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Counselling for Bipolar Disorder

Do you experience extreme shifts in your mood, energy, and behaviours? We can help.

It’s common to experience ups and downs in your mood. Feeling a range of emotions is normal. However, when these mood changes become extreme and negatively impact your life, it may be a sign of something more serious. 

 

Bipolar disorder is a type of mood disorder characterized by extreme shifts in mood. The mood swings often have nothing to do with what is going on in a person’s life, and they affect thoughts, behaviour, and functioning. 


Many people try to manage the symptoms of bipolar disorder alone without seeking help. If you think you might have bipolar disorder, book a consultation with one of our mental health specialists who can help you better manage and overcome this condition.

 

What Does Bipolar Disorder Feel Like?

Bipolar disorder is episodic, meaning it is recurring. There are three phases of bipolar disorder:

  • Mania- a “high” state marked by extreme energy

  • Depression- a “low” state marked by depressed mood

  • A well state, marked by no significant symptoms

 

The episodes may consist of purely mania or depression, or they may be mixed episodes with characteristics of both mania and depression. Mixed states can be confusing and hard to diagnose because they contain elements of “highs” and “lows”. . 

 

The episodes are generally unpredictable and may occur in any order. Some people experience “rapid cycling” with four or more episodes a year. 

 

Bipolar disorder can be mild, moderate, or severe and the individual’s experience with the condition is uniquely personal. When depressed, it may feel impossible to go on, and when in a state of mania, you may feel on top of the world. 

 

Symptoms of mania or hypomania 

Symptoms last at least a week and may include:

  • Abnormally elevated or irritable mood 

  • Persistent goal-directed behaviour or energy

  • Impaired judgement 

  • Inflated self-esteem

  • Decreased need for sleep and feeling rested with little or no sleep

  • Extremely talkative

  • Flight of ideas or racing thoughts

  • Distractibility 

  • Engaging in risky behaviour or activities with negative consequences (i.e., spending spree)

  • Increased libido

Symptoms of depression

Symptoms last at least a week and may include:

  • Feeling down or sad for most of the day every day

  • Loss of interest or pleasure 

  • Irritability or agitation 

  • Difficulties with sleeping

  • Changes in appetite

  • Fatigue or lack of energy

  • Poor concentration

  • Feelings of guilt or low self-worth

  • Thoughts of wanting to die or disappear

 

Some people experiencing a bipolar episode may have changes in movement, which may be a slowing down in movement or appearing extremely restless and sped up. 

 

Many people experiencing a manic episode may engage in risky behaviour, substance abuse, or spending sprees that can have devastating consequences on their personal lives.

Will Bipolar Disorder Go Away if I Don’t Seek Help?

Bipolar can be complicated because people may go for long periods without symptoms. The impact of manic episodes may also be difficult to acknowledge as the nature of mania can cloud your judgement. However, bipolar disorder is often chronic and unlikely to subside without intervention. Therapy can help you learn how to manage your symptoms of bipolar disorder and find stability. The sooner bipolar disorder is treated, the better the outcome.

What Causes Bipolar Disorder?

First of all, it is crucial to know that bipolar disorder is not your fault. There is no single cause of bipolar disorder, but it is believed that genetics play an important role in its development. A bipolar disorder episode may be triggered due to a combination of factors such as:

 

  • Family history: You are at a higher risk of developing bipolar disorder if you have a family member with bipolar disorder. Genetics appears to be the greatest risk for this condition. 

 

  • Exposure to Trauma: Trauma experienced in childhood, such as physical or sexual abuse, can increase your likelihood of developing bipolar disorder. You may also develop manic or depressive episodes after experiencing major life changes, stress, or trauma later in life. 

 

  • Biochemical Factors: Subtle differences in brain structure and activity may increase a person’s risk for bipolar disorder. You may also be more at risk for bipolar disorder after receiving a concussion or traumatic head injury.

 

  • Medical Conditions: Certain conditions such as stroke, insomnia, or hormonal disorders may trigger manic or depressive episodes.

 

  • Environmental Factors: Characteristics of your environment may increase your risk of bipolar disorder or make symptoms worse. Some environmental risks include changing seasons, sleep deprivation, difficult relationships, poor support system, instability, and other types of stress. 

