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Bipolar disorders affect approximately 4.4% of American adults at some point in their lives, with an estimated 2.8% experiencing symptoms of bipolar disorder in any given year, according to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). Bipolar disorders most commonly manifest in young adulthood, and they affect men and women nearly equally. These disorders currently do not have a single clear cause. Depending on the severity of an individual’s symptoms, bipolar disorders can be difficult to diagnose — often, signs of bipolar disorder will develop gradually and change over the course of many years, leading an individual to ignore their concerns or ascribe them to something else.

Bipolar disorders of all types can be problematic enough to prevent an individual from leading a normal and fulfilling life. When symptoms arise, it becomes difficult or impossible for an individual to predict their moods or energy levels. Everyday activities and responsibilities may be forgotten or abandoned, and behavior may become reckless or increasingly erratic. Without a diagnosis or a plan of action to manage symptoms, an individual may struggle for years to understand why they aren’t able to stay in control of their feelings and behaviors.

At The Guest House in Ocala, Florida, we understand the challenges of living with bipolar disorder and provide deeply personalized, holistic care in a serene environment to help individuals manage their symptoms and lead more fulfilling lives. There are, fortunately, many ways of coping with bipolar disorders of all types — but first, you must take the step of asking for help to identify your concerns and get the treatment that’s right for you.

What Is Bipolar Disorder?

Bipolar disorder is a mental health condition characterized by unpredictable, sometimes drastic shifts in mood, energy or activity levels. It is also called manic-depressive disorder or manic depression, because bipolar mood swings are known as manic or depressive episodes.

Depending on the type of bipolar disorder an individual has, these episodes can last days, weeks, months or even years, and can be very sudden or intense and cycle rapidly or slowly. Manic episodes include symptoms such as high energy, erratic behavior, attention and concentration problems and extreme positivity or elation; while depressive episodes bring lethargy or exhaustion, sadness, forgetfulness, hopelessness and a lack of motivation.

Signs of bipolar disorder are often noticed by friends or family members rather than by the individuals experiencing them. From within, it’s difficult to view your moods or behaviors objectively; you simply feel how you feel, and even if you have a sense that your moods are different than they should be, it can be hard to put a finger on why. If you or a loved one is living with bipolar disorder, we encourage you to seek help as soon as possible. Untreated mood swings can have a significant impact on daily life and may worsen over time, but treatment can provide the support, hope and encouragement you need to build a healthier, happier life.

Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder consists of four main types of episodes — mania, hypomania, depression and mixed episodes — each of which is characterized by a different set of core symptoms.


Mania describes an unstable, euphoric mood accompanied by excess energy levels, distorted speech or thought patterns and sleeplessness. People experiencing mania often feel like they’re on top of the world and can accomplish anything, but this comes at the expense of their general health and well-being. Other signs of mania include:

  • Abnormally high energy levels
  • Unexplained excitement or euphoria
  • Racing thoughts
  • Being more talkative than usual
  • Decreased need for sleep
  • Reckless and impulsive behavior
  • Increased irritability
  • Feeling invincible
  • New obsessions
  • Delusions and hallucinations

In some cases, mania can trigger a break from reality, known as psychosis. When these symptoms cause extreme or dangerous behavior, they often require hospitalization. However, if caught early enough, manic episodes can be managed without emergency care.


Hypomania includes many of the same symptoms of mania, but they tend to be milder. While people experiencing hypomania still notice changes in their mood and energy levels during an episode, they are often able to perform most, if not all, of their normal responsibilities. Hallucinations and delusions typically do not occur with hypomania, and it is less likely to require hospitalization. Episodes are also generally shorter, lasting for days instead of weeks.


Bipolar disorder can also cause emotional lows, known as depressive episodes. During a depressive episode, people with bipolar disorder experience generalized sadness and despair, along with many other symptoms commonly seen in clinical depression, such as:

  • Persistently sad or “empty” mood
  • Fatigue and low energy
  • Loss of interest in activities
  • Changes in appetite
  • Muscle aches
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Feelings of guilt or worthlessness
  • Suicidal thoughts

Individuals with bipolar disorder type I may or may not experience symptoms of depression after a manic episode, but depression is always a feature of bipolar disorder type II.

Mixed Episodes

People living with bipolar disorder may also experience mixed episodes, where features of mania or hypomania and depression are both present. They may have a persistently low mood, for example, while at the same time feel agitated or restless. Mixed episodes are often described as “the worst part of bipolar disorder.” The stress and difficulty of dealing with a mixed episode may lead some to self-medicate with drugs or alcohol, which provide temporary relief but leave the underlying disorder untreated and make symptoms more challenging to manage.

Other Features of Bipolar Disorder

Beyond the primary symptoms associated with bipolar disorder, there are other features that can affect an individual’s quality of life and ability to function. These may include cognitive impairments, anxious distress, psychosis and more. Symptoms may cycle rapidly, and some people experience episodes at the same time each year in relation to the seasons.

Types of Bipolar Disorder

There are two main types of bipolar disorder — bipolar disorder type I and type II — and while they present differently depending on the person, both follow similar patterns that alternate between emotional highs and lows. Cyclothymia and specified or unspecified bipolar disorder are also classified as forms of bipolar disorder. Understanding the nuances of bipolar disorders can help distinguish them from major depression, which they might be misdiagnosed as.

Bipolar Disorder and Underlying Causes

The symptoms of bipolar disorder can be triggered or exacerbated by external pressures such as difficult life events or substance use. Scientists have identified brain structure and function as one of the main risk factors for bipolar disorder; experiencing something — like a traumatic incident or extreme stress — that alters the way your brain reacts to everyday stimuli could play a part in bipolar symptoms. Research also shows that bipolar disorder and substance use, in particular, often go hand in hand — among other reports over the years, a 2006 study in the Journal of Clinical Psychology estimates that up to 70% of those who meet diagnostic criteria for any bipolar disorder have also used drugs and/or alcohol. While turning to drugs or alcohol may happen in an attempt to self-medicate against bipolar disorder, the mind-altering effects of psychoactive substances will only serve to worsen symptoms in the long run.

If you or your loved one is dealing with bipolar disorder or manic-depressive episodes, it’s important to seek treatment with professionals who are trained to help address more than just the symptoms of a mental health disorder. There are many options available that will help with bipolar disorder as well as any accompanying concerns or underlying causes. This kind of treatment can ensure that you can find ways to manage the symptoms of the disorder and prevent them from getting worse again.

Treating and Managing Bipolar Disorder at The Guest House

The Guest House is dedicated to providing the kind of holistic healing that allows individuals to find lasting recovery from mental health concerns or substance use. While conditions like bipolar disorder or addiction are chronic illnesses that don’t truly have a cure, it is possible for people to learn how to manage their symptoms and improve their overall quality of life.

Our programs utilize evidence-based practices and holistic therapies within an individualized treatment model. We work closely with clients to identify their unique needs and concerns and develop a treatment plan that resonates with them. We know there’s more than one way to heal from addiction and mental health concerns, so we equip each person with the tools, resources and knowledge they need to achieve and maintain a balanced, healthy lifestyle.

Some of the holistic and evidence-based modalities we utilize include:

It is our goal to help you get in control of your bipolar disorder and to learn the best techniques to cope with your symptoms as you regain your independence. Whether you are just discovering your diagnosis or you have been trying to find methods that work for you for some time, The Guest House is here to help. Our expert team of licensed counselors, certified therapists and experienced support staff will be here to welcome you as you take the next step on your journey of healing.