When we think of mood disorders, we think not only of depression, but also bipolar disorders. It is helpful to visualize mood as an elevator that moves up and down, with the ground floor representing “euthymia” which is a relatively stable and positive view of life. As noted under the heading, “Depression,” dysthymic and major depression represent the lower moods. With Bipolar I and Bipolar II disorders, however, the elevator rises too far upward. We call these states mania and hypomania, respectively. In these states, your energy may feel boundless, your need for sleep minimal, your desire for adventure unquenchable. With Bipolar I disorder, your thoughts may actually become detached from reality and you may put yourself at risk. During manic and hypomanic episodes it is not unusual for people to gamble excessively, engage in risky sexual behavior, make impulsive and expensive purchases, and more. If you have ever experienced this state, you know that your judgment is impaired and you can wreak havoc on your life and your relationships in an astonishingly brief period of time.
Because of the dangers involved with mania and hypomania, it is often wise to utilize both medical and psychological help to manage and, often, get to the root of these symptoms. Physicians often prescribe an anticonvulsant medication, an antipsychotic medication (to control thoughts), lithium, and/or an antidepressant, depending on the nature of your unique symptoms. Medications alone, however, simply treat the symptoms. In psychoanalytic therapy, we work to discover what may be at the root of these disruptive moods. We believe that all behavior and symptoms have meanings. It is important, I believe, that you not only control your symptoms, but that you become aware of what may trigger your symptoms and why.
Further, if you have experienced a manic or hypomanic episode or series of episodes, you may have made unfortunate choices that caused you and those you love significant pain. If so, you may struggle with guilt or shame on top of everything else. It is often quite important to build empathy toward yourself in such situations and work to restore that which has been lost or threatened.
If you have wondered if you may be dealing with a mood disorder or if you have been diagnosed with one, I would be honored to walk with you through your particular situation. We can discover together if you do or do not meet the criteria for such a diagnosis, and make plans to live with such a diagnosis. If you have already been diagnosed, I would welcome you into a type of psychotherapy that offers you the best chances to live as symptom free as possible.