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Bipolar Disorder

Living a happy and fulfilling life with bipolar disorder is a definite possibility. AKUA Mind & Body is here to help! We utilize a blended therapy approach to treat the whole person, taking mental and social factors into consideration, rather than treating just the symptoms of bipolar disorder. Our treatment program provides clients with the tools needed to effectively manage the extreme highs and lows of this mental health condition. Bipolar disorder is commonly referred to as “manic depression”, because individuals experience very high moods (mania) and very low moods (depression). Bipolar disorder is a punctuated disorder rather than a cyclical disorder, and many individuals can act and feel completely normal in between depressive and manic episodes.

Bipolar disorder symptoms

Bipolar disorder symptoms can be broken down into manic symptoms and depressive symptoms. 

Manic symptoms include the following:

  • Distractibility
  • Racing thoughts/flight of ideas: rapid speech that changes focus from moment to moment based on association, distractions, or plays on words.
  • Irresponsibility and erratic behavior
  • Grandiosity or overconfidence
  • Increased activity associated with weight loss and sexual libido  
  • Decreased sleep
  • Pressured speech 

Severe mania can involve psychosis, which is characterized by hallucinations or delusions. Hallucinations can cause an individual to see, hear, or feel things that are not there, and delusions are distorted thoughts that cause individuals to believe that certain things are true when they are not. 

Depressive symptoms include the following:

  • Decreased energy
  • Irritability
  • Changes in weight and appetite
  • Changes in sleep
  • Difficulty concentrating, thinking or making decisions
  • Sadness
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Feelings of guilt
  • Psychomotor agitation: feelings of restlessness, tremors and meaningless movements

AKUA Mind & Body Treatment Program

AKUA Mind and Body utilizes a blend of holistic approaches combined with evidence-based treatment and medication assistance to help individuals who have been affected by bipolar disorder. This treatment approach allows clients to recognize their underlying triggers and then provides guidance to develop healthy coping skills.

Bipolar disorder subtypes

There are three main bipolar subtypes: 

  • Bipolar disorder type I
  • Bipolar disorder type II 
  • Cyclothymic disorder

Bipolar disorder type I (BPI) is characterized by at least one episode of mania, which leads to hospitalization or significant impairment in functioning. Individuals with bipolar I experience at least one manic episode in their lives. Although not required for the formal diagnosis, the vast majority will also experience major depressive episodes. The manic episodes are the defining characteristic of bipolar disorder type I.

In comparison, bipolar disorder type II (BPII) is characterized by severe depression combined with punctuated hypomanic episodes, in other words, the “up” moods never reach full-blown mania, and instead, depression is the major feature. Hypomania is a less severe form of mania that does not result in psychosis or cause impairments in social or occupational functioning.

Cyclothymic disorder is diagnosed in individuals who have both hypomanic and depressive symptoms for at least two years without meeting the full criteria for hypomania, mania, or major depression. 

How to deal with bipolar disorder

Although episodes of mania or depression can occur anytime, environmental stressors such as lack of sleep or psychosocial stressors such as financial strain, relationship conflicts, work stress or trauma in the home, play a significant role in triggering both mania and depression. Since manic and depressive episodes can be triggered, many mental health experts recommend psychotherapy to help individuals learn healthy coping skills and put them into practice when these stressors arise. 

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