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Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar, formerly known as “manic” depression, presents as polarized mood swings from depressive on one end, to overly-energetic, frenetic, and maybe even euphoric on the other. The depressive episodes feel like an extremely severe depression that can be almost paralyzing for sufferers. During manic episodes, destructive behaviors like impulse spending or reckless driving may occur.

It can be a scary disorder both for sufferers and their loved ones. Medication is often used in treatment, along with talk therapy. Clarity is possible with bipolar disorder as long as patients adhere to a treatment plan with a trusted psychiatrist.

Are you looking for a “bipolar psychiatrist near me” to help with your bipolar disorder?

Bregman Medical Group is here for you! We offer in-person appointments if you are in Coral Gables, Florida. We also offer telepsychiatry services so you can talk with a psychiatrist for bipolar disorder online.

Schedule an appointment with our doctors!



What is Bipolar Disorder?

Bipolar disorder is a brain disorder characterized by extreme mood swings to the point where it negatively affects the person’s ability to function properly. These mood fluctuations, which are called mood episodes, occur within a period of days to weeks and even years. While people without bipolar disorder experience changes in mood, it typically only lasts for a few hours rather than days.

The mood episodes are identified as manic/hypomanic (extreme happiness or irritable mood) or depressive (sadness). This means that people who live with bipolar disorder undergo periods of great excitement and overactivity, and euphoria (mania), and other periods of feeling sad and hopeless (depression). It’s important to note that people with bipolar disorder have periods of neutral moods as well.

Bipolar disorder is usually hereditary. Adults who have relatives with the disorder have a greater chance of developing it, and your risk also increases if the family member with the condition is a first-degree relative.

Aside from heredity, a study conducted showed that 60 to 80% of the cause of bipolar disorder are accounted for by genetic factors. However, if you have a family history of bipolar disorder, it does not mean that you will also develop it.

Bipolar disorder is a broad category that includes different conditions. These conditions are: bipolar I, bipolar II, cyclothymic disorder, and “other specified bipolar and related disorders”.

Bipolar I

A person is diagnosed with Bipolar I Disorder when he or she experiences a manic episode lasting at least seven days. In a manic episode, a person experiences an extreme increase in energy or is in a very irritable mood. Some people also experience hypomanic episodes or depressive episodes, and most people have intervals of neutral mood.

The manic-depressive episodes experienced by the person can also exist both with and without psychotic episodes.

Bipolar II

Bipolar II Disorder is a less severe type of bipolar disorder because it does not include a manic episode. You are diagnosed with bipolar II when you experience at least one hypomanic and one major depressive episode.

Cyclothymic Disorder

Cyclothymic disorder is also a milder type of bipolar disorder with symptoms lasting for at least two years. You are diagnosed with Cyclothymic disorder when hypomania and depressive symptoms are present, but they are milder in form. Thus, they do not meet the diagnostic requirements for a hypomanic episode and a depressive episode.


Other Specified Bipolar and Related Disorders

This category of the DSM-V is not exclusive to bipolar disorder but for other mental illnesses as well. This category is primarily used by doctors when a person has symptoms that are similar to bipolar disorders (bipolar I, bipolar II, cyclothymic disorder) but do not meet the full criteria of these types.

For example, the person may experience manic or depressive episodes, but the duration is too short for a bipolar I diagnosis. Or it can be that the person experiences hypomania, but no depressive episodes for a bipolar II diagnosis.

However, the symptoms still clinically impair the person’s functioning due to elevated moods. Cases like these are labeled “other specified”.

Bipolar disorders also frequently co-occur with other mental disorders like anxiety, ADHD, or substance use disorder.


If you have questions about bipolar disorders, our staff can help you.

Contact our experts today.

Diagnosis of Bipolar Disorders

Bipolar disorders are usually diagnosed during the late teen years or early adulthood. Bipolar symptoms can appear in children and adolescents. There are also cases when bipolar disorder first appears during a woman’s pregnancy or following childbirth.

People with bipolar disorders definitely can lead healthy and active lives with the help of proper diagnosis and treatment.

The first step in diagnosing bipolar disorders is to talk with your doctor or mental health professional. The doctor may perform a physical evaluation and conduct a differential diagnosis to ensure that there are no other conditions that may be causing the symptoms.

Once other conditions are ruled out, the doctor will then perform a comprehensive mental health evaluation to assess the patient’s symptoms based on the specific criteria listed in the American Psychiatric Association’s (APA) Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorder (DMS-5).

What are the Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder?

If you think you or someone in the family has bipolar disorder, it’s helpful to talk with a doctor or mental health professionals to identify the symptoms related to it.


Here is a list of symptoms of people diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder:

Mania

A manic episode is a period of at least one week of euphoria or irritability most of the day for most days of the week. A person possesses more energy than usual, and has at least three of the following behaviors:

  • Inflated self-esteem

  • Decreased need for sleep

  • Increased talkativeness

  • Racing thoughts

  • Increased distractibility

  • Increase in goal-directed behavior or psychomotor agitation

  • Increased risky behavior (such as unrestrained buying sprees)

These changes in the person’s behavior must be significant and clear to friends and family; and symptoms should be severe enough to cause dysfunction to the person’s work, family, and other social responsibilities.

Some people also experience hallucinations, disorganized thinking, and/or false beliefs (also known as psychotic features), when they are during manic episodes.  

Hypomania

A hypomanic episode is marked by less severe manic symptoms that last for only four consecutive days instead of one week. Unlike manic symptoms, hypomanic symptoms do not result in major disruptions in a person’s daily function.

