Bipolar Disorder

BipolarCounseling for bipolar disorder often begins, because one’s usual self is not being experienced, and includes such behaviors as:

  • Feeling so good or so hyper that other people think you are not your normal self, or getting into trouble for being so hyper.
  • Irritability resulting in shouting, fighting or arguing with others.
  • Feeling much more self-confident than usual.
  • Getting much less sleep than usual and not missing the lost sleep.
  • Being more talkative or speaking much faster than usual.
  • Experiencing racing thoughts or inability to slow down the mind.
  • Having much more energy than usual.
  • Being much more active or completing many more tasks than usual.
  • Being much more social or outgoing than usual (for example, telephoning family and friends in the middle of the night).
  • Being much more interested in sex than usual.
  • Exhibiting unusual, excessive, foolish or risky behavior.
  • Spending money, getting yourself or family into trouble.

One or more of the above issues may occur during the same period of time, and the issues may cause difficulties, such as inability to work, conflict with spouse or family members, money or legal problems, or excessive arguments or fights.

You may be at the point where these difficulties are costing you so much pain that you are now motivated to solve these problems and learn how to cope more effectively.

Evidence-based treatment with Cognitive Behavior Therapy is the proven, effective treatment for bipolar disorder. Dr. Kuhlman has extensive knowledge and more than 30 years of experience helping those who struggle with bipolar and mood disorder issues.

What Is Bipolar?

Bipolar is a brain disorder that causes unusual shifts in a person’s mood, energy, and ability to function. It is also called manic-depressive illness.

About 2.6% of U.S. adults, 18 and older, have bipolar disorder in any given year. Different from normal ups and downs that everyone experiences, bipolar disorder symptoms are more extreme, resulting in damaged relationships, poor job or school performance, and even suicide.

What Are the Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder?

Source: NIMH publication, 06-3679, 2006.

Bipolar disorder causes dramatic mood swings—from overly “high” and/or irritable (mania) to sad and hopeless (depression), and then back again, often with a period of normal mood in between.

Signs and symptoms of mania (or a manic episode) include:

  • Increased energy, activity, and restlessness;
  • Excessively “high”, overly good, euphoric mood;
  • Extreme irritability;
  • Racing thoughts and talking very fast, jumping from one idea to another;
  • Distractibility, unable to concentrate well;
  • Little sleep needed;
  • Unrealistic beliefs in one’s abilities and powers;
  • Poor judgment;
  • Spending sprees;
  • A lasting period of behavior that is different from usual;
  • Increased sex drive;
  • Abuse of drugs, particularly cocaine, alcohol and sleeping medications;
  • Provocative, intrusive, or aggressive behavior; and/or
  • Denial that anything is wrong.

Signs and symptoms of depression (or a depressive episode) include:

  • Lasting sad, anxious, or empty mood;
  • Feelings of hopelessness or pessimism;
  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness;
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in activities once enjoyed, including sex;
  • Lack of motivation and withdrawal;
  • Decreased energy, a feeling of fatigue, or of being “slowed down”;
  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions;
  • Restlessness or irritability;
  • Sleeping too much, or inability to sleep;
  • Change in appetite and/or unintended weight loss or gain;
  • Chronic pain or other persistent bodily symptoms not caused by physical illness or injury; and/or
  • Thoughts of death or suicide, or suicide attempts.

Dr. Kuhlman can help you with these problems. There is hope, but you must ask for help.

A diagnosis of bipolar disorder is made on the basis of symptoms, course of illness, and when available, family history.

People with bipolar disorder can lead healthy and fulfilling lives when the illness is effectively treated. However, without treatment, the natural course of bipolar disorder tends to worsen. Over time, more severe manic and depressive episodes are experienced.

Proper treatment can, in most cases, reduce the frequency and severity of episodes and can help people with bipolar disorder maintain a good-quality life.

How Is Bipolar Disorder Treated?

Dr. Kuhlman provides Cognitive Behavior Therapy, the preferred evidence-based treatment for mood disorders at his two offices in the greater Denver area. Studies have shown that Cognitive Behavior Therapy leads to increased mood stability, fewer hospitalizations, and significantly improved occupational and marital functioning. Dr. Kuhlman helps clients learn to change inappropriate or negative thought patterns and behaviors associated with the illness.

Most persons in treatment can achieve substantial stabilization of their mood swings and related symptoms with proper treatment. A strategy that combines medication and psychosocial treatment is optimal for managing the disorder.

Mood-stabilizing medication is available to Dr. Kuhlman’s patients on a referred-out basis through several psychiatrists (psychopharmacologists) with whom he coordinates treatment.

Keeping a chart of daily mood symptoms, treatments, sleep patterns, and life events can help people with bipolar disorder and their families to better understand the illness. The chart can also help Dr. Kuhlman track and treat the illness most effectively.

Dr. Kuhlman provides diagnosis and treatment for other disorders commonly associated with bipolar disorder, such as Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Attention Deficit Disorder with or without Hyperactivity Disorder, and Anxiety Disorders, including Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Panic Attacks, and Shyness.

Spouse, Family, Friends and Employers

Like other serious illnesses, bipolar disorder is also difficult for spouses, family members, friends, and employers. Family members of a bipolar disorder sufferer often have to cope with serious behavioral problems, such as wild spending sprees during mania or extreme withdrawal from others during depression, and the lasting consequences of these behaviors.

Sometimes a family member or friend may need to take the person with bipolar disorder to Dr. Kuhlman for a proper mental health evaluation and treatment.

Dr. Kuhlman also provides conjoint spousal therapy to teach strategies to reduce a couple’s level of distress contributing to or resulting from the bipolar person’s symptoms.

Dr. Kuhlman Can Help

If you are experiencing mood swings or problematic mood-related behavior, Dr. Kuhlman can help you understand why you feel the way you do, to help you feel more comfortable. You can learn what to do to feel less manic and emotionally out of control.

With the support of a caring, confidential professional counseling relationship, you can feel better and do more.

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