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BIPOLAR DISORDERS

What is Bipolar Disorder?

Bipolar Disorder, formerly known as Manic Depression, is a mental health condition that causes extreme shifts in your mood, energy, and activity level.  Manic episodes or "highs" are associated with extremely elated or energized behavior. Depressive episodes or "lows" are associated with feeling very sad or hopeless. 50% of women with Bipolar Disorder are first diagnosed in the postpartum period.

Manic or depressive episodes can last for weeks or years depending on the severity of the disorder. There are 4 different types of bipolar-related disorders: Bipolar I Disorder, Bipolar II Disorder, Cyclothymic Disorder (also know as Cyclothymia), and Other Specified and Unspecified Bipolar Related Disorders (the catch all for variants outside the three main categories). The different types of Bipolar Disorder vary depending on the severity and duration of the episode. Perinatal mood disorders typically manifest as Bipolar I or Bipolar II.

What is the Difference Between Bipolar I and Bipolar II?

Bipolar I is identified by manic episodes that last for at least 4 - 7 days or during which the manic symptoms are so severe that a person needs hospital care. These episodes disrupt a person's ability to function and maintain or establish relationships. For Bipolar I, depressive episodes may also occur and will typically last for 2 weeks. In some instances, a person may undergo a "mixed episode", where they experience symptoms of a manic and depressive episode simultaneously. 

Bipolar II is characterized by less severe highs of a shorter duration known as hypomanic episodes. These hypomanic episodes are not always readily apparent since the shifts in mood are not as severe.  However, Bipolar II is associated with longer and more severe depressive episodes. 

 

What are the Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder?

 

Below are common indicators associated with the highs and lows of Bipolar Disorder:

The "Highs" of Bipolar Disorder                       

  • Increased physical and mental activity and energy

  • Excessive irritability

  • Aggressive behavior

  • Decreased need for sleep speech, thoughts, ideas

  • Impulsiveness and poor judgement

  • Distractibility

  • Reckless behavior

  • Grandiose thoughts

  • Inflated sense of self-importance

  • Delusions and hallucinations (in severe cases)

The "Lows" of Bipolar Disorder

  • Prolonged sadness or unexplained crying spells

  • Significant changes in appetite and sleep patterns

  • Irritability, anger, worry, agitation, and anxiety

  • Pessimism and indifference

  • Feelings of guilt or worthlessness

  • Inability to concentrate

  • Indecisiveness

  • Inability to take pleasure in former interests

  • Social withdrawal

  • Unexplained aches and pains

  • Recurring thoughts of death or suicide

How Is Bipolar Disorder Identified and Treated? 

Women who have Bipolar Disorder and are pregnant or postpartum can be seen as simply having severe depression, anxiety, or euphoria. That is why it is important to consult with a mental health professional. Studies have shown that therapy is an effective way to treat Bipolar Disorder. There is also ongoing research exploring the risks and benefits of mood stabilizers during pregnancy and while breastfeeding. If you believe that you or a loved one is experiencing the symptoms described above or is having difficulty managing their emotions, please contact CFMMH for a free consultation or schedule an appointment to be seen.