How is Bipolar Disorder Treated?

How is Bipolar Disorder Treated?

Bipolar disorder affects 4% of adults and nearly as many adolescents. The symptoms can appear in children as young as five, yet the disorder gets diagnosed most often around age 25.

Even though this challenging condition is known for causing severe mood swings, its symptoms aren’t always extreme; they differ depending on the type of bipolar disorder. Despite the many complexities of bipolar disorder, two facts hold true.

First, early intervention — especially in children and teens — improves a person’s long-term outcomes. And second, the treatments for bipolar disorder are well-established and can make a difference in your life.

As a behavioral health specialist and family medicine physician, David Leszkowitz, DO, at White Lake Family Medicine in White Lake, Michigan, helps people of all ages with bipolar symptoms. He offers compassionate treatment, providing support for patients and their families.

Here, you learn the basics about bipolar disorder, its symptoms, and treatments.

Three types of bipolar disorder

There are three primary types of bipolar disorder. The severity of your symptoms and how often you have mood swings vary with each type.

Bipolar I disorder

People with bipolar I disorder have at least one manic episode lasting a week or longer, often having such severe symptoms that they need in-patient care to restore balance and stay safe.

Most people have ongoing mood swings between high-energy mania and major depression, but the frequency varies for each person. You usually have a stable, neutral mood period between the mood episodes.

Bipolar II disorder

Bipolar II disorder has swings between hypomania (a less severe version of mania) and major depression. You may experience hypomania as a positive change, like a boost of energy that improves your performance at school or work.

Cyclothymic disorder

In cyclothymic disorder, your moods swing between mild hypomania and depression. However, this type of bipolar disorder causes frequent swings for at least two years. Despite having mild symptoms, the frequency of your swings can impact your ability to function.

Symptoms of bipolar disorder

Mania and hypomania share the same symptoms; however, mania causes extremely high energy, while hypomania is more subdued. Their symptoms include:

Severe mania may cause psychotic symptoms like hallucinations and delusions.

Depression causes symptoms such as:

Children have the same manic and depressive symptoms as adults. 

Treatments for bipolar disorder

Treatment for bipolar disorder includes medication and therapy.


People with bipolar disorder find mood-stabilizing medications essential. After a manic episode ends, you continue taking medication to keep your mood steady. Taking medication regularly often prevents or reduces future mood swings.

Mood stabilizers also treat bipolar depression. Should you need an antidepressant, it’s critical to take it with a mood stabilizer. Antidepressants alone can trigger a manic episode in people with bipolar disorder.


Therapy gives you a place to discuss the challenges caused by bipolar disorder and learn skills for improving your life. For example, you may need help building relationships or managing stress or anger.

During therapy, you can learn to recognize early warning signs of an impending mood swing and how to prevent it. Therapy also helps restore your sleep-wake cycle. Many people with bipolar disorder struggle with insomnia, and sleep loss often triggers manic episodes.

If you’re worried about signs of bipolar disorder in yourself, your child, or your partner, call the office or request an appointment online to ask questions, get an evaluation, or start treatment.

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