What are Bipolar Disorders?

Bipolar disorders cause unusual or unexplained shifts in mood, activity level and energy that impact a person’s ability to interact and function in day-to-day life. These shifts often make it difficult for a person to perform at work or at school and can prevent them from building healthy relationships with others.

Bipolar disorders often emerge around the age of 25, but they can affect people at varying points in their life. Bipolar episodes are characterized by cycles of mania and depression. Manic episodes and depressive episodes may vary in length and severity. During an episode, it’s obvious that the affected person is not behaving normally and having more than a mild mood swing. Symptoms may appear to mimic other mental illnesses, such as depression or anxiety, but upon closer review, the symptoms appear in cycles.


Bipolar disorders are characterized by intense emotional states that occur in cycles. These emotional states are often called “episodes” and a person generally experiences two types of episodes: mania, where they are extremely energetic and overly excited, and depression, where they may feel hopeless and extremely down. During both types of episodes a person may exhibit:

  • Changes in energy or activity level
  • Changes in sleep pattern, or insomnia
  • Changes in behavior, such as becoming impulsive or difficulty making decisions

The signs and symptoms of bipolar disorders change depending on the severity of a disorder and the affected individual’s situation. Mood swings may not be recognized as bipolar disorder, but can be distinguished from normal changes in mood by the impact they have on an affected individual’s life. The signs and symptoms of bipolar disorder often cause behavioral problems that cause poor or inconsistent performance at school, work or in relationships.


Bipolar disorder treatment will help your loved one manage episodes of mania or depression and regain control of their life. There is no cure for bipolar disorder; it is a lifelong illness, but proper management of the disorder and its symptoms can prevent relapse, reduce severity of symptoms and give an individual the opportunity for a healthy, productive life. Without treatment, bipolar disorder can worsen and episodes of mania and depression may become more frequent and more severe.

Bipolar disorder treatment at the Sylvia Brafman Mental Health Center includes medication and psychotherapy (counseling). We take a holistic approach to mental health treatment, aiming to improve an individual’s quality of life for the long-term. This means addressing underlying psychological, biological and social concerns to help an individual reduce their risk for relapse. We provide individual therapy, group therapy and family therapy, and work with our clients to create a comprehensive treatment plan that gives them optimal support for recovery.