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Living With Bipolar Disorder

Imagine living life on a rollercoaster – an ever-evolving ride of highs and lows. For anyone struggling with bipolar disorder, your emotions become just such a rollercoaster, which can fill your life with challenges due to intense and unpredictable mood swings. Finding a treatment plan that works for you and your challenges is the most important thing you can do for yourself. Understanding what bipolar disorder is and what its signs are can help you seek out the best treatment for yourself or your loved one. 

What Is Bipolar Disorder?

The National Alliance of Mental Illness (NAMI) states that people who struggle with bipolar experience high and low moods known as mania and depression. These dramatic mood shifts are not your normal emotional highs and lows; they are known to leave people’s lives in disarray, wreaking havoc and turmoil for everyone around them. Bipolar can radically affect your ability to sleep, consume your energy levels, interfere with your ability to think or ration, and make it harder to control your own behavior. 

Bipolar disorder is a mental illness that should not be left untreated. Studies have shown that symptoms will only increase and intensify with time. With the proper care that includes a combination of psychotherapy, medications, and self-monitoring strategies, you can still live and thrive.

What Are the Symptoms?

Symptoms can vary between each person with bipolar, as can the severity of each sign. Although a person with bipolar can experience distinct manic or depressive states, they may also go through extended spurts of time without experiencing any symptoms, sometimes making it seem as though they have been cured. 

People who struggle with severe bipolar episodes of mania or depression can experience psychotic symptoms, such as hallucinations or delusions. NAMI states that it is important to note that individuals who show psychotic symptoms can be wrongly diagnosed with schizophrenia. 

Mania and Hypomania

In order for a person to be diagnosed with bipolar disorder, they must experience at least one episode of mania or hypomania. Hypomania is a much milder form of mania, where the person does not experience acute psychotic episodes and can function within their everyday life.

Initially, many people with bipolar find the elevated mood of mania to be appealing, as it usually comes after they have experienced the negative emotions associated with depression. This elevated “high” or mood is uncontrollable, leading to negative feelings such as irritability, unpredictable behavior, and impaired judgment. Other symptoms of mania can include:

  • Excessive feelings of happiness, hopefulness, and excitement
  • Hostile and aggressive behavior
  • Restlessness
  • An increase in energy
  • Drug and alcohol abuse

When a person experiences periods of mania, they behave impulsively, engaging in reckless decisions and taking unusual risks. Even more so, people in manic states do not even realize the negative consequences of their actions. Once a person is able to receive treatment, they can identify their own behavior signals to help them manage the symptoms of their illness. 

Depression and Risk

After every high there comes a low, and the lows of bipolar depression are debilitating. Individuals experiencing depressive episodes find it challenging to complete normal daily tasks like getting dressed and eating meals. They may struggle with sleep disorders, and feel overwhelmed with the thought of doing anything. Even small tasks such as getting out of bed can become overpowering to a person in a depressive episode. During these depressive periods, you may also experience:

  • Extreme sadness
  • Loss of energy
  • Feelings of hopelessness or worthlessness
  • Inability to enjoy things as you once did
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Uncontrollable crying
  • An obsession with loss and guilt
  • Irritability

People with bipolar disorder are at higher risk of suicide. This is another reason why it is so important for someone to understand your illness and to be able to identify those precursors. If someone you know is struggling with bipolar disorder, it is equally important for you to be able to identify those behaviors, to prevent your loved one from harming themselves during a depressive episode. These depressive symptoms must typically be present almost every day for a period of at least two weeks for a person to be diagnosed. 

Getting Help

Safe, impactful treatment is available even for those with the most severe forms of bipolar disorder. An effective treatment plan usually consists of a combination of medication and psychotherapy, such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and mood stabilizers. Bipolar disorder responds well when people are proactive and take the necessary steps to monitor their symptoms and educate themselves.

Although bipolar disorder is manageable, it is a lifelong illness. Between episodes, individuals do experience stable moods, but some people do struggle with lingering symptoms. The best route for individuals with bipolar disorder is to seek continuous treatment that will help them understand and manage their symptoms.


Bipolar disorder is a debilitating disorder that can cause a person to have severe emotional highs and lows. During these highs, or mania, an individual can experience feelings of recklessness, hostile and aggressive behavior, and excessive happiness. The highs can sometimes be followed by extreme lows or depressive episodes, causing a person to feel overwhelmed with sadness, self-doubt, and even thoughts of suicide. The causes vary between genetics, stress, and even brain structure, making it vital to obtain an accurate diagnosis and seek personalized treatment. Since the symptoms and causes of bipolar disorder vary, an individualized treatment plan is important. While various forms of psychotherapy and medications are available to assist, self-monitoring strategies are equally important to success. You do not need to be struggling alone with this illness any longer. Reach out to us today. We can set you up with the resources and services that you need to win this battle. Call RECO Intensive today at (561) 464-6533.

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