Major Depressive Episode

A major depressive episode is a period that lasts at least two weeks. The symptoms of a major depressive episode are similar to the symptoms of regular depression.

The person experiences at least five of the following symptoms:

  • Extreme sadness or hopelessness

  • Loss of interest in activities or hobbies that the person used to enjoy

  • Feeling worthless or guilty

  • Intense fatigue

  • Slowed speech or movement, or restlessness

  • Difficulty with focusing or making decisions

  • Self-harming thoughts, including suicide

  • Increased or decreased sleep

  • Increased or decreased appetite

What Are The Risk Factors of Bipolar Disorders?

There are many risks factors to developing a bipolar disorder, these may include:

  • Having a parent, or any first-degree relative, diagnosed with bipolar

  • Experiencing abuse or trauma

    • There are studies such as this that show childhood trauma to be associated with developing bipolar disorders

  • Abuse of alcohol or drugs

    • In a 2018 study, there is evidence that shows the severity of bipolar to be connected with the degree of cannabis misuse.

How Do Psychiatrists Treat Bipolar Disorder?

Your psychiatrist will be your primary doctor in helping treat your bipolar disorder. The treatment plan may include a psychologist, social worker, and psychiatric nurse. Since bipolar disorder is a lifelong condition, its treatment is mainly directed at managing its symptoms.

Depending on the recommendations of your psychiatrist, treatment may include the following:

Medications

Psychiatrists often provide medical advice and prescribe medications to help patients balance their moods immediately. The type and doses of these medications are prescribed based on your particular symptoms. Medications may include mood stabilizers, antipsychotic medications, antidepressants, antidepressant-antipsychotic, or anti-anxiety medications. Taking these medications is periodically monitored by your psychiatrist.

It is important to note that finding the right medication is a process since it takes time for certain medications to be in full effect. Psychiatrists and patients work together for any medication that needs to be changed or adjusted as the symptoms change. Side effects of medications will also be discussed by your psychiatrist.

Psychotherapy

Aside from medications being the primary treatment for bipolar disorder, continuing psychotherapy is crucial to help patients cope with the symptoms. There are different types of therapy available, such as Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), Family-focused therapy, and Interpersonal and social rhythm therapy (IPSRT).

Telepsychiatry for Bipolar Disorder

Telepsychiatry is simply conducting psychiatric services to remote patients using online communication. You just need a computer or a smartphone to connect with your psychiatrist, often through video conferencing.  

If you think you or your family member have bipolar disorder, you are not alone. Our team of mental health care professionals at Bregman Medical Group helps adults, children, and families in the treatment of bipolar disorders. We offer telehealth therapy for new and existing patients, so you do not have to leave the comfort of your home.

Request an appointment at Bregman MD

Other Forms of Treatment Options

Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT)

Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT) is used in cases where medications and psychotherapy are not effective on a patient. In electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), a patient is placed under anesthesia while the doctor administers brief electrical currents to the patient’s brain, causing an abrupt but controlled seizure. ECT helps promote changes in the brain’s synapses and even stimulate new brain cells development.  

Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS)

Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) is a procedure to stimulate the brain using magnetic energy. It involves an electromagnetic coil placed on the patient’s scalp, and the electrical current can help regulate the person’s mood. TMS therapy is also considered non-invasive, but unlike ECT, the person is not sedated under anesthesia. Seizure side effects are also uncommon for TMS therapy.


Healthy Habits for Persons with Bipolar Disorder

Along with your regular doctor’s appointment, there are plenty of good habits that you can do to manage bipolar disorder. You can start developing these strategies now:

  • Eat a well-balanced diet

  • Have a good amount of sleep

  • Exercise regularly

  • Limit your daily stressors

  • Keep a journal to track your mood

  • Avoid drinking alcohol and taking drugs (can also limit your caffeine intake)


How Can You Help Someone with Bipolar Disorder?

The extreme changes in moods and behaviors of people diagnosed with bipolar disorder can be difficult for their family and friends as well - not just the individual.

In a manic episode, you may have to deal with the consequences of reckless and outrageous behavior. While in a major depressive episode, you may have to help the person battle through extreme sadness. This can take a toll on you or on the people around you.

Here are some ways that you can help someone with Bipolar Disorder:

  1. Educate yourself and the people involved - learning about the different types and symptoms can help you find effective ways of coping with the illness. In this way, you are more equipped to handle situations when mood episodes occur.

  2. Be patient and understanding - by being patient and understanding, you are letting the person know that you support and care for them. If they seek your help, you can lend them an ear to simply know that you are there for them. Remember that managing this mental illness is also often a lifelong process.

  3. Urge the person to get help - bipolar disorder can bring negative consequences if not treated right away. The sooner the person is treated, the greater his or her chances of getting better.

  4. Recognize your family member’s strengths and limitations - living with bipolar disorder is not easy, and even the most committed to their treatment and psychotherapy experience relapse. You can encourage the person by acknowledging their efforts, as well as forgiving them, especially during stressful times.

The good news is that with the proper treatment, support, and the right medication, many people diagnosed with bipolar disorder can stabilize their moods and lead a full life.

Work With Our Team Of Experts

At Bregman Medical Group, we are a team of mental health professionals specializing in the psychiatric treatment of mental disorders in children and adults. With our years of practice, we understand your struggles and we are here to help you.  

Contact us today



By BregmanMD | September 22, 2021 | Mental Health

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