What is Bipolar Disorder?
by Dr. Moses L. James III, LPC, NCC, ACS, DCC

Bipolar disorders include extreme mood swings from depression to mania that can influence risky behavior. The aforesaid may include suicidal tendencies which can be treated with psychotherapy and psychotropic medication.

What Are the Different Types of Bipolar Disorder?

Online psychiatric resources such WebMD.com describes Bipolar Disorder in terms of Bipolar I, Bipolar II, and Mixed Episode:


Bipolar I


Generally speaking, individuals diagnosed with Bipolar I Disorder have manic episodes or mixed episodes which may include one or more depressive episodes.


Bipolar II


With that stated, individuals diagnosed with Bipolar II Disorder have major depressive episodes with less severe mania. In addition, they experience hypomania, a condition that is less intense than mania or lasting less than a week.


Patients may seem like the "life of the party" -- full of charm and humor. They may feel and function fine, even if family and friends can see the mood swing. However, hypomania can lead to mania or depression.


Mixed Episode


Individuals diagnosed with mixed episode experience depression and mania at the same time. This potentially leads to unpredictable behavior such as sadness while doing a favorite activity or feeling very energetic.


It's more common in people who develop bipolar disorder at a young age, particularly during adolescence. But some estimates suggest up to 70% of bipolar patients experience mixed episodes.

What Behaviors Define Bipolar Disorder?

Below is a brief description of depressive and manic symptoms:



Depressive Phase Symptoms


  • Intense episodes of depression
  • Sadness
  • Anxiety
  • Loss of energy
  • Hopelessness
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Loss of interest in activities that was once pleasurable
  • Weight gain or weight loss
  • Self reports of increased or poor sleep
  • Suicidal ideations



Manic Phase Symptoms


  • Feelings of euphoria
  • Agitation
  • Reduced need for sleep
  • Talkative
  • Easily distracted
  • Racing thoughts
  • Reckless behaviors including spending sprees, sexual indiscretions, fast driving, and substance abuse

Potential Goals for Addressing Mania / Depression

Jongsma and Peterson (2014) noted the following potential goals in addressing mania / depression:




  • Reduce agitation and impulsivity while achieving sensitivity to the consequences of behavior and having more realistic expectations.


  • Achieving controlled behavior, moderated mood, and more deliberative speech and thought process through psychotherapy.




  • Develop healthy cognitive patterns and beliefs about self and the world that lead to alleviation and help prevent the relapse of depression symptoms.


  • Develop healthy interpersonal relationships that lead to alleviation and help prevent the relapse of depression symptoms.

A Rational Cognitive Behavioral Script for Depression

“I understand that feeling depressed does not help me to achieve my goals. In addition, there may be times that I may confuse being upset about an idea rather than the facts.


During those times, I will look at the facts and refuse to make myself depressed along with developing an opinion about something very quickly without gathering facts.”


Rational replacement thoughts such as the previously mentioned may be beneficial in addressing depression through practice which includes repeated daily reading and better yet memorizing.


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Mental Health Center from WebMD

Mental health disorders affect an estimated 22% of American adults each year. Here you'll find in-depth mental health information including care, and various mental health conditions.