What is bipolar disorder?

Bipolar disorder causes extreme changes in mood and energy levels that affect your ability to function normally. People who have bipolar disorder go through distinct phases called mood episodes, which can be manic, hypomanic, or depressive. 


There are three types of bipolar disorder – bipolar 1, bipolar 2, and cyclothymic. 

Bipolar 1 disorder

Bipolar 1 disorder is the most extreme type and causes dramatic mood changes. Manic episodes last a week or more, during which you feel full of energy and high spirited. Potential changes in behavior could include:


  • Exaggerated self-esteem 
  • Less need for sleep
  • Talking loudly and quickly
  • Easily distracted
  • Irritability
  • Doing too much at once
  • Risk-taking behaviors 
  • Racing thoughts 


These changes are apparent to people who know you, and can be so severe they disrupt your work, studies, and family life. You might get into financial difficulty because of reckless spending during a manic episode, or crash your car because you’re driving too fast.

Bipolar II disorder

Bipolar II disorder is a less severe form than bipolar I. Between episodes, people who have bipolar II disorder experience periods of feeling normal. The depressive symptoms of bipolar II disorder can be severe and are often what cause people to seek help at Gwinnett Psychiatry.

Cyclothymic disorder

Cyclothymic disorder causes frequent, fairly constant swings between hypomania and depression. Cyclothymia causes less severe symptoms than bipolar I or II.

What causes bipolar disorder?

As yet, there’s no specific, identifiable cause for bipolar disorder. Genetics is likely to play a part, as 80-90% of people with bipolar disorder have a relative who also has either bipolar or depression. Other factors that can contribute to your risk of developing bipolar disorder include: 


  • Extreme stress 
  • Sleep disruption

Bipolar typically causes noticeable mood episodes before the age of 18 but can occur in older people as well

How is bipolar disorder treated?

Bipolar disorder requires treatment individualized to each patient. Treatment from Gwinnett Psychiatry may include prescription mood stabilizers, or in some cases, anticonvulsant medications can help.

Psychotherapy is the other key treatment for bipolar disorder. Therapy helps you understand your illness better, manage the problems you have, and rebuild your relationships. 

Gwinnett Psychiatry also offers innovative treatments like transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) for patients who aren’t improving using other treatment approaches.

If you’re struggling with extreme mood swings, or your current bipolar disorder treatment isn’t improving your quality of life, call us today.


of U.S. adults had bipolar disorder in the past year.


Past year prevalence of bipolar disorder among adults was similar for males


of U.S. adults experience bipolar disorder at some time in their lives



Some of the conditions we treat