Bipolar disorder is a term that is often misunderstood and misdiagnosed. It is regularly confused in popular media with other disorders that may have some similarities. Unfortunately, the confusion has prevented many individuals from obtaining the help they really need to feel better.
Some estimates of Bipolar disorders suggest it occurs in approximately 2.4 to 4.7% of the U.S population. Thus, this is a serious illness that affects literally millions of people. Bipolar disorder can strike virtually anyone, regardless of gender, race, education, or class, from pre-teens to seniors.
What is Bipolar disorder?
Bipolar disorder, previously known as manic depression, is a mental disorder that causes periods of depression and then alternates to periods of abnormally elevated moods. These cycles are not necessarily predictable and can happen even at the same time.
These elevated moods are known as mania or hypomania, depending on the severity or whether psychosis is present.
Manic episodes may include symptoms that include high energy, reduced need for sleep, and risk-taking behavior.
During a manic state, persons will report being able to do more as the intensity, pressure, stress, and danger increase. However, they will also state that at the same time, they are happier, more exuberant, energetic, and enthusiastic, feeling alive, focused, and high on life. Sadly, feeling invisible is a warning sign that many ignore.
Depressive episodes may include low energy, low motivation, and loss of interest in daily activities.
These mood episodes can last days or even months at a time. In all cases of bipolar disorder, the thought processes of the individual are altered and can be harmful to the individual if not treated.
Persons who have bipolar disorder, through no fault of their own, may cause damage and erode relationships in their lives, including their marriages, family, friends, and colleagues.
Currently, bipolar disorder is classified into bipolar I and Bipolar II spectrum disorder.
Bipolar I has also been known as manic-depressive disorder or manic depression. Individuals affected by bipolar I disorder have experienced at least one manic episode in his or her life.
A manic episode is defined as a period of abnormally elevated mood and high energy, accompanied by abnormal behavior that disrupts her or his life, such as impulsivity and/or risk-taking behaviors.
Most people with bipolar I disorder also suffer from periods of depression. Often, these individuals will cycle between periods of mania and periods of depression.
This cycling is where the term “manic depression” is derived from. However, it is important to note that the periods between episodes of mania and depression may appear normal for persons suffering from this disorder.
Bipolar II disorder is a bipolar spectrum disorder meaning a mental disorder that includes a range of linked conditions, sometimes also including singular symptoms and traits.
This disorder is characterized by at least one episode of hypomania and at least one episode of major depression. Hypomania is a sustained state of elevated mood but usually is less severe than mania, and psychosis is not present.
Compared to bipolar I disorder, Bipolar II presents more frequent depressive episodes and shorter intervals of well-being. In addition, bipolar II disorder is more chronic and consists of more frequent cycling than the course of bipolar I disorder.
A major concern for individuals dealing with bipolar II is the greater risk of suicidal thoughts and behaviors when compared to Bipolar I.
The origins of Bipolar disorder
The exact cause of Bipolar disorder isn’t currently known, but various research studies are indicating that it is a combination of genetics, environment, and altered brain structure. Here are some of the risk factors that research has shown can contribute to Bipolar disorder:
A recent study in the American Journal of Medical Genetics has demonstrated how numerous genetic variations are likely linked to this condition.
Mental Health Issues
Another study reviewed existing research and discovered that a number of psychiatric issues—including anxiety disorders, panic disorder, ADD/ADHD, conduct disorders, and aggression could all increase the risk of developing Bipolar disorder.
Traumatic Brain Injury
Head injuries increase the odds of developing Bipolar Disorder by as much as 28% according to one study that followed 113,906 persons who had experienced a traumatic brain injury. Similarly, a review of 57 studies that investigated traumatic brain injury concluded that there is a direct link between head injury and subsequent mental illness.
Traumatic Childhood Experience
Individuals who have endured adverse childhood experiences such as the death of a parent, sexual abuse, or neglect have a higher than average probability of developing an earlier onset of bipolar symptoms and a higher risk of suicide.
Bipolar disorder affects approximately 5.7 million adult Americans, or about 2.6% of the U.S. population age 18 and older every year.” (National Institute of Mental Health)..
How is bipolar disorder diagnosed?
There is no single assessment or method that is used to diagnose bipolar disorders. It is impossible to take an online test or other brief screen and properly identify some form of bipolar disorder. Instead, a proper diagnosis of bipolar disorder requires a coordinated effort that includes measures, clinical observations, and coordination with medical professionals.
The prevailing problem with misdiagnosis
It is not uncommon for bipolar depression to emerge at perhaps the worst possible time in a person’s life — in late adolescence or early adulthood. Unfortunately, many times bipolar depression presents similarly to major depressive disorder, resulting in a misdiagnosis that can delay effective treatment during those critical years.
Diagnosing an individual with bipolar disorder can be difficult, and often individuals can go years before they are correctly medically diagnosed. There are several reasons why this often happens. First, bipolar disorder can display similar symptoms like depression, ADD/ADHD, or even schizophrenia. Secondly, it is common for individuals with bipolar disorder to try to ignore their uncomfortable feelings and not seek medical attention.
Also, it is not uncommon for successful people to struggle with bipolar depression and “not appear” to be demonstrating any mental health problems. This occurs because they can channel the emotions and struggles in creative ways, masking the underlying condition.
Nonetheless, diagnosing bipolar disorder accurately is vital because the wrong treatment plan can make the symptoms even worse.
Treatment of Bipolar Disorders at
the offices of
Ginny Estupinian Ph.D.
The offices of Ginny Estupinian Ph.D. have the experience and tools necessary to screen for this disorder.
Dr. Estupinian will use her decade of clinical experience working in various medical facilities, including the county hospital and veterans administration, to compare and evaluate the assessments against what the client is presenting. Working closely with Dr. Estupinian, the client will always look at alternatives to medication and reasonable lifestyle changes that can mitigate the symptoms. In addition, Dr. Estupinian will help clients understand the biological roots of the disorder and teach them the early warning signs for episodes and the common triggers that cause these episodes.
Dr. Estupinian also works closely with both the client’s primary physician and psychiatrists to look for any other possible causes responsible for the symptoms the client is experiencing.
If the client doesn’t have a qualified psychiatrist, Dr. Estupinian will refer to a panel of psychiatrists with whom she has a long working relationship to assist in the evaluation and eventual treatment.
The treatment will be individually determined and integrated with each of the medical providers. The result is that the client can get the best therapy and medical care through this comprehensive coordination.
There is a lot that can be done to help individuals dealing with bipolar disorders. As a result, it is possible to feel better and have a fulfilling life.
Take the first step
Please check for available appointments or call the offices of Ginny Estupinian Ph.D. and discover what is possible.