According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), the average onset of bipolar disorder is 25 years old; however, it can appear at any age. Additionally, every year almost three percent of the population in the United States in diagnosed with bipolar disorder, of which almost 83% is classified as severe.
When diagnosing bipolar disorder, it is important to not be misdiagnosed with schizophrenia, as is sometimes the case with individuals who have psychotic symptoms. To be diagnosed with bipolar disorder, an individual may appear to have distinct manic or depressed states or experiencing mixed episodes simultaneously or in rapid sequence. Other symptoms include hallucinations or delusions and the psychotic symptoms mirror the individual’s mood. The individual may also feel depressed and hopeless or helpless and unable to perform normal, everyday tasks.
Stuart MacFarlane, a psychotherapist notes there are several factors which contribute to bipolar disorder. These factors include:
- Brain structure
Once an individual is diagnosed with bipolar disorder, MacFarlane states the bipolar disorder will be categorized in one of four ways:
- Bipolar I Disorder
- Bipolar II Disorder
- Cyclothymic Disorder or Cyclothymia
- Bipolar Disorder "other specified" and "unspecified"
After diagnosis, an individual can be treated in one or more ways. Treatment could include medication, psychotherapy with a therapist such as Stuart MacFarlane, electroconvulsive therapy, self-management strategies and education, or through meditation, faith and prayer. Having a way of coping with bipolar disorder will be beneficial as many times, individuals will also experience anxiety disorders, ADHD, PTSD, and substance abuse issues.
MacFarlane also notes that if at any time you start to experience any of the symptoms mentioned above, you should seek a professional’s help.