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What is a Bipolar disorder? This was previously known as manic-depressive disorder, and is a psychiatric diagnosis for a disorder that affects the mood of individuals. People affected by a bipolar disorder undergo significant mood swings in short periods of time for no discernible outside reason.

The frenzied mood state is often referred to as “manic” while the opposite end show symptoms of depression. The term bipolar is to distinguish that both ends of the moods swings can alternate with the manic part showing signs of elevated energy levels as well as ideas of grandiosity.

When entering the stages of mania, the person may seem erratic and impulsive with higher levels of energy. Quite often, they make very poor decisions when in this state and may not be able to sleep. At higher levels, of mania, the person may seem out of control and show psychotic behavior which can include violence as well.

Depression often follows this manic state, though in some it may be difficult to detect since the symptoms can vary from person to person. In the depressed phase, symptoms such as depressive episode consists of many of the following symptoms, occurring nearly every day for at least two weeks:

Depressed mood most of the day; feeling sad or empty, tearful

Significant loss of interest or pleasure in activities that used to be enjoyable

Significant weight loss (when not dieting) or weight gain; decrease or increase in appetite

Difficulty sleeping or sleeping too much

Agitation; or slowing down of thoughts and reduction of physical movements

Fatigue or loss of energy

Feelings of worthlessness or inappropriate guilt

Poor concentration or having difficulty making decisions

Thinking about death or suicide

What separates these periods are the “normal” times in which their moods seem stable. What may make detecting symptoms of a bipolar disorder difficult to detect is that the cycling periods may be long enough that a person is not present to see both the mania and depression in that short period of time. However, some people with bipolar disorder undergo what is known as “rapid cycling” and some may experience manic symptoms so severe that they can hallucinate and suffer from delusions.

Less the 5% of the overall population will have symptoms of a bipolar disorder and for many of them it will only be temporary in nature. Bipolar disorder is common for both men and women and across many cultures as well. While genetics seems to be the strongest factor, there are also environmental factors that can play a role as well.

A bipolar disorder is treated with the use medications that stabilize the mood swings along with psychotherapy to help teach those who are afflicted how to deal with the sudden onset of mania or depression. Additionally, people with bipolar disorder need help learning to cope with the depressive and manic phases of their psychiatric disorder.  Fortunately, there is now an Intensive Outpatient Program in Memphis, TN that has been proven to be effective in the treatment of these disorders.   Our programs provide services to those who need more treatment than one hour a week, but less than 24 hour care, by providing three hours of treatment per day, three to five days per week, in an intensive outpatient setting.  If you or a loved one is showing signs of depression, they should be assessed by a trained mental health professional who can help design a treatment plan that can result in recovery.  Treatment for depression and bipolar disorder can be highly successful.  Call us at 901-682-6136 to schedule an appointment.