What is bipolar disorder?

There’s far more to bipolar disorder than mood swings. It can cause extreme negativity, changes in attitude and personality, and lead to unhealthy relationships.

request an appointment

The key feature of bipolar disorder is back-and-forth shifts in mood between mania and depression. These moods might last for days, weeks, or months before another shift happens. During the manic phase, your symptoms can include:

  • Hyperactivity (endless energy)
  • Little need for sleep
  • Extreme restlessness
  • Talking often and quickly
  • Overexcitement
  • Risk-taking behaviors

When the manic phase passes, you sink into depression with the opposite symptoms. You have no energy, want to sleep far more, and withdraw from family and friends. You feel desperately sad, hopeless, and worthless for weeks or months.

Are there different kinds of bipolar disorder?

Bipolar disorder takes three forms:

Bipolar 1 disorder

Bipolar 1 disorder is the severest form. Mood shifts are extreme, and you can develop psychotic symptoms like hallucinations or delusions, believing things to be real that aren’t. Depression can be so severe that you can barely function and could consider suicide.

Bipolar 2 disorder

Bipolar 2 also causes severe depression, but manic episodes tend to be less extreme. You’re unlikely to develop psychosis with bipolar 2 disorder.


Cyclothymia is a less intense kind of bipolar disorder. Mood shifts tend to be more regular, and you experience hypomania (less severe manic symptoms) rather than mania.

Severe bipolar disorder can affect your ability to study, work, and lead a normal life. Even cyclothymia, the mildest kind of bipolar, can make everyday life a considerable challenge.

How is bipolar disorder treated?

It’s essential that you learn how to control your mania and depression. Nola Ayoola-Yussuf at Potomac Shores Mental Health and Wellness helps you recognize the warning signs of a mood change. She uses her expertise in bipolar disorder to show you how to avoid harmful situations during a manic episode and manage your depressive phases.

Treatments that can help patients with bipolar disorder include:


Mood stabilizers like lithium reduce the severity of manic episodes. Antidepressants stop you from getting so low when depression strikes. Some patients benefit from antipsychotic medication if they have psychosis symptoms.


Talk therapies help in several ways. You learn practical strategies from cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) that help you with daily challenges. Nola also offers interpersonal psychotherapy, which allows you to process experiences and traumas that aggravate your symptoms.

Most bipolar disorder patients get the best results from combining medication and therapy. Spravato® esketamine nasal spray helps some bipolar patients when other treatments aren’t helping.

Call Potomac Shores Mental Health and Wellness today or book an appointment online to find the best treatment combination for your bipolar disorder.