Everyone suffers from highs and lows in life; however, those suffering from bipolar disorder experience these shifts in much greater magnitude, with symptoms so severe they interfere with daily life. Bipolar disorder is a disorder of the brain that causes extreme shifts in mood, activity levels, and energy. It is usually developed in adolescence or early adulthood, and it affects approximately 2.6 percent of America’s adult population, as published by the National Institute of Mental Health.

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) classifies four separate types of bipolar disorder: bipolar I, bipolar II, mixed bipolar, and cyclothymic disorder. Bipolar I is diagnosed when manic symptoms are so severe that they require immediate treatment, mixed or manic episodes last at least seven days, or depressive episodes last at least two weeks.

Symptoms of Bipolar I Disorder

Bipolar disorder, also called manic-depressive disorder, is characterized by severe mood swings, shifting from episodes of highs, including euphoria or mania, to lows and depression. Sufferers of bipolar I disorder have such severe shifts in mood that they struggle with relationships, with jobs, and in school.

Manic episodes can be dangerous. Symptoms of mania include:
  • Euphoria
  • Rapid speech and racing thoughts
  • Irritation, agitation, or aggressive behavior
  • Risky behavior, possibly including substance abuse, excessive spending, or risky sexual behavior
  • Sleeplessness
  • Poor judgment
  • Inflated ego
  • Increased physical activity
  • Distractibility
  • Psychosis or delusions
The flipside of mania for someone suffering from bipolar disorder is depression. Depressive symptoms include:
  • Hopelessness
  • Anxiety
  • Guilt
  • Intense sadness
  • Sleeplessness
  • Fatigue
  • Decreased appetite
  • Suicidal thoughts and/or behavior
  • Irritability
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Loss of interest in activities previously enjoyed
  • Unidentifiable chronic pain

Symptoms of bipolar disorder are intense and can cycle from high to low quickly; however, episodes of mania and/or depression may be sustained for longer periods of time. If you suffer from bipolar disorder and are experiencing suicidal thoughts or behavior, seek immediate help.

What Causes Bipolar I Disorder?

Bipolar I disorder is thought to occur due to a combination of risk factors that include both genetic and environmental factors. The prefrontal cortex of the brain, which serves to help us make decisions and solve problems, is thought to be smaller or underdeveloped in people with bipolar disorder. Environmental triggers are thought to be important too, as those experiencing trauma and abuse as well as high levels of stress may be more prone to developing the disorder. Substance abuse and bipolar disorder often go hand in hand as well, which can further exacerbate symptoms.

Getting Help

Bipolar I disorder seriously impairs a person’s ability to function, and getting the proper treatment is vital to helping manage the difficult symptoms. Medications are sometimes helpful, and psychotherapy is almost always included in treatment models. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a tool often used to help sufferers of bipolar disorder learn how to cope with and manage their symptoms.

Since bipolar disorder and substance abuse disorders so commonly co-occur, finding integrated treatment capable of treating both disorders in a dual diagnosis setting is key. The trained staff at Black Bear Lodge can offer a comprehensive treatment plan suitable for successfully treating people suffering from bipolar I disorder. Group, individual, and family therapy are all useful methods our professionals may employ.

Black Bear Lodge offers dual diagnosis treatment so that if you suffer, or a loved one suffers, from addiction, both disorders can be simultaneously and successfully managed. Call 706-914-2327 now to talk with one of our admissions coordinators about how to get the process started.