“I’m really moody, so I must have bipolar disorder.” 

“I get angry very quickly; I have bipolar disorder.”

“Bipolar is an extremely rare disorder. On top of that, it completely ruins your life.” 

“If you have bipolar disorder, forget about making any plans for the future.” 

“Bipolar disorder is basically the same thing as split personality disorder.” 

“There’s only one kind of bipolar disorder: the completely life-ruining and disastrous kind.”

Listed above are common myths surrounding bipolar disorder. Fun fact: none of them are true.

Bipolar disorder is one of the most misunderstood psychological diagnoses. Many of us have subscribed to the narrative of bipolar disorder that we’ve seen in our culture. This includes having daily mood swings that are so severe that we experience whiplash. In addition to mood swings, some people believe that having bipolar disorder means that you will be constantly maniac and reckless. On top of that, this narrative assumes that an individual with bipolar has “multiple personalities,”and won’t remember the interactions they’ve had with people; similar to a Jackal and Mr. Hyde dynamic. All of these assumptions could not be farther from the truth. 

What is Bipolar Disorder?

Bipolar disorder is characterized as a mood disorder. Historically, bipolar disorder has been referred to as manic depression. Bipolar disorder causes individuals to experience changes in their mood that either falls in the manic or depressive spectrum.  A person with bipolar disorder can experience “highs,” that are referred to as manic or hypomanic episodes. A person can also experience “lows,” that are classified as depressive episodes. Individuals with bipolar disorder experience these episodes, though they are not quick shifting. People stay in these episodes for days to months, rather than minute to minute changes that are better described as mood swings. Something that many people do not know is that there are two different kinds of bipolar disorder: bipolar 1 and bipolar 2 disorder. 

What is Bipolar 1 Disorder?

To be diagnosed with bipolar 1 disorder, someone has to have experienced manic symptoms and they sometimes also experience depressive symptoms, though this is not necessary in order to have the diagnosis. So, what is a manic episode? A manic episode occurs during a “high” period. A manic episode is a period of time that an individual’s mood is abnormally elevated and positive, resembling what someone would look like when taking stimulant drugs (e.g., cocaine). An abnormally high level of irritation accompanies the elevated mood, too. In addition, individuals experience an uncharacteristically high level of energy and often engage in many risky activities.  They often talk fast and they say things that suggest that they have an extremely high self-esteem. This lasts for a minimum of a week, but often longer. 

What is Bipolar 2 Disorder?

Bipolar 2 disorder looks a bit different from bipolar1 disorder. To be diagnosed with bipolar 2 disorder, someone had to have experienced at least depressive episode. When someone is depressed, they have a sense of sadness, worthlessness, and hopelessness. They can stay in this state for long periods of time. But, then their mood shifts, but not to a typical state. Rather, people with bipolar 2 disorder experience what are called hypomanic episodes. Hypomanic episodes are similar to manic episodes, though they are not as severe. People who are in a hypomanic state will have noticeable differences in the way they talk and interact with people. Their mood is elevated and irritable, in a manner that is not typical for them. 

How Common is Bipolar Disorder?

Depending on the format of the study, prevalence rates of bipolar spectrum disorders range from 1%-2.4%. Bipolar 1 disorder is diagnosed at a moderately higher rate than bipolar 2. This means that approximately 46 million people throughout the world are diagnosed with bipolar spectrum disorders. Bipolar disorder is diagnosed at a higher rate for men than for women.

Treatment for Bipolar in Phoenix, AZ

At Sentience Psychological Services, we take the diagnosis and treatment of bipolar seriously. The first step is to be properly diagnosed. This is essential, particularly given that this is one of the most misdiagnosed mental illnesses. At Sentience Psychological Services, we can offer a comprehensive psychological evaluation that can definitively tell you if you suffer from bipolar disorder. Through our experience of providing treatment for bipolar, we have found that working hand in hand with a psychiatrist is a necessity. This allows for a treatment team to work together in order to come up with the best medications and approaches for the individual. Collaborating on treatment for bipolar is important to the individual’s ability to navigate the disorder. 

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

To help manage the depressive episodes that often come along with bipolar disorder, we incorporate cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) to treat bipolar disorder. In CBT, we look at the relationship between your thoughts, feelings, and actions. In treatment for bipolar disorder, looking at this relationship can help address any unhelpful thinking patterns that are getting in the way of promoting your emotional well-being. 

Identifying Symptoms of Mania

Experiencing mania and hypomania can be scary and devastating to both you and those around you. Often, these episodes  can feel like they are unpredictable without a clear onset. With this in mind, our therapists in Phoenix, AZ will help you identify the early signs of a manic or hypomanic episode, which will give you the confidence to know when to intervene if an episode arises.  We can also help you explore the factors that “kick start” these episodes. Knowing the signs and symptoms that lead up to an episode can give you a sense of control. We will help you navigate the interpersonal issues (e.g., arguments with friends, family experiencing fear in your presence during an episode) that arise from your behavior during these episodes.  

Coping Skills

Incorporating coping skills in our treatment approach is vital. Through our experience providing treatment for bipolar disorder, we know that this disorder is accompanied by a high level of stress. We also know that high levels of stress can propel you into an episode. To manage that stress, we teach a wide variety of coping skills as part of the treatment for bipolar disorder. Learning coping skills during the treatment for bipolar disorder can not only help you navigate the overwhelming feelings that accompany bipolar spectrum disorder, but they can also assist you with other psychological struggles.

Begin Working With Sentience Psychological Services in Phoenix, AZ

We are well-versed in treating bipolar disorder from our Phoenix, AZ-based therapy practice. Our team of trained and qualified service providers is able to effectively diagnose and treat bipolar 1 and bipolar 2 disorder. To begin bipolar treatment, follow these steps:

Send us an email and let us know what’s going on.
Get to know our team of therapists that are ready to provide you with effective treatment for bipolar disorder.
Begin working with our team to comprehensively treat bipolar disorder.

Other Counseling Services Offered in Phoenix, AZ

We offer many services in our Phoenix-based counseling clinic. In addition, we can also help you wherever you are in the state with online therapy in Arizona. Aside from treatment for bipolar disorder, we offer psychological counseling and psychological evaluations. These evaluations include personality assessment, intelligence testing, forensic evaluation, and diagnostic evaluations. We can also assist with trauma therapy and counseling for grief and loss.