The term “bipolar” is used frequently in society. However, the term is often overused without any understanding of the true meaning behind bipolar disorder. Though many people are familiar the general idea of depression, most individuals cannot accurately distinguish between bipolar disorder and depression. One is not any more significant than the other, but each requires different treatment protocols and different approaches to psychotherapy. Today, we’ll take a look at the differences, so you can better understand what bipolar disorder is.

What is Bipolar Disorder?

At its core, bipolar disorder is a type of depression commonly referred to as manic depression. Bipolar disorder is not a response to external stimuli, though the disorder can affect how individuals react to certain events or changes in their lives. Unlike general depression, bipolar disorder is typically caused by a chemical or hormonal imbalance which can be treated with the help of an experienced psychotherapist in Long Island.

Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder

The symptoms of bipolar disorder often vary from person to person, but most experience periods of mania followed by sequences of severe depression.

During a manic phase, an individual may experience:

  • Feelings of euphoria and elation
  • Feelings of anxiety or the need to move constantly
  • Increased and unrealistic self-confidence
  • Constantly racing thoughts
  • Acting on impulse without concern for consequences

During a depressive phase, an individual may experience:

  • Severe lethargy
  • Feelings of hopelessness
  • Poor-quality sleep or insomnia
  • Lack of joy when participating in hobbies
  • Poor performance on the job or in school
  • Severe or extreme anxiety when interacting with others
  • Feelings of guilt or self-blame
  • Fuzzy memory or thought process

These periods of mania and depression often follow one another and can last for as little as a few hours to as much as a few months. During these times, it is imperative that individuals seek help so they can regain balance and stability in their lives.

What Triggers Bipolar Symptoms?

Like many mood swings, the symptoms of bipolar disorder are often triggered by stress. In the modern day, it is difficult at best to cope with stressful situations as they are all around us. Individuals who are struggling to manage bipolar disorder on their own may find that their symptoms are triggered by everyday activities. For these individuals, it is absolutely vital that they speak with an experienced psychotherapist like Lisa Lempel-Sander at Long Island Counseling. A professional psychotherapist will help the individual develop healthy ways to cope with stress and may even work with your doctor to find a medication to reduce the severity of the symptoms.

So, isn’t It Just Depression?

Depression is a general term that covers a variety of conditions. Some of the more commonly known are:

  • Seasonal affective disorder
  • Postpartum depression
  • Chronic depression
  • And bipolar disorder

Bipolar disorder is a type of depression, but it often requires more complex treatment options than seasonal affective disorder or chronic depression. Different types of depression often present the same symptoms as bipolar disorder, particularly when an individual is in a depressive phase. However, only an experienced psychotherapist can accurately diagnose which type of depression a person is experiencing.

Are Medications the Answer?

While medications may help some people manage their symptoms, it truly depends on the individual. When you work with a psychotherapist in Long Island, they’ll assess your individual condition before making a recommendation on the next step in treatment. Regardless, your psychotherapist will work with you to develop healthy responses to stressful situations so you can be prepared to handle challenges that life throws your way. That said, you should never feel upset if medication is recommended. It’s not a sign of weakness — it’s simply a way to help you reach the emotional stability you’ve been seeking.

Schedule an appointment with your trusted psychotherapist in Long Island today and get started seeing improvements.