Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar Disorder is a mental disorder characterized by periods of elevated mood and periods of depression caused by chemical imbalances in the brain. The elevated mood is known as mania or hypomania depending on the severity or whether there is psychosis. During the manic or hypomanic phase, a person may feel or act abnormally happy, energetic, or irritable. They may engage in risky behaviors and make poor decisions with minimal regard for the consequences and even lose their grasp on reality. During depressive episodes, the sufferer of Bipolar Disorder has a negative outlook on life, becomes emotionally numb, apathetic, and hopeless, and more at risk of suicide. Between these mood episodes, a person with Bipolar Disorder may experience normal moods.

Signs of Bipolar Disorder:

Hypomania and Mania In Bipolar Type 1, a defining characteristic is Mania. In Bipolar Type 11, it is Hypomania. The significant difference is that the Mania is more extreme and the duration is longer. In Mania, the sufferer is regarded as being a danger to themselves and others, and this usually leads to hospitalization. The mood must also be unusual for the individual and noticeable by others. Symptoms include:

  • Inflated self-esteem or grandiosity
  • Decreased need for sleep
  • More talkative than usual or pressure to keep talking
  • Subjective experience that thoughts are racing or flighty
  • Distractibility
  • Increase in goal-directed activity or psychomotor agitation
  • Excessive involvement in pleasurable activities that have a high potential for painful consequences

Depression Depressed mood most of the day; feeling sad or empty, tearful.

  • Significant loss of interest or pleasure in activities that used to be enjoyable
  • Significant weight loss (when not dieting) or weight gain; decrease or increase in appetite
  • Difficulty sleeping or sleeping too much
  • Agitation
  • Slowing down of thoughts and reduction of physical movements
  • Fatigue or loss of energy
  • Feelings of worthlessness or inappropriate guilt
  • Poor concentration or having difficulty making decisions
  • Thoughts of death or suicide

How can DBT help?

  • Mindfulness improves wellbeing, attention, and positive emotions while decreasing negative feelings and distress
  • Mindfulness helps a person develop personal awareness of feelings, actions, and reactions
  • People with Bipolar Disorder often struggle with learning to tolerate distress and regulate emotions
  • Emotion regulation module teaches skills to step away from damaging behavioral patterns
  • Learn interpersonal effectiveness and assertiveness skills
  • DBT helps manage stressors that may trigger emotional and physical reactions that make people more vulnerable to depression or mania. Being able to tolerate life’s stressors without falling apart is often a daily challenge that the person living with Bipolar Disorder struggles with.