An Integrated Approach to Young Adult Mental Health Rehab

Bipolar Disorder

Suicidal thoughts are a primary symptom of bipolar disorder in young adults

So effective, timely treatment is critical.

Bipolar disorder is characterized by extreme ups and downs in mood and activity levels. These symptoms typically manifest during the late teens and early twenties—between the ages of 15 and 24. That’s a turbulent time for young people. Hence, it may be difficult for them and their families to determine whether their feelings and behaviors are the result of typical emotional challenges during this stage of life—or whether they are signs of a mental health disorder such as bipolar.  

Bipolar in young adults isn’t as common as other mental health conditions, including depression and anxiety. However, according to the National Alliance for Mental Illness, the vast majority of bipolar disorder cases—83 percent—are classified as severe. Therefore, early diagnosis and treatment are crucial, because bipolar disorder doesn’t get better on its own. A comprehensive assessment by experts who specialize in young adult mental health is the first step. With the right treatment, a young person who is suffering from bipolar can regain a sense of balance and achieve sustainable recovery. 

Symptoms and Causes of Bipolar in Young Adults

Is bipolar disorder the same as manic depression?

Manic depression was the name previously used for the condition now referred to by mental health professionals as bipolar disorder. Manic depression refers to the two most common symptoms of this disorder: manic states and depressive states. However, these two extremes do not take into account the full spectrum of symptoms.  

Depending on the type of bipolar disorder, bipolar in young adults can manifest in a variety of ways. Therefore, a bipolar disorder symptoms list is slightly different for each type. Furthermore, signs of bipolar disorder in young adults vary according to the kind of bipolar episode they are experiencing.  

Know the Facts

More than 60% of adult patients with bipolar disorder say they experienced symptoms before the age of 20.

The Four Types of Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar I

is characterized by manic episodes interspersed with periods of either depression or relative emotional stability. To be diagnosed with bipolar I, a young adult must experience manic episodes that last at least a week, or that are severe enough to require hospitalization.

Bipolar II

involves cycles of depression and what is known as hypomania—a milder set of manic symptoms that can resemble either euphoria or irritability. To be diagnosed with bipolar II, a young adult must experience at least one hypomanic episode in his or her life.

Cyclothymic disorder

or cyclothymia also involves moving through depressive and manic cycles. However, the symptoms are not as extreme as those suffered by individuals with bipolar I or bipolar II. Young adults may experience periods of more stable moods, but usually for no longer than eight weeks before having another episode.

“Other specified”

and “unspecified” bipolar types refer to extended periods of mood swings that do not meet the criteria for bipolar I, II or cyclothymia.

Young adult bipolar symptoms are different depending on whether they are experiencing a manic, hypomanic, or depressive episode. In addition, some individuals with bipolar may experience what’s known as “mixed episodes” or “mixed features.” A so-called “manic episode with mixed features” includes symptoms of both mania and depression. A mixed episode could be either a manic episode with at least three symptoms of depression or a major depressive episode with at least three symptoms of mania. 

Common Symptoms of a Manic Bipolar Episode 

Generally, manic episodes last for at least one week. During that time, symptoms may occur every day or almost every day. Furthermore, manic episodes occur seemingly at random. Hence, there might not be obvious bipolar triggers and warning signs.  

Symptoms of bipolar manic episodes may include the following: 

  • Exhibiting an inflated sense of self-esteem
  • Engaging in risky behaviors as a result of impaired judgment
  • Appearing more motivated to accomplish goals
  • Acting confused or chaotically
  • Doing multiple things at once
  • Speaking and moving rapidly
  • Difficulty concentrating, easily distracted
  • Feeling less need for sleep
  • Racing thoughts
  • High levels of energy and physical activity
  • A sense of euphoria or heightened well-being
  • Suicidal thoughts.

Symptoms of Depressive Bipolar Episodes

Depressive episodes in bipolar disorder are diagnosed when the depressive symptoms last for at least two weeks. Here are some of the most common signs of bipolar disorder in young adults during a depressive episode: 

  • Extreme sadness or feeling of hopelessness 
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in activities that used to bring them joy 
  • Sleeping too much or too little 
  • Either agitation or sluggishness 
  • Feelings of guilt and worthlessness 
  • Disrupted eating—either under- or overeating—and weight changes 
  • Fatigue and loss of energy 
  • Difficulty concentrating 
  • Suicidal thoughts. 

