Can bipolar disorder be cured? In today’s post, we discuss the symptoms, prevalence, and effects of this mental health concern, as well as how treatment can help people live healthier and more satisfying lives.
What Is Bipolar Disorder?
Before we address the question, can bipolar disorder be cured, let’s take a moment to discuss what this disorder is and how many people it affects.
Bipolar disorder is a mental health condition that is characterized by extreme and unpredictable changes in mood, attitude, behavior patterns, and energy level.
There are actually three types of bipolar disorder: bipolar I disorder, bipolar II disorder, and cyclothymic disorder. These variations are differentiated by the type and severity of symptoms that a person experiences. We will describe these symptoms, and clarify how they determine which type of bipolar disorder a person has, in the next section.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), about 2.8% of adults aged 18 and above in the United States experienced symptoms of bipolar disorder in the previous 12 months. The NIMH also reported that the lifetime prevalence of bipolar disorder among U.S. adults is 4.4%.
With a current population of about 258 million adults in the U.S., this means that about seven million adults had bipolar disorder in the last year, and about eleven million will develop the disorder at some point in their lives.
NIMH data also indicates that more than 80% of adults with bipolar disorder experience severe impairment as scored on the Sheehan Disability Scale.
What Are the Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder?
The symptoms of bipolar disorder fall into the following three categories:
- Manic episodes are periods of at least one week when a person has abundant energy, racing thoughts, a propensity for talkativeness, and little to no apparent need for sleep. During a manic episode, a person may exhibit elevated self-confidence to the point of grandiosity. They may also act impulsively and excessively in potentially dangers areas such as driving, gambling, sex, and eating.
- Hypomanic episodes are similar to manic episodes, but they do not last as long. According to the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), symptoms of a hypomanic episode will occur most of the time for a period of four consecutive days.
- Major depressive episodes are periods of at least two weeks when a person experiences symptoms such as deep sadness, lack of energy and motivation, poor self-esteem, disrupted sleep patterns (either insomnia or hypersomnia), significant changes in appetite, and recurrent thoughts of death and dying.
To be diagnosed with bipolar I disorder, a person must have at least one manic episode. They may also have periods of hypomania and/or major depression, but these are not required for this diagnosis.
A person who has bipolar II disorder will have at least one hypomanic episode and at least one major depressive episode.
Someone who has cyclothymic disorder will experience hypomanic symptoms that do not meet the criteria for a full hypomanic episode and times of major depression that are not enough to qualify as a major depressive episode. They will experience these symptoms on and off for a period of at least two years.
Can Bipolar Disorder Be Cured?
Bipolar disorder is a chronic mental health condition. This means that in the vast majority of cases, the answer to the question, “Can bipolar disorder be cured?” is no.
However, this does not mean that someone who develops bipolar disorder cannot be helped. As is the case with many chronic physical and mental health conditions, the symptoms of bipolar disorder can be eased with treatment.
The general goal of bipolar disorder is to minimize the negative impact that the symptoms of this condition can have on a person’s life. Medication can help achieve this objective, as can education and therapy to help people learn how to manage their symptoms.
If you or someone you care about has been struggling with bipolar disorder, please do not be dissuaded by the fact that this condition is not likely to be cured. Instead, focus on the many ways that effective treatment can improve both the substance and quality of your or your loved one’s life.
How Is Bipolar Disorder Treated?
As we alluded to in the previous section, bipolar disorder is typically treated with a combination of medication, education, and therapy.
The type of medication that a person receives will depend on what type of bipolar disorder they have (and thus what type or types of symptoms they have been experiencing).
For people who struggle with disruptive manic or hypomanic symptoms, mood stabilizers and/or antipsychotic medications may be most effective. For those who have symptoms of major depression, antidepressants and/or anti-anxiety medications may be called for.
The educational and therapeutic components of treatment for bipolar disorder can help in the following ways:
- Teaching patients about the disease of bipolar disorder and introducing them to symptom-management strategies
- Helping people develop stress- and anger-management capabilities, which may preclude the onset of symptoms or minimize their intensity
- Identifying negative thought and behavior patterns, and replacing them with healthier ways of thinking and acting
- Incorporating self-care practices into the individual’s daily life
- Developing an effective personal support network, which can increase the likelihood that the individual will continue to take their medication and implement the symptom-management skills and practices that they learned while in treatment.
Begin Treatment for Bipolar Disorder in Atlanta, GA
Peachtree Wellness Solutions offers multiple levels of customized services for adults who have bipolar disorder and certain co-occurring mental health concerns.
Care options at our bipolar disorder treatment center in Atlanta include residential, partial hospitalization, and intensive outpatient programs. At every level, every patient can expect to receive superior personalized care from a team of skilled and compassionate individuals. To learn more or to schedule a free assessment, please visit our admissions page or call us today.