Call us today: 732-655-4568 | 119 Maple Ave. Red Bank, NJ 07701 | Hours: Mon-Fri 9am – 6pm

What is Bipolar Disorder?

Bipolar disorder, once called manic depression, is a mental health disorder where a person goes through big mood changes, from really high and excited feelings (mania) to very sad and low feelings (depression). These big mood swings can change how a person thinks, behaves, and handles their daily life.

While we’re not sure exactly what causes it, things like family genes, life events, and brain structure might play a role. It is experienced by about 4.4% of adults in the United States, according to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). The average age of onset is 25 years, but, more rarely, it can start as early as early childhood or as late as in your 40s or 50s.

When someone is in a manic mood, they may feel extremely happy, have increased energy, or get easily annoyed, and they might make big plans or make decisions without thinking. On the other hand, during a low or depressive mood, they might feel extremely sad, lose interest in things they usually enjoy, or feel hopeless.

Bipolar disorder isn’t just normal mood changes; it’s much bigger than that. It can affect friendships, work, and can even make a person think about harming themselves. Finding out if someone has bipolar disorder early and getting the right help can make a big difference in their life.

These mood shifts may last from a few hours to weeks or months, varying from person to person. The onset of these mood episodes – whether it’s hypomania, mania, or depression – can be sparked by numerous factors such as stress, lack of sleep, and use of substances including alcohol.


The different types of Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar I disorder

People with bipolar I disorder have experienced one or more episodes of mania. Most people with bipolar I will have episodes of both mania and depression, but an episode of depression isn’t necessary for a diagnosis.

The depressive episodes usually last at least two weeks. To be diagnosed with bipolar I, your manic episodes must last at least seven days or be so severe that you need hospitalization. People with bipolar I can also experience mixed states (episodes of both manic and depressive symptoms).

Bipolar II disorder

People with bipolar II experience depressive episodes and hypomanic episodes. But they never experience a full manic episode that is characteristic of bipolar I disorder. While hypomania is less impairing than mania, bipolar II disorder is often more debilitating than bipolar I disorder due to chronic depression being more common in bipolar II.

Cyclothymic disorder

Individuals with this type navigate an ever-shifting mood landscape, experiencing both hypomania and milder depression for at least two years. While they may occasionally experience periods of balanced mood, these stable phases typically don’t extend beyond eight weeks.

For children, disruptive mood dysregulation disorder is the equivalent of bipolar diagnosis.

What are the symptoms of Bipolar Disorder?

Bipolar disorder is characterized by dramatic shifts in mood, energy, and activity levels that significantly impact a person’s ability to carry out day-to-day tasks.

The condition entails two primary types of episodes: mania and depression. During a manic episode, individuals may experience a sustained period of abnormally and persistently elevated, expansive, or irritable mood. This mood disturbance is accompanied by a marked increase in energy levels and overactivity. They may exhibit an exaggerated sense of well-being or grandiosity, with some displaying overconfidence to the point of delusion.

Sleep needs dramatically decrease, with individuals often feeling rested after only a few hours of sleep. Speech may become rapid or pressured, and individuals can be verbose. Thoughts may race, and attention spans may be fleeting, leading to severe distractibility. During this heightened state, individuals often engage in behavior that is impulsive or reckless, such as extravagant spending, impetuous business decisions, or imprudent sexual indiscretions.

On the flip side, during depressive episodes, individuals with bipolar disorder can fall into deep, prolonged periods of sadness or despair. Activities that once brought pleasure can lose their appeal, leading to a pervasive loss of interest or enjoyment.

There can be significant changes in appetite, with some experiencing weight loss or gain. Sleep patterns are often disrupted, with some struggling with insomnia and others with excessive sleeping.


How do we treat Bipolar Disorder?


Bipolar disorder is a mental health condition that causes frequent mood swings, including mania and depression. Diagnosing bipolar disorder can a have a couple of different steps. The first step in diagnosing bipolar disorder involves a detailed medical evaluation.

Medication Management

One commonly used treatment type is mood stabilizers, like, lithium. They can be very effective in managing the condition. Sometimes, other types of medications complement the treatment plan. This might include anticonvulsants, atypical antipsychotics, or antidepressants.


Treatment for bipolar disorder can involve a combination of medication management, therapy, and lifestyle changes. Finding the right treatment for bipolar disorder may require patience and persistence. Different medications affect individuals in unique ways, so what works best may vary from person to person.