Bipolar Symptoms In Men: What To Watch For
By: Stephanie Kirby
Updated August 28, 2020
Medically Reviewed By: Karen Devlin, LPC
Do you suffer from swings in your energy levels that seem out of the ordinary? Is it sometimes hard for you to maintain the activity level that you want and carry out your day-to-day tasks? Do you ever wonder why some days you can be full of energy and other days you can't seem to roll yourself out of bed? It could be that you suffer from Bipolar Disorder.
There are four basic types of bipolar disorder that people can be diagnosed with. Understanding what the symptoms are and how they differ between men and women can help you to recognize if you could be suffering from the symptoms and get help in order to overcome it.
What is Bipolar Disorder?
Bipolar disorder used to be more commonly known as manic-depressive illness. It causes a person to experience large shifts in mood. This isn't like the typical changes in mood that most people experience throughout the day. It is actually a brain disorder that impacts mood and energy levels.
A person that's living with bipolar disorder may experience extreme highs followed by extreme lows. When they are in their high it's referred to as mania or hypomania, which is just a slightly less extreme form of mania. During this phase of bipolar disorder, people are full of energy. They can even feel euphoric. However, they can also experience unusual irritability during this time as well.
When this phase is over, mood shifts towards depression. People may experience feelings of hopelessness and lose interest in the activities that they usually enjoy. These constant shifts in mood happen unexpectedly and usually interrupt normal life functions like sleep, concentration, and behavior.
Types of Bipolar Disorder
- Bipolar I Disorder - Diagnosis of this type are for people that experience depressive episodes that last for at least two weeks and manic episodes that continue for at least a week. It's also possible for people to experience episodes with mixed symptoms of depression and mania.
- Bipolar II Disorder - People with Bipolar II Disorder have depressive and manic episodes but not to the extreme levels of Bipolar I Disorder.
- Cyclothymic Disorder or Cyclothymia - People in this group experience shifts in mood over the course of several years, but they do not meet the requirements and severity of Bipolar I or II.
- Unspecified Bipolar and related disorders - This diagnosis is for people that experience symptoms of bipolar that don't meet the requirements of the other diagnoses.
Bipolar Symptoms in Men
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, "The condition affects men and women equally, with about 2.6% of the U.S. population diagnosed with bipolar disorder and nearly 83% of cases classified as severe." But while both men and women are diagnosed with the disorder at the same rate, their symptoms can look different.
The average age of onset of the disorder typically appears around the age of 25. However, it often occurs earlier in life in men. Men are also more likely to experience symptoms of manic episodes. Women, on the other hand, are more likely to have depressive episodes.
Another difference in symptoms for men is that they can be more likely to show aggression when they are having a manic episode. This is similar to other differences in mental health conditions in men such as depression. Men are more likely to show irritability and anger when depressed than women are. Many people don't connect aggression with these diagnoses, which can make it harder to diagnosis the disorder because many men don't realize that it's a symptom of a mental health condition.
Overall, women are more likely to experience frequent symptoms than men. However, when men have symptoms, they tend to be more severe. And, men are more likely to have substance use disorders if they suffer from symptoms of Bipolar Disorder.
Men are Less Likely to Seek Help
The good news is that there are multiple treatment options for Bipolar Disorder. If you have symptoms of the disorder, you don't have to continue to live with them. However, the bad news is that men are less likely to receive treatment. This is true of all mental health disorders and not just Bipolar Disorder.
While women are more likely to experience a mental health disorder, men are more likely to die by suicide. While the exact cause of this is not known, it could be because men are less likely to seek the treatment that they need for their mental health challenges. By not finding treatment they continue to suffer from symptoms that they could experience relief from if they were willing to talk to professionals in order to get help.
Bipolar Symptoms In Men: Treatment Options
There are multiple forms of treatment that you can use for Bipolar Disorder. The same treatment might not be the right one for everyone and there are many people that experience a relief after finding the right combination of multiple treatments. The key is trying different things until you find what works the best for you. Some forms of treatment include:
Bipolar Symptoms in Men: Medication
There are different types of medication that can work to treat Bipolar Disorder. These include antidepressants, mood stabilizers, and antipsychotic medication. Medication can help you to gain control over your symptoms while you work on using other forms of treatment to develop strategies and skills to help you cope with and overcome the disorder.
Some men may find that they respond well to medication and others may find that they prefer to focus on another form of treatment. Talking with a medical professional is the best way to determine what type of medication is going to be the best for you to try. Once you are taking medication it's important that you monitor how you are responding both physically and mentally to see if there are any negative side effects from the medication. If you think that your medication is causing you trouble, then you need to discuss it with your doctor or psychiatrist as soon as possible.
It's important to remember that medication is not a cure-all for mental health conditions. They can help you to manage your symptoms, but if you want to experience the best recovery, it's important to work on making adjustments to your lifestyle as well. The other forms of treatment listed below can help you with this.
There are many different forms of therapy that are effective for mental health conditions. When it comes to Bipolar Disorder, there are three forms that have been found to be the most effective. These include Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Social Rhythm Therapy, and Family-Focused Therapy.
CBT is a form of therapy that helps you to learn the connection between your emotions, thoughts, and behaviors. This form of therapy helps you to learn how to identify negative thought patterns in your life and how they impact your behavior. When you learn to recognize the thoughts, you can replace them with positive ones in order to change your behavior.
Social rhythm therapy is often combined with Interpersonal Therapy. They work together to address the different areas of your life that are impacted by Bipolar Disorder. Interpersonal therapy works to address the problems that you have within the close relationships within your life. These can be major causes of stress, which can trigger symptoms of Bipolar Disorder. When you learn how to improve your interpersonal skills you can reduce stress thus reducing your change of Bipolar symptoms.
Social rhythm therapy works to address other areas of your life impacted by symptoms. This includes your eating, exercising, and sleep habits. It's important to learn how to regulate your circadian rhythms in order to stabilize your biological clock. By doing this you can help to stabilize your mood as well.
Family focused therapy works with the entire family. Bipolar Disorder isn't just difficult for the person that is diagnosed with the disorder. It can disrupt the life of family members as well that are working to support you throughout your journey towards recovery. This is why it can be beneficial for the family to become educated on the disorder and learn coping skills as well.
When diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder it's important to carefully manage your lifestyle. This is in line with Social Rhythm Therapy. Practicing good self-care habits can be a critical part of stabilizing your life. This includes maintaining a healthy diet, exercising on a regular basis, getting enough sleep, and finding ways to reduce your stress. Having good time management skills and organizational skills can help when it comes to your daily and work functions.
Don't Delay in Reaching Out for Help
There is a stigma that surrounds mental health and it gets in the way of many people getting the help that they need. However, it's important if you believe that you have Bipolar Disorder that you don't delay in getting help. As you can see there are many forms of treatment available. Reach out to an experienced therapist to find out what the best forms of treatment are for you.
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