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Understanding Bipolar Disorder and the Extreme Mood Swings

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HealthStar Home Health is presenting a series on various mental health and behavioral health topics. In this series of articles, we take a look at different subjects and provide information to help you know how best to care for your loved one.

Once termed as manic depression, bipolar disorder is a mental health condition that causes dramatic mood swings that include emotional highs, referred to as mania or hypomania, and lows, known as depression. Individuals with bipolar disorder experience time periods, referred to as “mood episodes”, that are unusually intense and affect the person’s emotions, sleep pattern and activity levels, including risky behavior.

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), bipolar disorder affects men and women equally, with approximately 2.6% of the United States population having been diagnosed with the condition and nearly 83% of these cases are considered severe. The average age-of-onset is 25 years, but it can occur earlier in the teenage years.

Society has misconceptions about what bipolar disorder actually is. Many people believe the disorder is characterized by fluctuations between being happy and sad, but individuals in a manic state do not feel “happy”. Another common misconception is that individuals with bipolar disorder are constantly shifting between being up and down. Some do fluctuate between being manic and depressed quickly, this is called rapid-cycling, however this is not the norm. Typically, people slowly become more depressed, return to their baseline, and then slowly become manic. At HealthStar Home Health, our clients with bipolar disorder usually notice when they are manic, but may not always realize how depressed they have gradually become.

Here at HealthStar Home Health, we serve individuals in our adult and children’s mental health programs that are diagnosed with bipolar disorder. When serving individuals with bipolar disorder, we understand that each person with bipolar disorder has a different experience with their mental illness. Some clients tell us they feel a strong sense of dichotomy, that they tend to view the world in terms of black and white and it can be difficult to “live in the gray area”. We have learned that our bipolar clients tend to have great insight into their mental health symptoms and we support and use that insight when caring for them.

Symptoms and the severity can widely vary. Severe episodes of mania or depression can include psychotic symptoms such as hallucinations or delusional thoughts. Individuals with bipolar disorder who are psychotic may be wrongly diagnosed as having schizophrenia. Some may cycle rapidly or some may experience extended periods with no symptoms at all.

Four Types of Bipolar Disorder:

  • Bipolar I Disorder
  • Bipolar II Disorder
  • Cyclothymic Disorder, or Cyclothymia
  • Other Types

To learn more about each type of bipolar disorder and the symptoms, visit:

We invite you to learn more about the mental health services offered by HealthStar Home Health. Both our Children’s Therapeutic Services and Supports (CTSS) and Adult Rehabilitative Mental Health Services (ARMHS) feature cultural sensitivity and are provided with empathy to the underserved members of the communities and regions we serve.

Our highly trained and culturally competent multi-disciplinary team of mental health professionals, practitioners and behavioral aides provide CTSS and ARMHS services in the home, school, and in the community.

HealthStar Home Health understands how overwhelming and challenging it can be to care for a loved one at home and also offer a variety of home health care services to help support your loved one to live a more independent and fulfilling life at home. To learn more about the various mental health and behavioral health topics being presented in this series, such as autism, seasonal affective disorder (SAD), and schizophrenia, visit our blog.

With cultural care values as the foundation, our caregivers are able to provide quality service, delivering it with increased awareness and perspective. As we serve our clients and communities, we are motivated by our desire to bring services to everyone in need. Call us today at 888-689-3391 for more information or to schedule a no-charge consultation.