What is Bipolar?
Formerly referred to as Manic Depressive Disorder, Bipolar is an illness characterized by extreme and often times unpredictable mood swings. Though there are different types of this disorder, every person diagnosed some type of bipolar have experienced both a hyper, manic mood state and a low depressive states.
Typically during periods of mania people are often abnormally happy, energetic or can be extremely irritable. Behaviors during manic periods might include having extreme anger, unrealistic and unsafe self-confidence, being exceedingly talkative, taking excessive risks, wild spending and/or investing irresponsibly, engaging in risky and numerous sexual indiscretions, and feeling no need to sleep for days on end. Often the person experiencing mania relishes the manic state, as it feels good to them, and they have a hard time recognizing their behavior and mood as uncharacteristic and/or dangerous. Though the time periods of the manic state varies, it will not last indefinitely and often times is followed directly by a deep depression. During depressive periods, patients experience decreased/low/negative mood, feeling hopeless and at times suicidal, little enjoyment of life, poor concentration and noticeable changes in sleeping and eating patterns.
Working with an experienced treatment team is key in treating bipolar disorder, not only for the patient diagnosed but also for the family. Successful treatment most often includes a combination of medication to help stabilize the mood and counseling which provides clients with the right tools to manage life and relationships. Research shows that both Cognitive Behavioral Counseling (CBT) and Dialectical Behavioral Counseling (CBT) are effective modalities for helping those with bipolar disorder. Regardless of treatment modality used, a good counselor helps clients struggling with bipolar disorder accurately track their moods and behaviors so that it becomes more manageable and can be dealt with effectively. Counseling helps clients better understand their illness, deal with emotions and mood swings, as well as discover triggers that might be affecting the mood shifts. Additionally, counseling is key to helping both the patient and the family deal with the relationship issues common to those struggling with bipolar.