Bipolar Disorder

bipolar-iconWhile everyone goes through normal ups and downs, those with bipolar disorder have extreme swings between depression and mania. Bipolar disorder symptoms can be effectively controlled with a combination of medication, counseling, and consistency. However, the nature of bipolar disorder can make this harder over the long haul.

The supportive team of bipolar disorder treatment professionals at Ascension Seton Behavioral Health in Austin, Texas is committed to ensuring that you or your loved one receives the help and guidance needed through every step of the healing process. Please call us at 512-324-2039 or contact us online to learn more.

About Bipolar Disorder

Originally dubbed “circular insanity” in 1854, bipolar disorder is often called manic-depressive disorder. There are currently four different types recognized in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders:

  • Bipolar I has one or more episodes of mania. These may or may not have accompanying depressive episodes.
  • Bipolar II patients have a higher number of mild manic episodes. They also will have one or more episodes of major depression.
  • Cyclothymia is a history of altering between hypomania and milder depressive episodes. This pattern continues for at least a year.
  • Bipolar disorder NOS covers the spectrum of bipolar symptoms that do not fall under other classifications. This can include rapid cycling, where episodes may last a day or less before changing.

Depressive episodes can include persistent feelings of sadness, low worth, anxiety, and hopelessness. Often bipolar patients may isolate themselves from friends and family during this time. A major depressive episode lasts at least two weeks. It may also continue for several months.

Manic episodes are a time of high-energy moods. Patients may also notice irritability. During a manic phase, bipolar patients may sleep very little. Racing thoughts or starting many new projects are both common during mania. Sometimes patients may experience hallucinations. Extreme anxiety can also occur during a manic episode.

Either depressive or manic episodes can range from mild to extreme. They may also occur at the same time, which is called a mixed affective episode. An example of this could be feeling sad during a manic episode, or racing thoughts while depressed. This mixed state is often the most at-risk time for bipolar patients. In this frame of mind, substance abuse, risky behavior, and suicide attempts are more likely.

Bipolar disorder is most commonly diagnosed through the late teens or early 20s. About half of all cases show symptoms before age 25. Some patients may even notice symptoms during childhood. Left untreated, bipolar disorder can worsen. Episodes may start occurring more often or become more severe when they do appear. Delayed treatment can mean more problems among friends and family. Professional relationships are also at risk.

One of the biggest challenges in treating bipolar disorder is that patients often don’t recognize their own symptoms. For this reason, engaging friends and family during the diagnosis process may be necessary. Patterns are typically much more visible to the outside observer. This input can provide valuable insight during diagnosis and treatment.

Our Treatment Philosophy

Bipolar disorder remains one of the most misdiagnosed mental illnesses today. Patients who seek help during their depressive phase are often diagnosed with clinical depression. However the second half of the cycle may not be as obvious. This is because patients in a manic phase rarely seek medical treatment during that time. A high percentage of those with bipolar disorder also suffer from drug or alcohol abuse. Other mental health concerns are common in those who are bipolar.

The team at Ascension Seton Behavioral Health focuses first on an accurate assessment of all patients. This can lead (often for the first time) to a correct diagnosis. Next, several different aspects of physical and mental health are addressed. This combination approach allows for better control of bipolar disorder symptoms:

  • Long-term treatment with mood stabilizing medication; this is sometimes in combination with anti-depressants
  • Empowering patients to develop an effective tracking system for their physical and mental health
  • Ongoing therapy that focuses on behavior modification and education about the disorder
  • Structured and compassionate support for patients and loved ones to repair and strengthen family relationships

We include elements of traditional treatment along with the latest medical research and successes. This allows for a more well-rounded management of the disorder. We also help patients develop self-awareness to regain control of their lives more effectively. At the same time, we recognize that each patient is an individual who struggles with a unique set of stressors and customize our treatment accordingly.

We offer both inpatient and outpatient options for bipolar treatment. Inpatient programs take place in a caring, supportive environment, while outpatient programs include group therapy and private sessions. Both options give patients a sense of community that fosters a positive environment for managing the symptoms of bipolar disorder.

If you’re ready to reclaim your life from the unpredictability of bipolar disorder, please don’t hesitate to contact us today at 512-324-2039. Our individualized approach toward bipolar symptoms is completely focused on helping you achieve a successful recovery and enjoy a vibrant life.