Bipolar disorder (formerly called Manic Depression) is a chronic mental health condition that is estimated to affect more than 40 million people worldwide[1]. A type of mood disorder characterized by intense shifts in mood from one extreme to the other, bipolar disorder is a widely misunderstood condition.

Because of the social stigma attached to bipolar disorder, people with the condition may feel alone and unsupported. In addition, the extreme shifts in energy levels, behavior, and mood can make day-to-day activities very difficult, including maintaining healthy, stable relationships and employment.

At Cogniful, we offer a comprehensive treatment solution for people living with bipolar disorder. We are a therapeutic community in tranquil Mallorca that’s focused on providing individuals with holistic, personalized care plans led by a dedicated team of medical experts, psychiatrists, and therapists.

Our goal at Cogniful is to provide people with bipolar disorder with a supportive community and effective residential treatment to help them navigate the challenges of living with this mental health condition.


Bipolar disorder is a type of mood disorder that causes an individual’s mood to swing dramatically from one extreme to the other – from emotional highs to emotional lows. These extremes are known as mania and depression.

Mania is characterized by a feeling of being “up”, energized, or “on top of the world”. When a person with bipolar disorder is experiencing a period of mania, it’s called a manic episode.

Depression is the other extreme, causing a person to feel very “down”, sad, hopeless, or disinterested. A period of depression in bipolar disorder is known as a depressive episode.

Certain types of bipolar disorder can also include periods of hypomania, which is a less extreme form of mania. These periods are called hypomanic episodes.

How Many Types of Bipolar Disorder Are There?

There are several different types of bipolar disorder, based on the severity and pattern of an individual’s manic and depressive episodes. The three main types are:

Bipolar I Disorder: This type of bipolar disorder is diagnosed when a person has had at least one manic episode, preceded or followed by hypomanic or depressive episodes. The manic episodes may be so severe that hospitalization is required.

Bipolar II Disorder: People with this type of bipolar disorder have had at least one depressive episode and at least one hypomanic episode, without ever having had a completely manic episode. This diagnosis doesn’t normally require hospitalization.

Cyclothymic Disorder: This milder type of bipolar disorder is characterized by periods in which a person has numerous hypomanic symptoms as well as periods of depressive symptoms lasting for at least two years. This timeframe is shortened to one year in children and adolescents. Individuals are diagnosed with this type when their symptoms don’t meet the full requirements for a hypomanic or depressive episode.

There are other types of bipolar disorder that don’t fit into the exact diagnostic requirements of the three main types. These may include rapid cycling Bipolar, bipolar with mixed features, bipolar with seasonal pattern, and unspecified bipolar.

What Does Having Bipolar Feel Like?

Bipolar disorder can make life feel overwhelming and unpredictable. The contrast between the two emotional extremes can leave a person feeling disorientated and perhaps even disconnected from reality.

During manic episodes, an individual may feel euphoric, invincible, or full of energy. They might engage in risky behaviors like high-risk gambling, make impulsive decisions like extravagant shopping sprees, or feel like they don’t need as much sleep as usual. These behaviors can have some very negative financial and personal consequences.

Depressive episodes can feel like being plunged into the depths of despair and hopelessness. The individual might become lethargic, struggle with concentrating at work or school, and lose all interest in the activities they once loved.

Who’s At Risk for Bipolar Disorder?

Several key factors can increase a person’s risk of developing bipolar disorder. These factors can include:

Genetics: Bipolar disorder seems to run in families, as the family members of a person with bipolar disorder are more at risk of developing the condition themselves[2].

Brain structure and functioning: Neuroimaging studies have found certain structural and functional abnormalities in the brains of individuals with bipolar disorder[3].

Other mental health conditions: People living with other mental health disorders, including ADHD and Anxiety Disorder, might have a higher chance of also developing bipolar disorder.

Bipolar Statistics

Here are some interesting statistical facts about bipolar disorder.