Know the Facts

Individuals with bipolar disorder are up to 30 times more likely than the general population to die by suicide.

Is it possible to have bipolar disorder if I can still function in daily life? 

Yes, because not all bipolar episodes are incapacitating. For example, hypomanic episodes are similar to manic episodes, but much less severe. Therefore, bipolar young adults may continue to function during the episode. They may even experience greater sociability and productivity. But, like full-blown manic episodes, hypomania can lead young adults to engage in dangerous and self-destructive activities, such as drug use, unprotected sex, or binge drinking

Causes of Bipolar in Young Adults 

Researchers believe that bipolar disorder may be caused by a combination of environmental, genetic, and neurological factors.  

  • Environmental: Trauma, stress, conflict, and abuse in a child’s history and home environment may contribute to the development of bipolar disorder in young adults. 
  • Neurological: Imbalances in the levels of emotion-regulating neurotransmitters in the brain may increase the risk of bipolar in young adults. One study found that the brains of adults with bipolar showed thinning of the gray matter in the areas that control inhibition and motivation. 
  • Genetic: Research shows that bipolar disorder appears to run in families. Young people with a parent or sibling who has bipolar disorder have a 15–30 percent risk of developing bipolar—as opposed to 4–6 percent of the general population.  

Diagnosis and Treatment of Bipolar Disorder in Young Adults 

What will I experience in an assessment for bipolar disorder? 

While there is no medical test for bipolar disorder, experts have determined how to diagnose bipolar disorder in young adults. Consequently, a medical or mental health professional will take the following steps when assessing a young adult for bipolar: 

  • Physical exam: A thorough physical will help a doctor isolate any medical issues that may be contributing to depressive or manic symptoms, such as thyroid problems. 
  • Lab tests: Should a physical indicate any medical problems, a doctor may order lab tests to confirm or rule out contributing issues.  
  • Interview: A physician or psychiatrist will talk with you about your mood swings, lifestyle habits, and behaviors. This will help identify the likelihood of a bipolar diagnosis, as well as any co-occurring disorders. Anxiety disorders, substance abuse, and eating disorders are common conditions that can occur with bipolar in young adults.

Know the Facts

40% of adults with bipolar type I and 20% of those with bipolar type II also experience a substance abuse disorder during their lifetime.

Is bipolar disorder worse in young women than it is in young men? 

Women have a higher risk than men of developing bipolar II. Hence, depressive bipolar disorder symptoms in females are more common. In addition, women have an increased risk of rapid cycling between episodes, and they more frequently experience mixed episodes—episodes with both depressive and manic symptoms. 

In addition, recovery may be more difficult for women, because they are more likely to suffer from co-occurring anxiety disorders and medical issues.

Treatment Approaches of Bipolar Disorder for Young Adults 

  • Clinical and experiential therapeutic modalities can help uncover underlying trauma and stress that may have contributed a bipolar diagnosis.  
  • Self-regulation techniques support young adults in managing symptoms by recognizing bipolar triggers and warning signs. 
  • Self-care and lifestyle interventions, such as physical exercise and nourishing relationships, can complement and enhance the impact of bipolar treatment.
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Care at Newport Institute

Care at Newport Institute

Our Approach

At Newport Institute, we recognize that many factors may contribute to bipolar mental disorder, and that each young adult is unique. Our philosophy is to address symptoms by unearthing root causes. Thus, our treatment programs support young adults to reveal and heal childhood trauma that may have triggered bipolar disorder. And we treat co-occurring disorders by recognizing them as reactions to the pain and distress caused by bipolar symptoms. In addition, we give young adults tools for better understanding themselves, so they can learn to navigate the challenges of a bipolar diagnosis.

Our staff is passionate and dedicated to share of themselves and do whatever it takes for the success of the individual. Unlike other treatment centers that use a single treatment model, our team of professionals is well versed in a variety of treatment modalities. That allows us to tailor the treatment and provide comprehensive for that specific individual and what their needs and underlining issues.

