What is Bipolar Disorder?

Bipolar Disorder is most commonly characterized by shifts in mood, energy and activity levels, across a wide range of extremes. These “up” and “down” moods range from manic, high-energy periods to depressive despondent episodes.

The National Institute of Mental Health states that about 4.4% of adults in the United States have dealt with Bipolar Disorder at one time or another. Those who do can have a hard time dealing with everyday life, and run into difficulties with even routine tasks. Despite millions of people experiencing this condition, many are not aware of what can be done to treat this disorder.

There are several different types of Bipolar Disorder.

    • Bipolar I Disorder
      • Episodes—both manic and depressive—can last for over a week, and often require medical treatment from a professional. In some cases, these symptoms are concurrent and persistent.
    • Bipolar II Disorder
      • Periods of mania and depression are less extreme with this type, but still cause inconveniences and difficulty with day-to-day tasks. Though not usually requiring hospitalization, medical treatment is usually beneficial.
    • Cyclothymic Disorder
      • This kind of Bipolar disorder is often considered less severe than Bipolar I and Bipolar II, but has the potential to develop into more advanced forms of the condition.
    • Unspecified Bipolar Disorder
      • This covers those symptoms that fall within the spectrum of Bipolar Disorder, but doesn’t meet all of the criteria of the other forms.

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How Is Bipolar Disorder Treated?

Talk Therapy

Talk therapy can help someone suffering from Bipolar Disorder. Having a conversation with a trained therapist can bring a sense of support to someone who might feel like their situation is too chaotic. This kind of therapy is also great for providing options and further resources for treatment and support, such as education and help for families.


Because each case of Bipolar Disorder presents differently for each unique person, there are a variety of treatments used. Depending on the specific case at hand, different medications can be recommended. In most cases, medicines like antidepressants and mood stabilizers are prescribed to help control the symptoms.

While these may be effective methods for many people, there are still those who do not experience true relief.

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Why Do Talk Therapy and Medication Fail?

According to the Lehigh Center for Clinical Research, “Effective treatment plans for Bipolar disorder include a combination of medication, therapy and lifestyle changes aimed at stabilizing mood and lessening the dramatic shifts between manic and depressive symptoms.” However, these treatments might not work for everyone. When these methods do not produce the expected results, it can be discouraging for the person dealing with the disorder.

Some may deal with serious adverse side effects from medication. These can include nausea, hair loss, weight gain, sexual dysfunction, and more. These symptoms can vary in severity, and in some cases, can become a real problem for the person taking them. If someone is constantly dealing with the side effects of medication that are supposed to improve their lives, it can be frustrating and disheartening.

Sometimes, these medicines do not produce results for patients. Why these medications are not effective can be a wide range of causes. Personal internal body chemistry is a big reason that stands in the way. Other reasons include a lack of consistency in taking their medication and abuse of medications outside of those prescribed.

On the other hand, some people dealing with bipolar disorder may not be able to find the right therapist for them. This can be from a conflicting personality, life experience, level of expectation or another issue. For some individuals, talk therapy just isn’t an effective means of treatment.

If these are the only two options presented to someone, they may not realize that there are other treatments available.

“If these are the only two options presented to someone, they may not realize that there are other treatments available.”

Alternative Treatments for Bipolar Disorder

Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS)

One method of tackling Bipolar Disorder is the use of transcranial magnetic stimulation, or TMS for short. TMS is a noninvasive, non-drug therapy technique utilizing magnetic waves in pulses to specific parts of the brain associated with disorders such as those within the bipolar spectrum.

When the TMS machine generates a small electrical current within a patient’s brain, this can activate parts of the brain that can combat certain negative aspects of bipolar disorder. Over time, repetitive treatments, known as maintenance therapy have shown great results for those dealing with the disorder. When other forms of therapy such as medication and talk therapy don’t quite measure up and do not produce the necessary results, TMS can help. In most cases, people who utilize this form of therapy do see noted improvements with very minimal negative side effects.

TMS Center of the Lehigh Valley is the Allentown area’s premiere provider of TMS therapy for Bipolar Disorder.

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