  • Approximately 2.8% of the US population is diagnosed with bipolar disorder, with 83% of those cases classified as severe[4]
  • The average age of onset for bipolar disorder is 25, but it can begin in youth or adolescence[5]
  • Individuals with bipolar disorder are at a higher risk of suicide than the general population, with up to 65% attempting suicide at least once in their lifetime[6]
  • Over 60% of people with bipolar disorder have a co-occurring substance abuse disorder or other mental health condition[7]
  • Having a first-degree relative (parent or sibling) with bipolar disorder increases an individual’s chances of developing the condition by 10x[8]

While a single cause of bipolar disorder has not been found, research suggests that a combination of several factors may cause an individual to develop the condition. The main contributing factors are:


There is clear evidence that bipolar disorder tends to run in families, which means there’s a genetic element to the condition. Researchers are currently working to find the exact gene responsible for bipolar disorder.

Biological Differences

As mentioned earlier, studies have found that individuals with bipolar disorder have noticeable differences in the structure and functioning of their brains. The significance of these abnormalities is still being studied.

Neurotransmitter Imbalances

Neurotransmitters are chemicals that transmit information from one part of the brain to the other. Studies have found that people with bipolar disorder show an imbalance with their neurotransmitters. This can have a significant effect on mood regulation and could be responsible for many of the disorder’s symptoms.

Environmental Factors

The symptoms of bipolar disorder can often worsen in an individual when they’re faced with stressful life events or trauma. Significant life changes can also trigger the condition’s onset or worsen its symptoms. In addition, substance abuse has been shown to go hand in hand with bipolar disorder.

The signs and symptoms of bipolar disorder can be categorized into four categories: emotional, physical, cognitive, and behavioral. Because manic episodes and depressive episodes have polar opposite signs, we’ll define the symptoms for each.

A manic or hypomanic episode can only be diagnosed as such if a person shows at least three of the “manic episodes” symptoms below. For a person to be diagnosed as having a depressive episode, they need to show at least five of the “depressive episodes” symptoms.

Emotional Symptoms

  • Manic episodes: Easily irritable, elevated mood, heightened self-esteem, and euphoria
  • Depressive episodes: Feelings of worthlessness, persistent sadness, guilt, and a sense of hopelessness

Physical Symptoms

  • Manic episodes: Decreased need for sleep, restlessness, and heightened energy levels
  • Depressive episodes: Unexplained aches and pains, weight loss or gain, change of appetite, fatigue

Cognitive Symptoms

  • Manic episodes: Impaired decision-making abilities, racing thoughts, poor judgment, easily distracted from tasks at hand
  • Depressive episodes: Difficulty concentrating, indecisiveness, problems remembering things

Behavioral Symptoms

  • Manic episodes: Taking risks, becoming extremely goal-driven, impulsive behavior, talking too much or too fast
  • Depressive episodes: Not keeping up with personal care, withdrawal from social activities and situations, decreased productivity at work or school

Bipolar Episodes

Bipolar episodes are not like regular mood swings, which can change throughout the day. For a person living with bipolar disorder, their mood stays either manic or depressive for significant periods – weeks, months, or even years.

How Long Do Manic Episodes Last?

The length of time that a manic episode may last can vary widely, depending on how an individual is being treated, their stress levels, and other contributing factors. In bipolar I disorder, a manic episode will often last one week if treated and several weeks if left without treatment. Hypomanic episodes are less severe and typically last for less time, but will normally last for at least four days.

Being diagnosed with bipolar disorder requires careful evaluation by a trained mental health professional. Here’s how the diagnosis process normally works:

1. Clinical Interview

First, your mental health professional will have a discussion with you about the symptoms you’re experiencing. They’ll ask about your medical history and also inquire about any history of mental illness within your family.

2. Mood Charts

Your mental health provider will ask you to keep track of your moods daily using mood charts. This can help to identify the triggers that worsen your symptoms and to find patterns in your moods.

3. Medical Examination

You’ll probably have a medical examination to rule out conditions that aren’t bipolar disorder but cause similar symptoms. This could include thyroid disorders or substance abuse. This step ensures that you aren’t misdiagnosed, delaying treatment. 

4. Diagnostic Criteria

The mental health professional will assess the severity and duration of your symptoms using a special manual called the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5).

Living with bipolar disorder can make it extremely challenging to live a normal life day to day. Managing this condition requires a combination of professional help and self-help strategies designed to maintain stability. Here are seven proven self-help strategies to deal with bipolar disorder.

1. Maintain a Routine

Having a consistent daily routine is one of the most effective ways to manage the symptoms of bipolar disorder. Start by creating a routine that fits in with your unique life, and then make sure to stick to it every day. This can reduce the severity and duration of manic and depressive episodes.