Dr Barbara Nosal, PhD, LMFT, LACD
Chief Clinical Officer

Types of Treatment for Anxiety Disorders

Clinical

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy helps young adults reframe the patterns of thinking that accompany different mood states and also monitor their activity levels during episodes.
  • Dialectical Behavioral Therapy guides young adults to find ways to decrease the stress associated with bipolar disorder symptoms, and better manage emotional fluctuations.
  • Attachment-Based Family Therapy helps rebuild disrupted family relationships so young adults can rely on their parents for support in recovering from bipolar.
  • Group psychoeducation teaches life skills, creates a sense of connection, and counteracts feelings of isolation associated with bipolar in young adults.
  • Interpersonal and Social Rhythm therapy gives young adults methods for establishing healthy lifestyle routines and more harmonious relationships, in order to help stabilize their moods.
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy helps young adults reframe the patterns of thinking that accompany different mood states and also monitor their activity levels during episodes.
  • Dialectical Behavioral Therapy guides young adults to find ways to decrease the stress associated with bipolar disorder symptoms, and better manage emotional fluctuations.
  • Attachment-Based Family Therapy helps rebuild disrupted family relationships so young adults can rely on their parents for support in recovering from bipolar.
  • Group psychoeducation teaches life skills, creates a sense of connection, and counteracts feelings of isolation associated with bipolar in young adults.
  • Interpersonal and Social Rhythm therapy gives young adults methods for establishing healthy lifestyle routines and more harmonious relationships, in order to help stabilize their moods.
  • Dialectical Behavioral Therapy
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy helps young adults reframe the patterns of thinking that accompany different mood states and also monitor their activity levels during episodes.
  • Dialectical Behavioral Therapy guides young adults to find ways to decrease the stress associated with bipolar disorder symptoms, and better manage emotional fluctuations.
  • Attachment-Based Family Therapy helps rebuild disrupted family relationships so young adults can rely on their parents for support in recovering from bipolar.
  • Group psychoeducation teaches life skills, creates a sense of connection, and counteracts feelings of isolation associated with bipolar in young adults.
  • Interpersonal and Social Rhythm therapy gives young adults methods for establishing healthy lifestyle routines and more harmonious relationships, in order to help stabilize their moods.

Experiential

  • Mindfulness and meditation help balance the nervous system and give young adults tools for “riding the wave” of emotions during bipolar episodes.
  • Creative art therapies offer opportunities for processing trauma related to or underlying bipolar disorder.
  • Adventure Therapy supports young adults to feel empowered to handle challenges and master new skills—and then apply them to their own lives.
  • Equine-Assisted Therapy elicits positive emotions and the release of oxytocin.
  • Community service gives young adults a way to do good for others, proven to increase life satisfaction and well-being.
  • Mindfulness and meditation help balance the nervous system and give young adults tools for “riding the wave” of emotions during bipolar episodes.
  • Creative art therapies offer opportunities for processing trauma related to or underlying bipolar disorder.
  • Adventure Therapy supports young adults to feel empowered to handle challenges and master new skills—and then apply them to their own lives.
  • Equine-Assisted Therapy elicits positive emotions and the release of oxytocin.
  • Community service gives young adults a way to do good for others, proven to increase life satisfaction and well-being.
  • Mindfulness and meditation help balance the nervous system and give young adults tools for “riding the wave” of emotions during bipolar episodes.
  • Creative art therapies offer opportunities for processing trauma related to or underlying bipolar disorder.
  • Adventure Therapy supports young adults to feel empowered to handle challenges and master new skills—and then apply them to their own lives.
  • Equine-Assisted Therapy elicits positive emotions and the release of oxytocin.
  • Community service gives young adults a way to do good for others, proven to increase life satisfaction and well-being.

Experiential therapeutic modalities allow young adults to engage directly with their environment. Within a safe, therapeutic setting, old habits and behaviors come to light and are gradually resolved, and new, healthy pathways are formed. The body takes the lead, coming into harmony through focused action, and the mind follows.

Jamison Monroe
Newport Institute’s Founder and Executive Chairman

By combining leading-edge experiential approaches with evidence-based, time-tested clinical modalities, our treatment methodology for bipolar disorder in young adults creates powerful positive change. Contact us today to begin the recovery journey.

Marks of Quality Care

Our innovative approach to mental healthcare earns accolades from press around the world, but it is our dedication to our client success that has helped us achieve accreditation from The Joint Commission, exceed licensing standards of care, and nurture affiliations with the following:

Newport Institute

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