Bipolar disorder is a mental health condition that affects millions of people worldwide. Despite its prevalence, there are still many misconceptions and questions surrounding this disorder. In this article, we will answer some of the most common questions about bipolar disorder to help you better understand this condition.

What is Bipolar Disorder?

Bipolar disorder is a mental health condition that causes extreme shifts in mood, energy and activity levels. These shifts can range from manic episodes, where a person experiences intense euphoria and high energy, to depressive episodes, where a person feels extremely sad and low-energy. These episodes can last for days, weeks or even months.

What causes bipolar disorder?

The exact cause of bipolar disorder is still unknown, but research suggests that it is a combination of genetic, environmental and neurochemical factors. Studies have shown that people with a family history of bipolar disorder are more likely to develop the condition. Additionally, imbalances in certain brain chemicals, such as serotonin and dopamine, may also play a role in the development of bipolar disorder.

What is the Difference Between Bipolar I and Bipolar II?

Bipolar I and bipolar II are two subtypes of bipolar disorder. The main difference between the two is the severity of the manic episodes. In bipolar I, a person experiences full-blown manic episodes, while in bipolar II, a person experiences hypomanic episodes, which are less severe than manic episodes.

How long do bipolar episodes last?

The duration of bipolar episodes can vary from person to person. In general, manic episodes can last for a week or more, while depressive episodes can last for several weeks or months. However, some people may experience shorter or longer episodes.

Is Bipolar Disorder Genetic?

Research has shown that bipolar disorder has a strong genetic component. According to the National Library of Medicine, genetic factors account for about 60% to 80% of the cause of bipolar disorder. This does not mean that any person with a genetic history of bipolar is 60% to 80% likely to inherit the condition; however, it means that in instances that the condition was inherited, the genetic prevalence of the disorder in the family was a significant factor. 

This percentage accounts for extended and close relatives, meaning that if you have a parent with bipolar disorder, your chances are likely to increase, whereas if they are more removed, like an aunt or uncle, your chances will be lower. 

How a person with bipolar disorder thinks

People with bipolar disorder may experience racing thoughts, where their mind is constantly jumping from one idea to another. They may also have difficulty concentrating and making decisions. During manic episodes, a person may have grandiose thoughts and believe they have special powers or abilities. In contrast, during depressive episodes, a person may have negative and self-critical thoughts.

What Are the Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder?

The symptoms of bipolar disorder can vary depending on the type and severity of the episode. Some common symptoms of manic episodes include:

  • Feeling extremely happy or euphoric
  • Having racing thoughts and difficulty concentrating
  • Engaging in risky behaviors, such as excessive spending or substance abuse
  • Talking quickly and jumping from one topic to another
  • Feeling irritable or agitated

On the other hand, some common symptoms of depressive episodes include:

  • Feeling sad, hopeless or empty
  • Losing interest in activities once enjoyed
  • Changes in appetite and sleep patterns
  • Difficulty concentrating and making decisions
  • Thoughts of death or suicide

How to Treat Bipolar Disorder?

Bipolar disorder is a chronic condition that requires long-term management. Treatment typically involves a combination of medication, therapy and lifestyle changes.


Medication is often the first line of treatment for bipolar disorder. Mood stabilizers, such as lithium and valproate, are commonly prescribed to help regulate mood swings. Antidepressants may also be prescribed to help manage depressive episodes. In some cases, antipsychotic medications may be used to treat severe manic episodes.


Therapy, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and psychoeducation, can help people with bipolar disorder better understand their condition and learn coping strategies to manage their symptoms. Therapy can also help improve communication and relationships with loved ones.

Lifestyle changes

Making lifestyle changes, such as getting regular exercise, eating a healthy diet and getting enough sleep, can also help manage bipolar disorder symptoms. Avoiding drugs and alcohol is also crucial, as they can worsen symptoms and interfere with medication.

Getting any mental health diagnosis can feel life altering. At Old Vineyard, we strive to provide the resources and programming that you need to navigate this turbulent time. Call us today at 855-602-5920 to learn more about our available inpatient and outpatient programming, or schedule an assessment online to see how we can help you manage your bipolar.

If you are having a medical emergency, please call 911. If you are having a mental health emergency, please call 988 for immediate crisis intervention.

Old Vineyard Behavioral Health Services

Old Vineyard Behavioral Health Services is a treatment center that provides compassionate inpatient and outpatient treatment to help those achieve meaningful mental health and wellness. We treat a variety of behavioral health disorders including trauma, depression, mood disorders and more.

Our team of dedicated staff pride themselves on creating a safe and welcoming environment for all of our patients and their loved ones. Some of our services include our treatment, specialty and outpatient programs. Located in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, we provide a beautiful, campus-like atmosphere.

To schedule a consultation with us or for more information, please call 855-602-5920.