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What Is Bipolar Disorder?

a young man begins treatment for bipolar disorder

Bipolar disorder is a chronic mood disorder that impacts people and families all over the world. Those who experience bipolar disorder sometimes have difficulty working, attending school, or managing their daily obligations. However, with the proper treatment and support, people with bipolar disorder can live healthy, productive lives. Bipolar disorder treatment is also a critical element in managing the symptoms of the condition. Getting help as early as possible can make a big difference, so knowing the signs of bipolar disorder is important. For more information about our bipolar disorder treatment program, contact Northpoint Seattle at 888.483.6031.

What Are Mood Disorders?

Mood disorders are mental health conditions in which a person has difficulty regulating their moods over time. One of the hallmarks of a mood disorder is experiencing moods that aren’t quite in line with what is going on around you. For example, a person with depression may feel down, sad, or indifferent even when positive things are happening. Bipolar disorder is a common mood disorder that involves periods of depression as well as periods of mania.

What Is Bipolar Disorder?

Bipolar disorder is called ‘bipolar’ because people experiencing it swing between periods of extreme depression and periods of mania. In some cases, people may also experience ‘mixed episodes’ where symptoms of depression and mania are happening simultaneously. In the past, the term ‘manic-depression’ was often used to describe the condition, but nowadays, clinicians and patients usually prefer ‘bipolar disorder.’ The condition is chronic, meaning that symptoms can persist for a long time, even over a lifetime.

Signs of Bipolar Disorder

Understanding what to look for when you or someone you love might be experiencing bipolar disorder is important, because getting help during episodes makes it easier to relieve symptoms. People with bipolar disorder can sometimes seek relief from other, less healthy sources such as drugs and alcohol if appropriate treatment is not available. Some of the signs to look for are:


  • Loss of interest in activities and hobbies previously enjoyed
  • Feelings of negativity, sadness, and indifference
  • Sleep and appetite disruptions
  • Trouble managing work, school, and daily life
  • Self-harming or thinking about suicide


  • Hyperactivity
  • Euphoria, or elevated mood that doesn’t seem appropriate for the situation
  • Engaging in risky behavior such as drugs or sex
  • Overspending or compulsive shopping
  • Psychosis, strange ideas, or hallucinations

The Types of Bipolar Disorder

There are three main types of bipolar disorder. Some people experience the condition in ways that don’t quite fit into the main three types, but most people with bipolar disorder do. These types are:

  • Type I – People with type I bipolar disorder experience periods of depression as well as periods of significant mania. They can also experience periods without symptoms in between.
  • Type II – For those with type II bipolar disorder, depressive episodes occur, as well as periods of hypomania, which means a mania that is not as severe as those that people with type I experience.
  • Cyclothymia – People with cyclothymia experience depressive and manic episodes that are moderate to mild.

No two experiences with bipolar disorder are the same, but a treatment program helps individuals learn more about the condition and develop healthier coping mechanisms. With the right help and support, individuals living with bipolar disorder can manage their triggers and symptoms.

What Is the Treatment for Bipolar Disorder?

In most situations, people with bipolar disorder are helped by taking medications as well as learning to manage their condition better. Often, therapy is used to help patients accept and process their feelings about their condition. Patients experiencing a serious depressive or manic episode may need more intensive treatment. For those also dealing with substance use disorder, getting help for both conditions is critical to achieving a lasting recovery.

Learn More About Treatment for Bipolar Disorder at Northpoint Seattle

At Northpoint Seattle, we offer flexible, individualized treatment for bipolar disorder. If you or someone that you care about is struggling with mental health or substance use, reach out to us today at 888.483.6031. You can also fill out our online form and let us get back to you.