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September 23, 2014
by Marti Wormuth, MA

A Brief Look at Bipolar Disorder

September 23, 2014 04:55 by Marti Wormuth, MA  [About the Author]

There are a lot of disorders out there that people deal with every single day. Because of that, it's important to understand how they are diagnosed, how they work, and what they are. More and more information comes out about these disorders all the time, and because of this, it's important to stay abreast of the issues and get informed about them. October 10th is National Bipolar Awareness Day, and because of that, we're going to take a closer look at what bipolar disorder is, how it affects someone, and how people cope with the disorder during their everyday lives. 

What is Bipolar Disorder? 

Bipolar disorder, sometimes referred to as "manic depressive disorder," is a disorder that affects millions of people around the world every single year. This disorder is characterized, in particular, by periods of extreme highs (mania, or "manic" in the name) and then periods of extreme lows (the "depressive" end). Sometimes, it can end up causing the person a lot of distress, anxiety, paranoia, and other issues. Some people struggle with a lapse in judgment and are unable to have a clear mind when they are trying to make a decision. The ways that bipolar disorder manifests in people will differ depending on the person in question, but here are some of the most common symptoms associated with the disorder. 

  • Severe mood swings that go from extreme lows to extreme highs. 
  • Violent or dangerous behavior while in manic phases. 
  • Irritability
  • Impulsive Behavior
  • Lowered energy level
  • Lowered sex drive
  • Unrealistic beliefs about who you are or what you are able to do
  • Easily distracted from everyday tasks
  • Hallucinations
  • Delusions
  • Periods of time where you cannot remember what you did for an extended period of time.
  • Anxious thoughts and feelings; paranoia. 

There are others, of course, but the symptoms that you see depend on the type of bipolar disorder that you have, the severity of your disorder, and how your body reacts to the particular things in question. Many times, it is quite frightening to discover that one has bipolar disorder, because the way that you find out isn't particularly pleasant. Many people find out when they have a manic episode, or when something else occurs in their life to "set it off" in a negative manner. Obviously, you should only be diagnosed and/or treated by a mental health professional and not try to treat bipolar disorder by yourself; professional help will give you all the resources that you need to be successful. 

What are the Ways of Dealing with Bipolar Disorder? 

Bipolar disorder can be incredibly disrupting to one's life, and because of this, a person may have a hard time adjusting to things. The good news is, there are a lot of different types of treatments out there nowadays, now that we know more about the disorder and how it affects the body and mind. Let's take a closer look at the ways that you can deal with bipolar disorder and what treatments are available for the disorder so that you can live as normal and happy a life as possible, even if you struggle with the disorder in question. That being said, most people with bipolar disorder do need to be treated for the rest of their lives, but can definitely see some progress and recovery in the areas of their lives that need to be treated. 

Medication. A vast majority of people with bipolar disorder need to be on some type of medication. There are a number of different medications that can be used in the treatment of bipolar disorder, and what ones you use are dependent on how well they seem to work for you and what symptoms of yours need to be alleviated. The types of medications used are usually antidepressants, anti-psychotics, anti-anxiety medication, Lithium, and anti-convulsants. As previously stated, the medication a person gets is based on their particular needs and what seems to help alleviate symptoms. 

Behavioral Therapy. Behavioral therapy, psychotherapy, and other types of therapy are often used in bipolar treatment, because they will help the person that is struggling with bipolar disorder to be able to handle their emotions much more easily. It can also help the person to understand what they're going through and help them retrain their mind to react to certain situations in an appropriate manner. It can also help the person to talk about their issues and to head off any potential problems that may occur if they were not being monitored and treated on a regular basis. In short, therapy is a really important part of the process of dealing with bipolar disorder, and therefore should be utilized. There are plenty of therapists who know how to work with those that have bipolar disorder, and we have many of them listed on Theravive that you can look up and see if they are a good fit for you and your needs. 

Inpatient care. In some very severe cases of bipolar disorder, and in some cases after the initial diagnosis of the disorder, inpatient care at a hospital may be required. There are plenty of hospitals that are able to perform the necessary treatments for those with bipolar disorder, and a person's inpatient treatment will likely include medication, psychotherapy, and sometimes, alternative forms of therapy (such as electroshock therapy) if they are deemed to be necessary. Inpatient treatment is usually used if a person is possibly a danger to others or they could be a danger to themselves, so the hospital is meant to be somewhere safe that they can stay while they are becoming more stable and getting the initial treatment that they need. Inpatient care is always followed up by medication and therapy, so that the person struggling with bipolar disorder continues on the path toward complete wellness and strong mental health. 

Ensuring that your relationships are healthy and stable. One thing that people with bipolar disorder need is stability. Make sure that, if you or someone you love is struggling with bipolar disorder, that you provide relational stability for them the best that you can. Relationships are, frequently, hard to keep when you're struggling with a mental health problem, and because of that, it's incredibly important that the person with the disorder has loving, stable relationships. If they are unstable or abusive, it can cause the person a lot more distress (and it's not really healthy for anyone to be in those sorts of relationships), and it can cause the symptoms to be a lot worse than they are. By offering stability, the person with the disorder feels less alone and they will likely feel as if they are able to get through life a little more easily because of your support. 

Take good care of your body. The body is all connected, which I've talked about in other articles. If you are not taking care of your body, then the other areas of health (mental, emotional, spiritual) are going to be affected as well. So make sure that you are eating foods that help your body instead of hurt it. Make sure that you're getting enough sleep every night, because if you don't, the symptoms could end up being exacerbated. Make sure that you're exercising when you can and keep the weight off. By doing these things, you can make sure that your body is in good shape and it can help, at least somewhat. Obviously, taking care of your body isn't going to make the symptoms go away, but it is going to help you feel better and possibly reduce the severity of some of the symptoms that you struggle with. It can also help reduce the anxiety related to bipolar disorder as well. 

Because of the severity of the highs and lows in bipolar disorder, it is important that you get the help that you need. Use the resources here in order to determine exactly where to get help and the type of help that you can find near you. You can feel healthy and whole again with some help from a mental health professional. You just have to take that first step, be brave, and get through it. 


Anxiety and Depression Association of America. (n.d.). Bipolar Disorder. Retrieved June 25, 2014, from

Mayo Clinic Staff. (2012, January 12). Bipolar disorder. Retrieved June 25, 2014, from

The National Alliance on Mental Illness. (2011). What is Bipolar Disorder? Retrieved June 25, 2014, from

National Institute of Mental Health. (2014). Bipolar Disorder. Retrieved June 25, 2014, from

Smith, M., & Segal, J. (2014, June). Bipolar Disorder Signs & Symptoms. Retrieved June 25, 2014, from

About the Author

Marti Wormuth, MA Marti Wormuth, MA

Marti has a Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology and a Master’s in Communication Studies. Her favorite activities include reading, playing games, and hanging out with the students at her church. Marti volunteers with the youth ministry at her church as a teacher and mentor. Because of this, she recently started another degree, her graduate certificate in student ministries. She considers her current graduate work to be a stepping stone to becoming a youth pastor or a published author.

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