  • Sleep Schedule: It’s best to get 7-9 hours of sleep each night, and to have set times for going to bed and waking up. Bipolar episodes can be triggered by sleep deprivation, so keeping a consistent sleep schedule is vital.
  • Daily activities: Plan out your day to create structure in your life. What time will you eat your meals? What time of day will you exercise? How about leisure time? Having structure helps to minimize stress, which can reduce the symptoms of bipolar disorder.

2. Keep Track of Your Mood

It’s important to monitor your mood so that you can become aware of your triggers and patterns. Knowing what makes your symptoms worse or triggers an episode will help you and your mental healthcare provider create an effective treatment plan.

  • Mood Journals: Several apps and websites can help you monitor your mood changes. Choose one that lets you record your daily mood levels, sleep patterns, and medication routine.
  • Awareness of Triggers: what triggers your manic or depressive episodes will be unique to you, so it’s important to become aware of those triggers. These might include stressful or traumatic experiences, changes of season, or big life changes.

3. Get Active

Staying active and getting regular exercise is vital for maintaining mental health. It can help reduce stress, stabilize your mood, and increase your overall sense of well-being. This makes physical activity one of the top ways to manage the symptoms of bipolar disorder.

  • Regular Exercise: Try to get at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise at least five times a week. You don’t have to run a marathon: just a brisk walk, swimming some laps, or going for a bike ride will help.
  • Mind-Body Exercises: Activities that focus on reconnecting your body and mind can help you gain stability in your life. Some examples of mind-body activities are yoga, tai chi, and Pilates. These exercises can help reduce stress and promote relaxation, which can help to reduce the symptoms of bipolar disorder.

4. Stay in Touch

It’s vital to develop and maintain a solid support system of friends and family – people who you can rely on for support and assistance when you need it. This might look like practical help like driving you to the grocery store, or emotional support like a caring phone call.

  • Family and Friends: People won’t always understand your condition, so educate your loved ones about what you’re going through. This will help them to provide support to you that makes a difference. Don’t be ashamed or hesitant to reach out when you need help.
  • Support Groups: Consider joining a support group for people living with bipolar disorder. This will give you a unique opportunity to socialize, share experiences, and receive comfort from others living with the condition.

5. Stick with Your Treatment Plan

When living with bipolar disorder, it’s crucial to follow the treatment plan that your healthcare professional has prescribed for you. Your treatment plan is designed to manage the symptoms of your condition most effectively, and making changes to it can have negative effects on your mood.

  • Medications: It’s essential to take your medicine as your provider has prescribed it. If you’re experiencing uncomfortable side effects or if you feel better, don’t stop taking your medication – instead, talk to your healthcare provider.
  • Therapy: Try not to miss a therapy appointment, as psychotherapy provides you with support and strategies that will help manage the symptoms of bipolar disorder effectively.

6. Practice Stress Management

Stress is a common trigger for bipolar episodes, so it’s important to develop strategies to cope with stress in your day-to-day life. Stress management techniques can help you stay calm and stable in stressful situations.

  • Mindfulness and Meditation: One of the best ways to stay grounded and get rid of stress is to practice mindfulness and meditation. You don’t have to meditate for hours – just a few minutes of meditation can make a significant difference to stress levels.
  • Relaxation Techniques: Several other relaxation techniques are easy to learn, including progressive muscle relaxation, guided imagery, and deep breathing exercises.

7. Educate Yourself

One of the most important strategies for managing bipolar disorder is educating yourself about the condition. Learning as much as you can about this disorder ensures that you’re well-equipped to handle the challenges it might create.

  • Research and Reading: Take time to read about symptoms, treatment options, and strategies for coping. You can find lots of useful information in books, articles, and trusted online resources.
  • Consult Your Healthcare Provider: Ask questions when you’re talking with your healthcare provider and therapist so that you can learn more about your condition. Seek their professional advice on ways to improve your quality of life.

Because there is no single cause for bipolar disorder, there isn’t one single treatment that works for managing its symptoms. Normally, a combination of treatments is tailored to an individual’s unique needs. The most common treatments are medications, psychotherapy, and lifestyle adjustments. Let’s take a look at each category.