 

  • Medications: Certain pharmaceutical or recreational drugs may trigger a bipolar episode:

    • Antidepressants  (working too well)

    • Stimulants and uppers (i.e., cocaine, diet pills)

    • Corticosteroids such as prednisone (Deltasone) and triamcinolone (Aristocort)

 

It is important to remember that bipolar disorder is not a sign of weakness. It is a complex condition that impacts your physiological functioning. Like other health conditions, such as asthma, receiving clinical intervention for bipolar disorder is imperative to managing symptoms and improving your life.

How is Bipolar Disorder Treated?

Bipolar disorder can be treated with counselling, medications, or both. There are also lifestyle changes that can be made to support your recovery.

Counselling & Therapy for Bipolar Disorder

 

  • Therapy is an effective way to help you cope with the symptoms of bipolar disorder. Therapy sessions will help you relieve distress by discussing and expressing your feelings. Counselling is not a temporary fix; you will work with your therapist to learn effective habits and tools for dealing with your problems that you can use long after your sessions have ended. 

  • Therapies such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) are effective for the treatment of bipolar disorder. Many of the ways we interpret events and deal with our problems can be unhelpful or even harmful to our well-being. In CBT, your therapist will work with you to identify any negative thinking or behavioural patterns and help you learn more helpful ways of viewing your world and tackling your problems. CBT can help prevent or lessen the severity of bipolar episodes.

  • Sometimes medications used to treat bipolar disorder can induce manic episodes. For people in this group, therapy is the best option to manage symptoms and improve your quality of life. 

  • The team at Life in Harmony is committed to providing you with the absolute best treatment to help you deal with your bipolar disorder. Our team is experienced, diverse, and offers various treatment approaches that can be specifically tailored to your needs.  

  • If you have experienced trauma, our team of therapists specializes in helping clients identify the roots of their struggles and learn effective tools for overcoming them. 

  • Reach out today to book a session with one of our therapists and let a trained professional help you navigate your symptoms and find ways to improve your life. 

Counselling & Therapy for Bipolar Disorder

Therapy is one of the most effective treatments for building long-lasting strategies to help you cope with the symptoms of depression. Therapy is not a temporary fix for depression. You will work with your therapist to learn effective coping mechanisms and tools you can use long after your sessions have ended. 

 

Therapies such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) are very effective for the treatment of depressive disorders. CBT is also helpful for anxiety, which commonly accompanies depression. Many of the ways we interpret events and deal with our problems can be unhelpful or even harmful to our well-being. In CBT, your therapist will work with you to identify any negative thinking or behavioural patterns and help you learn more helpful ways of viewing your world and tackling your problems. 

 

The team at Life in Harmony is committed to providing you with the absolute best treatment to help you deal with your depression. Our team is experienced, diverse, and offers an array of treatment approaches that can be specifically tailored to your needs. 

 

If you have experienced trauma, our team of therapists specializes in helping clients identify the roots of their struggles and learn effective tools for overcoming them. 

 

Reach out today to book a session with one of our therapists and let a trained professional help you navigate your symptoms and find ways to improve your life. 

Types of Bipolar Disorder

There are several subtypes of bipolar disorder that vary in their presentation.

 

  • Bipolar I Disorder: Characterized by at least one manic episode, which is severe or significant in nature. There may or may not be depressive episodes present. 

 

  • Bipolar II Disorder: Characterized by one or more episodes of depression and at least one hypomanic episode. 

    • Hypomania: described as a mood or level of energy that is elevated above normal. It is less extreme than mania and does not cause impairment. A person with hypomania may feel really good, but the mood is not stable, and there is a risk that depression will follow. 


Cyclothymic Disorder: Characterized by shifts in mood that are less extreme typical bipolar disorder. Cyclothymic disorder can make day-to-day life challenging and cause interpersonal problems. However, it does not impair daily functioning to the same degree as bipolar disorder.

Counselling for Bipolar Disorder in Vaughan, Woodbridge & Greater Toronto Area

We are the largest counselling service provider in the Vaughan and Woodbridge area with over 15 years of experience. Our team of therapists specializes in helping clients identify the roots of their struggles and learn effective tools for overcoming them. We offer cutting edge counselling and coaching to individuals, families, and couples.