Bipolar 1 Disorder: What You Need to Know About It
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Bipolar 1 Disorder: What You Need to Know About It

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Everyone has shifts in their moods at times. However, some people have changes in their mood that affect them differently. People with bipolar 1 disorder experience heightened emotions and depressive states that are so intense, they interfere with their daily life. Bipolar 1 disorder is a mental health condition that affects an estimated 0.4% of Americans (more than 1.3 million people) in any 12 month period. While it can be a challenging condition, it can be successfully treated and managed.

What is bipolar 1 disorder?

Bipolar 1 disorder is one of the most common types of bipolar disorder. People with this type of bipolar disorder have manic episodes that last nearly all day, every day for at least seven days. Their manic episodes or symptoms can be so severe that they may need immediate medical care. Manic episodes include shifts in mood or behaviors that are out of character for the person’s usual behavior.

People with bipolar 1 disorder may also have depressive episodes that last for around two weeks. A person may also have a mixed episode that has depressive and manic symptoms at the same time. If four or more of these episodes happen in a year, it’s called “rapid cycling.”

Bipolar 1 disorder can develop at any age, but it most commonly appears around age 25. Symptoms can vary over time, but lifelong treatment can help effectively manage bipolar 1 disorder. 

What are the symptoms of bipolar 1 disorder?

In bipolar 1 disorder, only one manic episode needs to occur for a diagnosis. However, individuals with this disorder can also experience other mood states, including hypomania and depression. Each of these states is unique in the symptoms they can cause:

  • Mania — Mania is a complex state that is more than just feeling “emotionally high or invincible.” It typically involves increased energy, decreased sleep, impulsive behavior, and impaired decision-making. Manic episodes can have a huge impact on your daily life.
  • Depression — Depressive episodes involve deep, persistent feelings of sadness and hopelessness. You may also lose interest in doing activities that you normally enjoy. These episodes can have a huge impact on your daily life if you experience them. Bipolar depression is largely responsible for the mortality rate associated with bipolar disorder, which is why lifelong treatment is crucial. People with bipolar 1 may not 

Symptoms of a mania episode may include:

  • Feeling overly happy for long periods of time
  • Feeling jumpy or wired
  • Feeling like you don’t need as much sleep
  • Talking very fast, having racing thoughts and making rapid changes in topic
  • Feeling extremely restless
  • Feeling impulsive and making risky choices
  • Becoming easily distracted
  • Feeling overly important or invincible
  • Having a low appetite

Symptoms of a severe depressive episode may include:

  • Feeling extremely sad or hopeless for long periods of time
  • Withdrawing from friends and family
  • Losing in favorite activities or hobbies
  • Having a big change in weight or appetite
  • Feeling severe fatigue or not energetic
  • Failing to take care of yourself
  • Changing sleep habits
  • Talking slowly
  • Having memory problems
  • Thinking about death or suicide, attempting to take your life

For people with bipolar 1 disorder, both manic and depressive episode symptoms are typically so severe that they interfere with the ability to do activities necessary for daily living. However, symptom severity can also vary significantly for people with bipolar 1 disorder. Their symptoms may also be more or less severe from one manic or depressive episode to another. 

What can cause bipolar 1 disorder?

The exact cause of bipolar disorder isn’t known. Several risk factors can contribute to a bipolar 1 disorder:

  • Brain chemistry and structure changes 
  • Family history
  • Coexisting mental health issues
  • Traumatic experiences
  • Chronic stress
  • Hormonal changes
  • Substance abuse
  • Medical conditions
  • Medication side effects

Bipolar 1 disorder can be managed — don’t lose hope!

Bipolar 1 disorder can be effectively treated and managed. Getting help takes great courage. Bipolar 1 disorder makes your brain work a little differently, and that’s OK. Sometimes, people respond well to only one treatment, while others benefit from a combination of treatments. Treating bipolar 1 disorder often includes a comprehensive approach:

  • Psychotherapy — Your therapist may use a psychotherapy approach called process-based therapy (PBT) to tailor your treatment to your unique needs. PBT is a whole-person-centered approach that integrates the key components of a variety of evidence-based therapies. It helps identify the core process of emotion, thoughts, relationships and behaviors that are being affected by your bipolar 1 disorder. By identifying and working through these processes, your therapist can help you manage your symptoms effectively. As you grow and change, your therapist can bring in and change components based on your current concerns. PBT will always be used to treat you, not your diagnosis. 
  • Medications — Medications are often used to help stabilize bipolar 1 disorder mood fluctuations. It’s important to communicate with your health care provider about your medication and how it can best be managed long-term. Some common medications used to treat bipolar disorder include: 
  • Antipsychotics like valproate are often used to help reduce the severity of severe manic episodes.
  • Lithium may be used to help treat people with less severe bipolar manic episodes.
  • Antidepressants are often used to treat bipolar depressive episodes.

If you are prescribed an antidepressant medication, it’s essential to also take a mood stabilizer. Without the mood stabilizer, the antidepressant can trigger manic episodes or cycling. 

Lightfully Behavioral Health can help you thrive while living with bipolar 1 disorder

Living with bipolar 1 disorder can have a huge impact on your life and relationships. At Lightfully, we’re here to help you learn healthy coping skills and lessen the grip this condition has on your life. We will meet you where you are in your journey with bipolar 1 disorder and create a customized treatment plan to address your unique needs.

Change is possible. When you’re ready to take the first step, reach out to our Admissions Concierge Team. We’ll take the next steps together, toward the fullest, brightest version of you.

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