Understanding bipolar blackouts (and what to do about them)


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Bipolar disorder affects about 4% of adults in the U.S. It’s a mental disorder that involves intensive periods of mania and depression. Each can last for weeks to months at a time. This disorder is one that continues throughout a person’s lifetime, while episodes of mania and depression may occur frequently or maybe just a few times throughout someone’s life span. The frequency and intensity of symptoms can significantly vary from person to person. One person may experience frequent episodes while another may only experience a few episodes throughout their whole life. This can also depend on the type of bipolar disorder a person has. The types include bipolar I, bipolar II, cyclothymic and a few other less common types.

The symptoms of bipolar disorder depend on the type of bipolar disorder. They also depend on the type of episode a person is experiencing or will soon begin experiencing. Some people will experience a change in emotions prior to entering an episode. Others may not. Manic episodes often include symptoms like increased energy, increased irritation, lack of sleep, an inflated sense of self and impaired ability to make decisions. Some examples of symptoms that can occur during depressive episodes include depressive mood, changed sleeping patterns, deflated sense of self and poor concentration. Another symptom that can occur is called bipolar blackout. 

What is a bipolar blackout?

Bipolar blackout is a term that refers to a period of memory loss during and after a manic episode. When a person experiences mania and goes into a “blackout,” they have trouble staying cognizant of their environment and what they do during their episode. After their blackout ends, they may forget what happened or where exactly they were. People who experience bipolar blackouts report having little to no memory of what occurred during the blackout. This can make blackouts frustrating to go through for not only people who have bipolar disorder but also their loved ones. 

Fortunately, bipolar disorder can be better managed through treatment. To learn more about the types of treatment that exist for this condition and the blackouts caused by it, keep reading below.

What types of treatments are there for people who experience blackouts from bipolar disorder?

  • Talk therapy — An effective treatment method for people with bipolar disorder is talk therapy. Often, therapy can help a person manage their symptoms and improve their quality of life. Certain types of therapy, like the process-based approach, specifically help people with these types of disorders create long-term plans for their lives and work toward intentional and positive outcomes. Sometimes combining medication with talk therapy can be even more effective for a person than one or the other. A licensed mental health professional can help walk you through your treatment and explore what may work best for your unique circumstances. 
  • Medication — Some people with bipolar disorder will go on medications that will help treat a specific component of their condition, like one that targets the mania or one that specifically targets the depression. There is no one medication that works best for those with bipolar disorder, and if you and your health care provider decide to try it out, it may take a while to figure out which type of medication helps the most for you. Medications for bipolar disorder can serve as mood stabilizers, making the swings between mania and depression less intense. 

Lightfully wants to help you deal with blackouts from bipolar disorder

Our Lightfully team mission is to work with you to change your life compassionately. We strive to provide high-quality mental health care to various types of clients through a focused approach to process-based therapy. The framework of our clinic consists of evidence-based, clearly defined, data-driven and whole-person-centered care. Lightfully offers various layers of service to both adults and teens through our residential, virtual, partial hospitalization (also called our Day Treatment programs), and intensive outpatient programs. We regularly see clients who actively manage mood disorders, anxiety disorders, personality disorders and trauma disorders. If you experience bipolar blackouts, we may be able to guide you through your bipolar disorder.

Our licensed, clinical experts see each client as a complex and layered human – not just a diagnosis. We value our clients as they are and hope to enrich their lives through treatment. Our vision for the future is an authentic and loving community where everyone can be seen, heard, and valued as they are. We believe in the light within each individual, and when that light is properly nurtured it can allow a person to shine brighter than ever before.

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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