The most essential type of treatment for bipolar disorder is medication. Medications can help to stabilize an individual’s mood swings, as well as to reduce the recurrence of manic and depressive episodes. The main types of medications normally used for treating bipolar disorder are:

1. Mood Stabilizers: Medications like lithium, valproate, and carbamazepine are mood stabilizers. This type of medication is often prescribed because it has proven highly effective for managing manic and depressive episodes.

2. Antipsychotic Medications: If an individual’s symptoms of mania or depression are severe, antipsychotic medications might be prescribed. Some examples are olanzapine, risperidone, and quetiapine.

3. Antidepressants: These types of medications are prescribed cautiously because they have a risk of triggering manic episodes. Because of this, they are often prescribed alongside mood stabilizers.

4. Anti-Anxiety Medications: Sleep issues and anxiety are two common symptoms of bipolar disorder. Benzodiazepines may be used as a short-term treatment to manage these symptoms.


The second type of bipolar disorder treatment is psychotherapy, also known as talk therapy. Psychotherapy is normally used in combination with medications to help individuals living with bipolar disorder manage their condition. It can help individuals to understand more about the disorder and develop coping strategies. There are three main types of psychotherapy:

1. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): This form of talk therapy focuses on identifying negative thought patterns and behaviors and replacing them with healthier thinking patterns.

2. Interpersonal and Social Rhythm Therapy (IPSRT): This type of therapy helps individuals stabilize their mood by maintaining regular daily routines and improving social interactions.

3. Psychoeducation: With this type of therapy, patients and their families can learn about the characteristics of bipolar disorder, the symptoms to watch for, and the treatment options available.

Lifestyle Adjustments

Making certain lifestyle adjustments is an important element of treating bipolar disorder. The following lifestyle adjustments can make a significant impact in managing the condition’s symptoms:

1. Regular Exercise: Physical activity is a highly effective way to improve mood, reduce stress, and support overall well-being. It’s recommended to get 30 minutes of moderate exercise every day.

2. Healthy Diet: A well-balanced diet can have a big impact on energy levels, mood, and mental health. A healthy diet consists of lots of fruit, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins.

3. Adequate Sleep: Getting 7-9 hours of sleep every night is important for managing the symptoms of bipolar disorder effectively. Keep a regular sleep schedule with a set bedtime and wake-up time.

4. Stress Management: Mindfulness and meditation techniques can help restore emotional balance and lower stress levels. Try yoga, tai chi, or breathing techniques.

In addition to medications, talk therapy, and lifestyle adjustments, there are a few other specialized bipolar disorder therapies that have been shown to help. These are sometimes recommended when other treatment options have been unsuccessful.

1. Light Therapy: This type of therapy uses a light box with fluorescent bulbs emitting extremely bright UV-filtered light, placed at the patient’s eye level. This can help rebalance the body’s natural circadian rhythm[9].

2. Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS): This non-invasive procedure utilizes magnetic fields to stimulate the brain’s nerve cells.

3. Ketamine Infusion Therapy: This new type of therapy has been shown to be effective in reducing the symptoms of depressive episodes, and may have a long-lasting beneficial effect.

Cogniful Therapeutic Community is reshaping residential mental health care treatment. We’re different from the conventional luxury rehab framework, with tranquil sanctuaries designed for healing the body, mind, and spirit towards better overall health.

If you’re living with bipolar disorder and ready to make a pivotal shift in your life, Cogniful is here for you. Our friendly and knowledgeable team of mental health experts, psychiatrists, and holistic practitioners work together to help you overcome the challenges you’re facing.

Our community is situated in a private oasis in Mallorca, where you can relax, reconnect, and find the healing you need for a better future.

[1] World Health Organization. Mental Disorders.

[2] National Health Service (NHS). Causes – Bipolar Disorder.

[3] National Library of Medicine (NLM). Cognitive Neuroscience and Brain Imaging in Bipolar Disorder.

[4] National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). Bipolar Disorder.

[5] Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA). Bipolar Disorder Statistics.

[6] National Library of Medicine (NLM). Suicide attempts in bipolar I and bipolar II disorder: a review and meta-analysis of the evidence.

[7] National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). Common Comorbidities with Substance Use Disorders Research Report
 Part 1: The Connection Between Substance Use Disorders and Mental Illness.