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What Does a Bipolar Specialist Do?

Nancy MacGregor MA, ATR-BC, LPC, ACS, Clinical Director

A psychiatrist is a medical doctor who specializes in diagnosing and treating a variety of mental health disorders. A bipolar specialist is a psychiatrist who chooses to focus on the diagnosis and treatment of bipolar disorders (aka bipolar affective disorder or manic depression). To become a bipolar specialist, the psychiatrist must complete additional training that concentrates on the diagnosis and treatment of bipolar disorders.

What Causes Bipolar Disorders?

A chemical imbalance in the brain causes bipolar disorders. These conditions usually have a genetic component. Therefore, if someone else in the patient’s biological family has a bipolar disorder, his or her likelihood of developing this mental health disorder increases. Bipolar disorders are incurable; nonetheless, with proper treatment from an experienced bipolar specialist, patients can learn how to manage the symptoms associated with this mental health disorder.

Diagnosing Bipolar Disorders

There are three different diagnoses categorized as Bipolar Disorders: Bipolar I, Bipolar II and Cyclothymic Disorder.

1. Bipolar I

This manic-depressive disorder is able to exist with or without psychotic experiences (aka psychotic episodes). A psychotic episode refers to an individual interpreting or perceiving reality differently than everyone else. When an individual experiences extreme mood shifts, they can last for quite some time and an individual’s daily functions may be inhibited.

2. Bipolar II

An individual with this disorder experiences manic and depressive episodes. These episodes alternate back and forth. These episodes are less severe than Bipolar I and a patient’s everyday functioning is not inhibited.

3. Cyclothymic Disorder

This is a cyclic disorder resulting in brief episodes of depression and hypomania.

Recognizing Bipolar Disorders

People with this disorder experience extreme fluctuations in energy, mood and the ability to function.

Symptoms of Depression

Severe depression typically manifests itself following a manic episode.

An individual with depression may:

  • Feel empty inside.
  • Have difficulty finding motivation to do even the simplest of things.
  • Sleep very little.
  • May have suicidal ideation (i.e., considering/thinking about suicide).

Symptoms of Mania

While in the throes of a manic episode, patients may feel energetic, somewhat aggravated or euphoric. Due to a lack of clarity in the individual’s behavior and thought, the patient may experience work-related issues and problems in his or her personal relationships.

A Consultation with a Bipolar Specialist: What to Expect

The psychiatrist needs to know about the patient’s feelings and his or her behavior patterns. In addition, patients may be asked to complete a questionnaire or a psychological self-assessment form.

Medical Information

The patient can help the bipolar specialist find his or her best treatment sooner by providing an accurate account of previous surgeries, health issues, therapies and chronic conditions (e.g., diabetes, hypertension). In addition, patients need to provide a list of their current medications (i.e., over-the-counter and prescription), vitamins and herbal supplements. Furthermore, it is vital that patients are candid with their bipolar specialist about their recreational drug use and alcohol consumption.

Interviewing Friends and Family

As long as the patient approves, the psychiatrist interviews his or her close friends and family members. The goal of these interviews is to obtain as much information as possible about the symptoms the patient was experiencing prior to seeking treatment.

Mood Charting

The bipolar specialist may request that the patient keep track of his or her mood changes throughout the day, as well as any changes in sleep patterns.

Treating Bipolar Disorders

Primary treatments utilized for bipolar disorders include psychotherapy (aka psychological counseling) and medication. Psychotherapy assists with controlling the symptoms associated with Bipolar Disorders. Medications help balance the patient’s mood.

Supplementary treatments may include support group participation, day treatment programs and educational opportunities to assist patients with managing their symptoms.

Hospitalization may be recommended for a patient if he or she is feeling suicidal, behaving dangerously or experiencing a psychotic episode.

Substance abuse treatment is available for those who need it.

Bipolar Disorder Help with Harmony Bay Wellness

If you believe that you or a loved one may have a bipolar disorder, just perform a search for a bipolar specialist near me or a bipolar therapist near me to find help. If you are in New Jersey or the surrounding area, Harmony Bay Wellness has experienced, caring and dedicated bipolar specialists available. To schedule an appointment, call 855-765-6399.

Treatment with Harmony Bay

Harmony Bay is an outpatient behavioral health service that offers primary mental health treatment for a variety of mental health disorders. Our mission is to make mental health care convenient and affordable while providing an unmatched experience to our clients. contact us today by calling 855.765.6399.