Bipolar Disorder: What Is It and What Treatments Are Available

By Stephanie Osuba

Bipolar disorder is classified as a mood disorder with cycling emotions of highs (mania) and lows (depression) by the Diagnostics and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). Periods of mania can last for as little as two days and as long as fourteen days at a time. It is this period of elevated mood and heightened irritability that sets bipolar disorder apart from the diagnosis of clinical depression. During a manic episode, people experience elevated moods of extreme happiness, decreased need for sleep, hyperactivity, and racing thoughts which manifest in pressured speech. Because mania makes people feel like they are on top of the world, people also tend to engage in risky behavior of sexual nature or even substance abuse to maintain the high. Manic episodes can also bring on an intense and easily irritable mood, which can also lead to a risk of violence. Besides one manic episode, in order to be diagnosed with bipolar disorder one must have had a depressive episode as well. This period can last from a few days to even months and is characterized by extreme sadness, disinterest in pleasurable activities, lack of energy, and feelings of helplessness and hopelessness.

There are two kinds of bipolar disorder, one being more manic and the other being more depressive. Bipolar I is characterized by one fully manic episode, that must last at least a week, and a depressive episode. Bipolar II is characterized by a period of depression and a period of hypomania. Hypomania has all the symptoms of a manic episode; however it usually doesn’t last as long, only about a few days. The speed at which people cycle through emotions largely depends on the person. Treatment for this disorder can either psychotherapy or medication. Most people seem to benefit greatly from a combined treatment of both. A common medication prescribed for this disorder is a mood stabilizer and even sometimes an antidepressant or other psychotropic medication. It’s best to talk to a professional in order to find the best individual treatment plan.

Source: Grohol, J. M., Psy. D. (2018, May 18). Bipolar Disorder – What is it? Can it be treated? Retrieved from 

If you or someone you know is struggling with bipolar disorder, the licensed psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, and psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy can assist you. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, visit

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