Bipolar Disorder Therapy NYC
“One of the things so bad about bipolar disorder is that if you don't have prior awareness, you don't have any idea what hit you.”
What is bipolar disorder?
Bipolar disorder is a mental health condition affecting approximately 1% of the population, with rates similar between men and women. Bipolar disorder is characterized by moderate to extreme mood symptoms, including mania and depression, which can last from days to weeks.
Generally, bipolar develops at the age of late teens to 20s, and rarely begins after age 40. For many, it is a lifelong condition.
Bipolar disorder is linked to a number of specific genes. A person has a seven-fold increased risk for bipolar disorder given a first-degree relative with bipolar disorder. There is a 60% chance of having bipolar disorder given a twin with it. Other environmental factors include trauma (e.g. loss of parent in early life) or loss of spouse (due to death or separation).
Diagnosing bipolar disorder
To be diagnosed with bipolar disorder, a person must have a mania episode. Mania episodes tend to be brought on by a lack of sleep, certain substance use, and seasonal variations in daylight.
Mania episodes are characterized by:
- Having difficulty sleeping. People in a manic episode have excessive amounts of energy and just don’t feel like they need to sleep. They have grandiose ideas they want to pursue (e.g. writing a new translation of an ancient biblical text, yet not having the skills to do that).
- Being easily agitated, irritated.
- Sometimes, hallucinations (similar to that of schizophrenia).
- Doing risky things: reckless sex, driving, gambling.
People with bipolar disorder are more likely to spend more time in depressive episodes than manic episodes.
Depressive episodes are characterized by:
- Having trouble concentrating, forgetting easily
- Having suicidal thoughts
- Losing interest in otherwise enjoyable activities
- Having difficulty sleeping
Differentiating bipolar disorder and other similar conditions
For one, bipolar disorder can look like personality differences, such as borderline personality disorder (BPD). People with BPD have similar fluctuations in mood; however, these changes are not episodic, and happen continuously day to day. For bipolar disorder, mood episodes are distinct.
Bipolar disorder may also look like depression—as both have depressive episodes with the same symptoms. However, major depression does not include manic episodes.
Schizophrenia has overlapping genetic factors with bipolar disorder, but schizophrenia is primarily characterized by a loss of touch with reality. Manic episodes of bipolar disorder are characterized more as an extreme mood change.
Finally, mood episodes can also lead to substance misuse, including of alcohol or other drugs. It’s important to distinguish substance misuse as a consequence of bipolar disorder, rather than substance misuse as a standalone problem.
What does treatment look like for bipolar disorder?
Typical bipolar disorder treatment involves a combination of psychotherapy and psychosocial intervention. Patients are trained to manage sleep and reduce triggers for manic and depressive episodes. Bipolar disorder treatment almost always requires a pharmacological intervention, which is often lifelong. In some cases where bipolar disorder is diagnosed early and treated aggressively, some individuals may not need lifelong treatment.
Unfortunately, there is currently no true cure for bipolar disorder; treatment can only help control symptoms. It’s important that treatment is ongoing, rather than on/off, even if symptoms seem controlled.
Regarding medication, there are many types available, depending on whether manic and/or depressive symptoms are present. Mood stabilizers (e.g. lithium) are used to treat mania, while antidepressants are used to treat depressive episodes. Sleep medications can also be prescribed to aid sleep.
Importantly, medication side effects should be considered. For example, antidepressants have the potential to trigger a manic episode, so mood stabilizers can be prescribed along.
Talk / psychotherapy can be another part of treatment. Therapy can train patients to identify triggers that may lead to mood episodes. Therapy can also help improve a patient’s ability to manage their daily life, including work and relationships.
Work with an NYC bipolar disorder therapist at Integrative Psych
Integrative Psych is an NYC-based private practice specializing in the treatment of bipolar disorder and other mood disorders. Many of our clients are based in Brooklyn, Queens, New Jersey, Manhattan (Chelsea, Village, Lower East Side, Upper East Side, Upper West Side, Tribeca, SoHo), Connecticut, Westchester but our bipolar disorder therapists are licensed to treat anyone in the state of New York.
Integrative Psych takes a compassionate, comprehensive and holistic approach to bipolar disorder diagnosis and treatment. We will carefully explore all factors that could be contributing to your bipolar disorder.
When making recommendations, treatment may involve tailored medication and likely include a blend of therapy, depending on what works best for you.
Decisions about what treatment or treatments to pursue are made as a team, between you and your therapist. Once you have begun care with us, we will see you regularly to monitor your progress and make any adjustments necessary to ensure that you benefit fully from your treatment at Integrative Psych.
If you’re seeking treatment and interested in working with one of our bipolar disorder therapists, book an appointment here.