Bipolar disorder is marked by unpredictable shifts in mood, energy, and activity. The condition affects the ability to concentrate and carry out daily tasks.
In the past, bipolar disorder was sometimes referred to as manic-depression. Someone who is bipolar experiences both euphoric highs and hopeless depression, often without any tangible reason for the highs or the lows.
The Three General Types of Bipolar Disorder
Bipolar I: manic symptoms often last about seven days while depressive episodes can go on about two weeks.
Bipolar II: a clear pattern of manic and depressive episodes that's not as severe as Bipolar I.
Cyclothymia: the periods when symptoms occur last longer but not nearly as severe. However, depressive episodes can last up to 2 years.
Psychiatrists diagnose and prescribe treatments for bipolar disorder. Before the consultation, however, gather your concerns, symptoms, and questions together so that you can give the psychiatrist a complete picture.
Diagnosis and treatment can both be received online via telemedicine. However, depending on the diagnosis, the online psychiatrist may recommend that you obtain treatment in person.
It's important to under that treating someone with bipolar disorder is a lifelong process with many options including:
Medications like mood stabilizers, antipsychotics, and antidepressants
Your psychiatrist will explain your diagnosis and all your treatment options in great detail.
Understanding and Support
Doctors know that the brain structures of people with bipolar disorder are different from the brain structures of people who don't have bipolar disorder. Genetics is the primary culprit, but not the only one. For example, with identical twins, one sibling may be bipolar while the other may not be. Research continues, and there's little doubt that treatment options will improve and scientists learn more.
In the meantime, bipolar support groups are a great way to stay up to date on the latest developments and treatment options to discuss with your psychiatrist if you're diagnosed. These organizations offer camaraderie and group support as well as advocating for the rights of the mentally ill.
The DBSA focuses on offering support for those with mood disorders. They also offer wellness-oriented help 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, online. You can also find local DBSA support groups and printed materials at most mental health facilities.
While not dedicated to Bipolar Disorder, NAMI is a grassroots organization that is committed to improving the lives of mentally-ill Americans.