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Bipolar disorder, formerly known as manic-depressive disorder or manic depression, is listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) as a chronic mental health illness. Bipolar disorder is a mood disorder that is characterized by noticeable, unprovoked, sometimes extreme, changes in mood and behavior, that typically present as severe episodic mood swings, shifting between emotional highs (manias) to emotional lows (depressions) with intervals of stable moods. Medical News Today explains that the symptoms of bipolar disorder can affect a person’s energy levels, activity, social network, financial situation, sleep, behaviors, judgment, and family life. The cause of the bipolar disorder can be attributed to risk factors such as genetics and imbalanced brain chemicals. Bipolar disorder can develop at any age, but it is mostly diagnosed in individuals younger than age twenty-five.

Signs and Symptoms 

According to the diagnostic criteria outlined in the DSM-5, bipolar disorder is diagnosed when a person experiences three or more manic symptoms and five or more depressive symptoms. Examples of signs and symptoms of bipolar disorder could include, but are not limited to any combination of the following, provided by the Mayo Clinic:

  • Signs and symptoms during a mania or hypomania state:
      • Increased energy
      • Euphoria
      • Agitation
      • Easily distractible
      • Decreased need for sleep
      • Excessive talkativeness
      • Lack of judgment
      • Atypically upbeat
      • Difficulties at work
      • A shift in social activities
      • Psychosis
      • Relationship challenges
  • Signs and symptoms of a major depressive episode:
  • Inability to experience pleasure or loss of interest in social activities
  • Irritability
  • Crying spells (frequent and random crying throughout the day)
  • Depressed mood
  • Feelings of hopelessness
  • Loss of energy
  • A shift in sleeping habits (either sleeping too much or experiencing insomnia)
  • Slowed behavior
  • Restlessness
  • Feelings of excessive guilt
  • Inability to think clearly
  • Indecisiveness
  • Suicidal ideations
  • Lack of energy
  • A shift in appetite resulting in drastic weight loss or weight gain

Every individual is different and will experience a distinct combination of symptoms, with varying levels of severity and duration.


Bipolar disorder is a chronic mental health condition, but it is important to bear in mind that there are effective treatment options available. According to the National Advisory Mental Health Council, the treatment success rate for bipolar disorder is nearly eighty percent. A customized treatment plan will be developed that is specifically tailored to address the nuanced needs of each person. Treatment plans for bipolar disorder often include a combination of psychotherapy and medication, and they are not mutually exclusive. Treatment plans could include one or more psychotherapeutic modalities, such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), expressive arts therapy, interpersonal and social rhythm therapy (IPSRT), interpersonal psychotherapy (IPT), and more. The various types of medications prescribed for bipolar disorder include mood stabilizers, antidepressants, antipsychotics, anti-anxiety medications, and antidepressant-antipsychotic medications. Successful treatment will help individuals learn applicable strategies, techniques, and tools to effectively cope with and navigate the symptoms of bipolar disorder.

Further Information and Support

Navigating the challenges that arise from living with mental illness, struggling with substance abuse, and/ or addiction can not only be all-consuming but are often impossible to effectively handle without proper support. If you are concerned for yourself or a loved one regarding mental illness, substance abuse, and/ or addiction we recommend reaching out for help as soon as possible. Bear in mind that you do not have to be on this journey alone. At Upwell Advisors, we offer unique, customized concierge therapeutic services to provide our clients with unparalleled support throughout every step of the recovery process.

If left untreated, substance abuse, addiction, and/ or mental illness can result in long-lasting and potentially life-threatening consequences. The earlier you seek support, the sooner you and your loved ones can return to leading happy, healthy, and fulfilling lives. Please do not hesitate to reach out for guidance. We welcome the opportunity to discuss how we might best be able to help you or your loved one in the recovery process.

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