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San Antonio Bipolar Disorder Treatment Program

San Antonio Bipolar Disorder Treatment, Bipolar Disorder Treatment
Treating Bipolar Disorder in San Antonio

Bipolar disorder, formerly called manic depression, is more prevalent in our cultural awareness than it used to be. Increased awareness of mental health conditions is a positive step, and bipolar disorder has been diagnosed in about 2.8% of the U.S. population, with about 83% of those cases classified as severe.

So although bipolar disorder is indeed a serious mental health concern, it is not as prevalent as you might assume. Those who are diagnosed with bipolar disorder may experience extreme mood swings, with intense emotional highs known as manic or hypomanic episodes, and emotional lows, which share the same symptoms as major depressive disorder. These mood swings can significantly impact daily life, relationships, and overall functioning.

If you suspect yourself or a loved one of having symptoms of bipolar disorder, don’t try to diagnose yourself. Seek professional help. Here at Stone River Recovery Center in San Antonio, we offer free, confidential assessments followed by individualized recommendations for treatment. 

What is Bipolar Disorder?

Bipolar disorder is a mental health condition characterized by extreme mood swings that include emotional highs (mania or hypomania) and lows (depression). These mood swings can affect an individual’s energy levels, activity, sleep, judgment, behavior, and the ability to think clearly.

There are several types of bipolar disorder, including:

  1. Bipolar I Disorder: This type involves manic episodes that last at least seven days or are severe enough to require immediate medical care. Depressive episodes often occur as well, typically lasting at least two weeks.
  2. Bipolar II Disorder: In this type, the individual experiences both depressive episodes and hypomanic episodes, which are less severe than manic episodes.
  3. Cyclothymic Disorder (Cyclothymia): Cyclothymia involves numerous periods of hypomanic symptoms as well as numerous periods of depressive symptoms lasting for at least two years (one year in children and adolescents).

Bipolar disorder can have a significant impact on a person’s life, affecting relationships, work, and daily functioning. However, with proper treatment, including medication, therapy, and lifestyle adjustments, many individuals with bipolar disorder can manage their symptoms effectively and lead fulfilling lives.

What are the Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder?

Bipolar disorder can manifest through a variety of symptoms, which can vary in severity and frequency depending on the individual and the type of bipolar disorder they have. Here are some common symptoms associated with bipolar disorder:

  1. Manic Episodes: During manic episodes, a person may experience:
    • Feeling extremely elevated, euphoric, or irritable
    • Increased energy and activity levels
    • Decreased need for sleep without feeling tired
    • Racing thoughts and difficulty concentrating
    • Grandiose beliefs or inflated self-esteem
    • Engaging in risky behaviors such as reckless spending, substance abuse, or impulsive decision-making
    • Agitation or irritability
  2. Hypomanic Episodes: These are similar to manic episodes but less severe. Symptoms may include:
    • Elevated mood or irritability
    • Increased energy and activity levels
    • Racing thoughts
    • Increased confidence or inflated self-esteem
    • Engaging in risky behaviors
  3. Depressive Episodes: During depressive episodes, a person may experience:
    • Persistent sadness or emptiness
    • Loss of interest or pleasure in activities once enjoyed
    • Significant changes in appetite or weight
    • Sleep disturbances (insomnia or excessive sleeping)
    • Fatigue or loss of energy
    • Feelings of worthlessness or excessive guilt
    • Difficulty concentrating or making decisions
    • Thoughts of death or suicide
  4. Mixed Episodes: Some individuals may experience symptoms of both mania/hypomania and depression simultaneously. This can include feeling agitated, irritable, or restless while also experiencing depressive symptoms like sadness or hopelessness.
  5. Cyclothymic Symptoms: In cyclothymic disorder, symptoms are milder but chronic, involving numerous periods of hypomanic symptoms as well as numerous periods of depressive symptoms lasting for at least two years (one year in children and adolescents).

It’s important to note that not everyone with bipolar disorder experiences all of these symptoms, and the severity and frequency of symptoms can vary widely between individuals. Additionally, these symptoms can sometimes overlap with other mental health conditions, so it’s crucial to consult a mental health professional for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment.

What Causes Bipolar Disorder?

The exact cause of bipolar disorder is not fully understood, but it is believed to result from a combination of genetic, biological, and environmental factors.

Here are some factors that may contribute to the development of bipolar disorder:

  1. Genetics: Bipolar disorder tends to run in families, suggesting a genetic component. Individuals with a family history of bipolar disorder are at a higher risk of developing the condition. However, having a family history does not guarantee that someone will develop bipolar disorder, as other factors also play a role.
  2. Brain Chemistry and Structure: Imbalances in neurotransmitters, the chemicals that transmit signals in the brain, may contribute to bipolar disorder. Changes in the structure or function of certain brain regions involved in mood regulation, such as the prefrontal cortex and amygdala, have also been observed in individuals with bipolar disorder.
  3. Biological Factors: Hormonal imbalances, disruptions in the body’s circadian rhythm (the internal biological clock that regulates sleep-wake cycles), and abnormalities in the endocrine system may play a role in the development of bipolar disorder.
  4. Environmental Triggers: Stressful life events, trauma, significant life changes, and disruptions in sleep patterns can trigger the onset of bipolar episodes in susceptible individuals. Substance abuse, particularly alcohol and stimulant drugs, can also worsen symptoms or trigger episodes in those with bipolar disorder.
  5. Medical Conditions: Certain medical conditions, such as thyroid disorders, multiple sclerosis, and traumatic brain injury, have been linked to an increased risk of bipolar disorder. Additionally, some medications, such as corticosteroids and antidepressants, may trigger manic episodes in susceptible individuals.

In addition, structural and functional abnormalities in the brain, including the amygdala and prefrontal cortex, may be associated with bipolar disorder.

How is Bipolar Disorder Diagnosed?

Diagnosing bipolar disorder involves a comprehensive assessment by a mental health professional. This typically includes a clinical interview, in which the client will provide a detailed personal and family history and discuss how their symptoms impact their daily functioning. The client may be asked to keep a journal to track mood swings, sleep patterns, and other factors. The assessment will also include a physical examination to rule out medical conditions that may mimic bipolar symptoms, as well as psychological testing to assess cognitive and emotional functioning. 

Bipolar can be very difficult to diagnose. Its symptoms are not present all the time, they vary widely, and they can be masked by factors such as substance use. In addition, people are often in denial of their symptoms or reluctant to talk about them with their doctor. According to a psychiatry professor quoted in an NBC News article, “the average length of time between a person’s first episode and getting the correct diagnosis is eight years.” 

How is Bipolar Disorder Treated?

Managing bipolar disorder often involves a combination of medication, psychotherapy, and lifestyle changes. At Stone River, we work with our clients to determine which medications might be useful, encourage clients to participate in individual and group therapy, and recommend lifestyle changes that will support long-term recovery. 

For clients whose bipolar diagnosis co-occurs with a substance use disorder, we begin treatment with medical detox and then move on to treat both disorders simultaneously in residential or outpatient treatment. 

Help for Bipolar Disorder in San Antonio

Bipolar disorder is a complex mental health condition that requires a comprehensive approach to diagnosis and treatment. With the right combination of medication, therapy, and support, people with bipolar disorder can manage their symptoms and lead fulfilling lives.

If you or someone you know is experiencing symptoms of bipolar disorder, contact Stone River Recovery Center today. We can provide the compassionate, professional care you need to find stability and well-being.