What are some symptoms of bipolar disorder?
Symptoms must be clustered together during the same time. Here are some examples:
- Excessive energy
- Increased activities
- Racing thoughts
- Talking more than usual
- Increased self-esteem
- Making poor decisions, such as making high-risk investments, spending a lot of money, and dangerous behaviors.
Depressive episode symptoms
- Feeling hopeless, sad, depressed
- Noticeably increased or decreased amount of sleep
- Significant weight loss
- Suicide attempt or suicide ideation
Mixed episode symptoms
- Experiencing the symptoms of mania and depression at the same time, for example, crying uncontrollably yet feeling extremely happy.
- The symptoms can also switch back and forth. For example, feeling ecstatic and great at one point, then feeling miserable and overwhelmed the next.
How to diagnose bipolar disorder?
Clinicians diagnose patients with an appropriate bipolar disorder type based on the symptoms listed on DSM-5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition). Bipolar I and II may look the same due to similar symptoms but are separate diagnoses.
Bipolar disorder requires a clinical diagnosis, such as a rating scale (questionnaire) completed by the patient. No lab testing is needed. Here are some general guidelines on how to diagnose each of the common types of bipolar disorder.
- To be diagnosed with bipolar I, an individual must experience one full manic episode and one depressive episode for at least one week, almost every day.
- The symptoms are severe enough to cause obvious impairment in daily tasks and even require hospitalization.
- Same features as bipolar I, but no full mania (aka. hypomania).
- To be diagnosed with cyclothymia, an individual must experience a less severe form of hypomania and depressive symptoms for at least two years (1 year in children/adolescents).
- The symptoms were presented for at least half the time during those two years (in adults) and one year (in children/adolescents).
What treatment options are available for bipolar disorder?
Bipolar disorder is commonly treated with mood stabilizers and/or atypical antipsychotics. Along with the use of these medications, clinicians may also help you with lifestyle modification for a healthier diet, hygiene, getting enough sleep, and exercise. Psychotherapy, also known as talk therapy, is another effective treatment option for bipolar disorder. The duration of psychotherapy can be short-term (a few sessions that deal with immediate issues that are causing emotional distress) or long-term (deals with more complicated problems, sessions can last months).
What is a mood stabilizer?
Mood stabilizers are medications that aid in treating and managing intense mood shifts. They serve as a great tool for treating the symptoms of bipolar disorder. The providers at Specialty Clinic of Austin can prescribe lithium, lamotrigine, Tegretol, and more.
What is an antipsychotic?
Antipsychotics, also known as neuroleptics, are a set of medications that treat psychotic symptoms like delusions (false belief) and hallucinations (seeing, hearing things that are not there). Although psychosis is predominantly seen in schizophrenia, patients with bipolar disorder may still experience it during intense manic episodes. Specialty Clinic of Austin can offer several antipsychotics as well, such as Abilify, Rexulti, Latuda, Seroquel, and more.
Will there be any side effects?
It is possible that some may experience side effects from these medications, just like most other medications. The symptoms can depend on what type of medication they are on.
For example, some of the side effects of mood stabilizers may be nausea, vomiting, excessive thirst, frequent urination, loss of appetite, and sedation.
Side effects of antipsychotics may include tremors, involuntary movements, weight gain, dry mouth, and sore throat.
- American Psychiatric Association. (2013). DSM-5: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition (5th ed.). Generic. https://media.mycme.com/documents/168/dsm-5_bipolar_and_related_diso_41789.pdf
- Bipolar disorder – Diagnosis and treatment – Mayo Clinic. (2021, February 16). Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/bipolar-disorder/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20355961
- Bipolar disorder – Symptoms and causes. (2021, February 16). Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/bipolar-disorder/symptoms-causes/syc-20355955
- Bipolar Disorder: Who’s at Risk? (2009, January 8). WebMD. https://www.webmd.com/bipolar-disorder/guide/bipolar-disorder-whos-at-risk#:%7E:text=Because%20identical%20twins%20share%20all,from%2040%25%20to%2070%25.
- Cyclothymia (cyclothymic disorder) – Symptoms and causes. (2018, May 10). Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/cyclothymia/symptoms-causes/syc-20371275
- Silver, N. (2019, December 4). What Are the Long-Term Effects of Bipolar Disorder on the Body? Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/bipolar-disorder/long-term-effects-on-the-body
- What Is Mixed Bipolar Disorder? (2008, May 16). WebMD. https://www.webmd.com/bipolar-disorder/guide/mixed-bipolar-disorder
- What is Psychotherapy? (2019, January). American Psychiatric Association. https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/psychotherapy