What Is Bipolar Disorder and How Is It Treated?

Bipolar is a type of mood disorder that can be treated. Watch Sue Varma, MD, explain this mental health condition, different treatments and how people with bipolar disorder can lead enriching lives.

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Hi, Dr. Varma. As someone with bipolar disorder, I feel like the public doesn't have a great understanding
of the disorder. So what exactly is bipolar disorder, and how can it be treated?
Such a great question. So bipolar disorder is a type of mood disorder where we see both manic episodes, which
are very high highs that can interfere with a person's functioning. So they might have a lot of ideas and creativity,
but he keeps them up late at night. And they can't get normal day-to-day stuff done. And the lows are extremely low.
They're very depressed. They can't get out of bed. They feel that everything takes a lot of energy out of them.
So basically, you have these two mood extremes. And at the same time, you have difficulty functioning. [INSTRUMENTAL MUSIC]
So when we talk about bipolar disorder treatment options, it's important to keep in mind that medication will definitely
be a part of it. Within the medication categories, there's the antiepileptics. There's mood stabilizers, antipsychotics,
anticonvulsants, benzodiazepine. There are a variety of medications that are available that are quite effective. So really, it depends on the individual.
The doctor has to very carefully look at the treatment approach based on who they're dealing with and what they're looking for. Having said that, medications being an important part,
I'm also a big believer in psychotherapy. Psychotherapy makes lasting changes in the brain. We have found that areas in the brain that are pertaining
to fear-- the hippocampus, the amygdala-- that these areas really are able to shrink.
So that sort of the anxious fear response that we see in depression, that we see in mania is able to decrease. Once bipolar disorder is diagnosed
and people are able to get treatment, I want to assure you that people can lead very fulfilling, productive,
and enriching lives. [THEME MUSIC]

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