Understanding Bipolar Affective Disorder: Symptoms and Treatment

Bipolar affective disorder (BPD), also known as manic depression, is a mental health condition that impacts approximately 5.7 million American adults every year. This condition is characterized by extreme shifts in mood, energy levels, and behavior, and can be quite challenging to manage. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the symptoms of bipolar affective disorder, as well as the most effective treatments currently available.

Symptoms of Bipolar Affective Disorder

Bipolar affective disorder is a condition that is most commonly diagnosed in individuals during their late teens or early adulthood. The main symptoms of BPD include episodes of mania and depression, and the severity and length of these episodes can vary from person to person.

During a manic episode, individuals with BPD typically experience a range of symptoms, including:

– Elevated or irritable mood
– Increased energy or restlessness
– Grandiose or inflated self-esteem
– Racing thoughts or difficulty focusing
– Decreased need for sleep
– Reckless behavior or poor judgement

Conversely, during a depressive episode, individuals with BPD may experience:

– Low mood or sadness
– Loss of energy or motivation
– Difficulties with concentration and memory
– Changes in appetite or sleep patterns
– Feelings of worthlessness or guilt
– Suicidal thoughts or behavior

It’s important to note that not all individuals with BPD will experience both manic and depressive episodes. In some cases, individuals may only experience one type of episode, or may experience mild symptoms that are not severe enough to be classified as a full episode.

Treatment for Bipolar Affective Disorder

While there is currently no cure for bipolar affective disorder, there are a variety of treatments available that can help individuals manage their symptoms and improve their quality of life. The most common treatments for BPD include medication, therapy, and lifestyle changes.


Medication is often the first line of treatment for individuals with BPD. Mood stabilizers, such as lithium or valproic acid, are typically used to help manage manic episodes, while antidepressants may be used to help manage depressive episodes. In addition, antipsychotic medications may be prescribed to help manage symptoms during severe manic episodes.


Talk therapy, such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) or dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), can be an effective way to help individuals with BPD manage their symptoms and improve their overall quality of life. CBT helps individuals identify negative patterns of thinking and behavior and replace them with more positive ones, while DBT focuses on developing coping skills and emotional regulation.

Lifestyle Changes

There are a variety of lifestyle changes that can help individuals with BPD manage their symptoms and improve their overall health and wellbeing. These may include getting regular exercise, eating a healthy and balanced diet, getting enough sleep, practicing relaxation techniques such as yoga or meditation, and avoiding alcohol and drugs.

The Bottom Line

Bipolar affective disorder is a challenging condition that can be difficult to manage. However, with the right treatment approach, individuals with BPD can learn to manage their symptoms and improve their quality of life. If you think you or a loved one may be struggling with bipolar affective disorder, it’s important to seek help from a mental health professional. With the right treatment and support, it’s possible to live a happy and fulfilling life with BPD.

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