Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder is the sixth leading cause of disability in the world. It is a significant and impactful mental health disorder found in all ages, races, ethnic groups and social classes. It affects about 2.6% (or 5.7 million) members of the U.S population age 18 and older every year.

Yet many people still do not understand how debilitating this disorder can be. Most of us have heard of bipolar disorder, and perhaps even use the term to describe emotional “ups and downs”. However, bipolar disorder is much more than “mood swings.” Here at Ridgeview Institute, our mental health professionals treat hundreds of clients living with bipolar disorder each year. Our broad and collaborative approach to Bipolar treatment has helped many people in our community to not just live with Bipolar disorder, but to thrive.

What is Bipolar Disorder?

Bipolar disorder is marked by alternating periods of depression and mania. A third period that some experience is known as hypomania; it is considered a less severe type of manic episode. These episodes are characterized by dramatic changes in an individual’s behaviors, affect, and energy levels. Four types of bipolar disorder exist: bipolar I disorder, bipolar II disorder, cyclothymic disorder, and other specified and unspecified bipolar and related disorders.

Bipolar Causes

It is still unclear what causes bipolar disorder and why some people have it while others do not. It is believed that genes, brain function and altered brain structure, brain chemistry, as well as family history may play a role in the disorder.

Bipolar Signs and Symptoms

Bipolar can be characterized by the varying degrees of severity between the manic and depressive episodes. A person can go extended periods without any symptoms while another can experience both extremes of the disorder simultaneously or in sequence. These symptoms can even include psychotic features such as hallucinations.

During a manic episode (which, if left untreated, can last for 3 to 6 months), a person can show signs of:

  • Increased creativity, ideas, energy and activity levels.
  • Speech which can become fast and tangential.
  • Racing thoughts
  • Decreased ability to fall asleep and stay asleep.
  • Increased agitation/aggravation
  • Risky behaviors (e.g., spending outside of their means or promiscuous sexual behavior).
  • Feelings of euphoria or elation.

During a depressive episode (which, if left untreated, can last for 6 to 12 months), a person can show signs of:

  • A persistent feeling of hopelessness and helplessness.
  • Sadness
  • An inability to feel joy.
  • Feelings and thoughts of despair.
  • Decreased energy
  • Tired
  • Impaired sleep
  • Decreased interest in the things they used to like doing.
  • Concentration and memory difficulties.
  • Changes in appetite.
  • Thoughts of suicide or dying.
  • Suicide attempts

Bipolar Treatment

Due to having similar symptoms as other mental health disorders, there is a risk for misdiagnosis. With that in mind, our psychiatrists incorporate both physical and psychological exams. They also review personal/family history as a virtual “bipolar disorder test” to help rule out other conditions. Treatment is tailored to the individual. The diagnosis is made with the main goal of helping the person manage their episodes more effectively so they can remain productive and fully functioning in their lives and relationships. Treatment options will include a combination of medications, psychotherapy, sleep medications, and/or holistic therapies.



Ridgeview Institute Monroe is here to help you navigate your journey to wellness. We offer 24/7 free assessments in our facility for your convenience. If you or a loved one is struggling, please contact us for more information.