Bipolar Disorder – Things to Know

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Important Things to Know About Biolar Disorder

by Dr. Mark Schwartz D.Sc.

Bipolar disorder (formerly called manic-depressive illness or manic depression) is a mental disorder that causes unusual changes in a person’s mood, energy, activity levels, and ability to concentrate. These shifts can make it difficult to carry out day-to-day tasks, sustain relationships, maintain responsibilities, or experience a sustainable sense of well-being.

Here’s a few things to keep in mind, whether you are clinician helping those. with Bipolar or you or a family member are suffering from it:

    1. Many individuals are misdiagnosed for many years and given meds, such as SSRIs, without a mood stabilizer, which can make bipolar worse.
    2. Medication management includes mood stabilizers, atypical antipsychotics, and antidepressants.
    3. Many clients have comorbidities of ADHD, OCD, and PTSD, as well as substance abuse and other addictions, which may potentially require a different treatment.
    4. Behavioral management and mood management can decrease number, frequency, and intensity of episodes, which can slow disease progression.
    5. The most common cycle is a period of depression lasting two weeks, and mania — hypomanic episodes, lasting seven days or more.
    6. Rapid Cycling means four or more mood episodes in a year. Rapid Cycling is also less responsive to the medication Lithium.
    7. Mood episodes are triggered by any type of stress, sleep disruptions, substance abuse, seasonal changes, and medication inconsistencies.
    8. Behavioral management includes routine management, sleep routines, avoidance of substances, mood charts, meditation skills, early monitoring, relationship support, and creative pursuits.
    9. In 70% of episodes, irritability is most common.
    10. Bipolar Spectrum includes subtypes that are variants of the disorder, such as the number of days of hypomania or early age.
    11. It’s a good idea for the client to have friends to reflect back with, so they can share what they see and notice.
    12. It’s a good idea to have a psychiatrist available to jump on Zoom with the client for crisis situations.
    13. It’s a known fact that people sit in depression too long when treatment is available. Don’t suffer alone.
    14. The way the client structures their working life is often critical to maintaining symptoms reduction.
    15. Bipolar in childhood includes extreme highs and lows in energy and mood, with a propensity for ADHD, conduct disorders, academic struggles, and difficulties at school. Happiness tends to be followed by irritability — this is a common pattern. Diagnosis is usually from ages 15–24, but is increasingly diagnosed in younger teens, even children.
    16. Some data suggests that early diagnosis and treatment can decrease the progression of the illness, and it can actually reverse changes in the gray matter of the brain’s frontal lobe.
    17. Clients need to stick to their treatment plan. Encourage them to not skip psychotherapy sessions. And even if they’re feeling well, still continue to take medication as prescribed.
    18. Learn about Bipolar Disorder. Empower your clients and have them empower themselves by learning about the condition.
    19. Pay attention to the warning signs. Find out what triggers episodes. Make a plan so that you know what to do if your clients symptoms get worse. Help your clients make a plan so they know what to do if their symptoms get worse. Have your clients contact their doctor or therapist if they notice any changes. Have them ask friends or family to watch out for their warning signs and be there as a support system.
    20. Get exercise. Physical activity reduces symptoms of depression. Consider walking, jogging, swimming, gardening, or any other physical activity.
    21. Avoid alcohol and illicit drugs. It may seem like they lessen symptoms, but in the long run, the symptoms generally get worse and may make your condition harder to treat.
    22. Get plenty of sleep. This is especially important. If you’re having trouble sleeping, talk to your doctor about what you can do.