Moods within this disorder category may be mainly manic or depressive, cycling rapidly (4+ cycles per year) or more slowly. The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) estimates that bipolar disorder effects roughly 3% of the population, impacting men and women in mostly equal numbers.
If typical mood variations between high and low were not difficult enough, bipolarity can swing moods to hypomanic and manic states well outside the range of ‘normal’. While high’s may feel awesome, the inverse is devastating, and both high’s and low’s can be dangerous, if not deadly.
Whereas unipolar depression may mean a person contends solely with major depressive episodes, bipolar is distinguished by both ‘poles’ ensuring moods go up or down in drastic, confusing, and often disorienting ways. Because both mania and depression may disrupt sleep patterns, impact weight, cause irritation, and loss of capability to focus or concentrate, medication is typically the first round of defense, even if merely cyclothymic (never fully hypomanic mood or major depressive mood).
Our clients contending with a bipolar diagnosis may be individuals, but typically come to us with relational issues taking place within a couple.