Nearly 5.7 million U.S. adults are affected by bipolar disorder (sometimes referred to as manic-depressive disorder).
While generally a chronic condition that requires life-long treatment, those who receive an accurate diagnosis can lead full and productive lives. However, when left undiagnosed and untreated, bipolar disorder leads to greater risk of suicide, incarceration, substance abuse, job loss, and higher rates of mortality. The first step to diagnosis is proper identification of bipolar disorder symptoms, so it is important to know the signs.
Bipolar Disorder Symptoms: Three Signs to Be Aware Of
Healthcare professionals estimate that up to 20% of those who suffer from depression actually have bipolar disorder. This is due, in part, to the relative infrequency of manic episodes in those who suffer from the milder bipolar II disorder. Even with the more severe bipolar I disorder, however, intervals of depression outnumber their manic counterparts by a ratio of three to one. Hence, any diagnosis of depression should be accompanied by an evaluation of a lifetime history of manic episodes.
2. Severe Mood Swings
Despite the greater incidence of depression, swings between feelings of extreme happiness or joy and feelings of sadness or hopelessness remain a key sign of bipolar disorder. Often, periods of these respective feelings last for several weeks or even months and are separated by moments of “normal” mood. This makes them hard to identify which is why maintaining a record of oscillation between such feelings is important.
Hypomanic episodes differ from manic episodes in that the former presents no significant functional impairment. The onset of non-contextual euphoria nonetheless remains the dominant presenting symptom, and is often accompanied by irritability. Hypomania is a characteristic feature of bipolar II disorder, but often presents in bipolar I disorder as well.
While not a symptom per se, substance abuse frequently goes hand-in-hand with bipolar disorder symptoms.
Most often, signs of bipolar disorder arrive in a person’s late teens, and grow more severe with age.
Lack of early diagnosis often leads to lack of treatment, which can produce tragic consequences.
Bipolar Disorder Treatments
Treatment for bipolar disorder should always be guided by an experienced psychiatrist. Common approaches involve:
- Medication including mood stabilizers, antipsychotics, antidepressants, or anti-anxiety drugs.
- Psychotherapy including interpersonal and social rhythm therapy (IPSRT), cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), psychoeducation, and family-focused therapy.
Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is sometimes prescribed to those with bipolar disorder who do not respond to the above.
Ketamine for bipolar is an emerging treatment avenue that likewise offers promising results to those unable to find relief elsewhere. Ketamine infusion therapy involves four to six ketamine infusions delivered over a two-week period, followed by maintenance doses as needed.
Those who have tried ketamine for bipolar disorder after failing to find relief from medication or psychotherapy frequently report rapid and lasting improvement. Such anecdotal experience is corroborated by a growing body of research that attests to the efficacy of this treatment approach.
To learn more about how ketamine infusion therapy may help you find relief from bipolar disorder do not hesitate to contact us at Vitalitas Denver— a mental health treatment clinic with a qualified and experienced suite of dedicated medical staff, including anesthesiologists and a licensed psychiatrist.