What Is Bipolar Disorder?

Jennifer Van Ness

Sep 22, 2021

Bipolar Disorder is a classified mood disorder, which is a mental illness that effects a person’s mood. It is often mislabeled as Manic Depression but the correct term is Bipolar Disorder. Put simply, it is a combination of depressive symptoms and manic symptoms. The negative stigma and lack of education surrounding mental illness make it scary for individuals who have been diagnosed, or know someone who has been diagnosed, with Bipolar Disorder.  In other cases, diagnosis can be a relief, as it provides answers to the symptoms they have been struggling with.

There are three states of being that indicate certain types of Bipolar Disorder:

Mania and hypomania- expansive or irritable mood, increased self-esteem or grandiosity, decreased need for sleep, more talkative, flight of ideas/racing thoughts, distractibility, increased goal directed activity or purposeless non-goal directed activity, excessive risk taking behaviors that may cause severe consequences.

Mania vs Hypomania

Mania causes marked impairments in social and occupational functioning or may require hospitalization. 

People with hypomania are often able to function without severe impairment or need for hospitalization but can still struggle with severe consequences of their actions. (DSM 5)

Depression - sad mood, decreased interest in all of almost all activities, weight changes, sleep disturbances, feelings of restlessness or slowing down, fatigue or loss of energy, feelings of worthlessness or excessive guilt, trouble concentrating, recurring thoughts of death (DSM 5)

There are two primary types of Bipolar Disorder: 

Baseline indicates when a person feels like themselves and are having no symptoms.

Bipolar I - when a person goes above their baseline into mania for at least a week and experiences lengths of time below their baseline into depression 

Bipolar II - when a person rises above their baseline into hypomania for at least four days and eventually goes below their baseline to become depressed

Although there is no cure for Bipolar Disorder it is treatable 

Have hope. Extensive research has found that Bipolar Disorder is best addressed with a combination of medication prescribed by a psychiatrist and with therapy/counseling by a clinician who is experienced with treating mental illnesses. With a skilled treatment team, illness management and balance in life is achievable.




American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.).


Written by:

Jennifer Van Ness


Sep 22, 2021


Meet Your Counselor

Schedule a call with a member of our team.

Whether you need help for yourself, a child in your care, or for a personal relationship, we are here to help.

Here is what you need to do:

  1. Answer a few questions about yourself and how we can help you.

  2. Discuss insurance coverage 

  3. Book your session with a Licensed Professional Counselor.

Accepting all major health insurances


Get help Now