Bipolar disorder is a complicated disease and while it can be difficult to treat, it is by no means impossible to find a psychiatrist and find a treatment plan that alleviates the symptoms of this disease and allows you to live a better life. As a psychiatrist, bipolar disorder is something I have treated for many years, and I have helped many patients successfully combat this disease.
There are several types of bipolar disorder, all of which cause severe disruptions in mood and energy. Most patients experience periods of mania as well as periods of deep depression. During some severe manic episodes, it is not uncommon for patients to engage in risky behaviors, while during depressive episodes, patients often have little to no energy, have difficulty sleeping, experience deep sadness and often have suicidal thoughts.
Most people, in general, have some disruptions in their mood. We might feel sad or irritated or even a bit manic, but these disruptions usually resolve quickly. With bipolar disorder, these periods of mania and depression can last for days or weeks, greatly disrupting a person’s daily life.
The most common type of bipolar disorder is known as Bipolar I. In order to be diagnosed with Bipolar I, the patient must have experienced at least one severe manic event or period lasting at least one week. Typically, during this severe manic episode, the patient has little need for sleep, racing thoughts, faster speech, an increase in activity and an increase in risky behavior, such as driving too fast, engaging in unprotected sex, etc.
People with Bipolar I also will experience hypomanic episodes, which are periods with less severe mania that don’t necessarily interfere with daily life. Additionally, with Bipolar I, a patient will have experienced at least one major depressive episode lasting for at least two weeks.
Bipolar II is another type of bipolar disorder that is less severe than Bipolar I. With this type of bipolar disorder, the patient will experience hypomania, but not the severe manic episodes that people with Bipolar I experience. However, those with Bipolar II, typically will experience a major depressive episode.
Cyclothymic disorder is a third type of bipolar disorder, and people with this disorder will experience frequent mood swings from hypomania to depression, but the symptoms are not as severe as with Bipolar I or Bipolar 2. No matter which type of this disease you might have, a psychiatrist for bipolar disorder can help.
What Causes Bipolar Disorder?
We don’t really know what causes bipolar disorder, but we do know that there is a genetic component. If your parent or a sibling or even a grandparent has or had bipolar disorder, you may be at a higher risk for developing this disease. More research is needed, but some research also does indicate that people with bipolar disorder may have a different brain structure than those who do not have this disease.
Many people with bipolar disorder often have co-occurring disorders, such as an anxiety disorder or depression. Drug and alcohol addiction also are common in people with bipolar disorder. While the symptoms of bipolar disorder are scary, as are the symptoms of the co-occurring disorders, the good news is that bipolar disorder (and co-occurring disorders) can be treated by a psychiatrist and other mental health professionals.
Why Do You Need A Psychiatrist For Bipolar Disorder?
While a therapist, counselor or psychologist can provide useful services for people with bipolar disorder or any other type of mental illness, a psychiatrist is the only one of these professionals that can provide you with any medication that you might need.
Medication often is one of the most helpful tools we use to alleviate the symptoms of bipolar disorder. There are several medications authorized for use with bipolar disorder, and while these can be effective, it’s important that patients understand that the medication does not solve all of the problems overnight. Not only does it take time for the medication to work, but it also can take time to find the ideal dosage.
With any type of therapy or medication, patience is crucial, although I certainly understand the frustration you feel dealing with bipolar disorder on a day-to-day basis. Still, we will be working toward a solution, and using the services of a bipolar disorder psychiatrist can be your best first step.
I begin the process with a careful evaluation of each patient. This isn’t simply a 30-minute visit, this is a multi-session evaluation where I dig deep to ensure that we make the correct diagnosis and come up with a workable recovery plan. Too often, psychiatrists rush this process and don’t address all of the issues their patient is facing.
As stated above, people with bipolar disorder often have co-occurring disorders such as depression, anxiety or perhaps an eating disorder. Additionally, there may be medical conditions that need to be addressed, and as a medical doctor that specializes in mental illnesses, I have the unique ability to study the whole person and find solutions that address both mental and physical issues.
While I can provide you with a diagnosis and treatment plan, as well as writing prescriptions for medications, I do recommend that you work with a psychologist or therapist, as well. Cognitive behavioral therapy and other types of therapy should be part of your treatment plan, and these professionals can provide you with the therapy you need to live a happier life.
How To Find A Psychiatrist For Bipolar Disorder
Finding professional help can be tricky. Not only do you need to find a competent psychiatrist that specializes in treating bipolar disorder, but this needs to be someone with whom you feel comfortable and secure. In the past, most people have been restricted to using a local psychiatrist in their general geographic location, but with telepsychiatry, you should have a much easier time finding someone who is a good match for you.
During the pandemic, telepsychiatry became a necessity as did telemedicine, but many patients love the convenience of using an online psychiatrist. You can stay comfortable in your home, and you don’t have to deal with the stress of driving or traffic. Telepsychiatry saves time and it allows you to access help from anywhere you have an internet connection. You don’t have to miss an appointment if you are on a work trip or away for vacation.
Additionally, telepsychiatry allows you to find a psychiatrist that matches your needs and personality. You don’t have to find that elusive “bipolar psychiatrist near me,” so whether you’ve been looking for a psychiatrist in Los Angeles, or perhaps San Diego, or even a psychiatrist in Thousand Oaks (my neck of the woods), finding an online psychiatrist might be the best option.
I can meet with patients from anywhere in the country using a secure online video conference platform. It is similar to Skype, but Skype is a consumer-grade conferencing platform and telemedicine must be done over a HIPAA-secure platform to protect a person’s privacy.
How do you find the right online psychiatrist? Bipolar disorder is a complicated disease, so you will need to find someone who specializes in treating bipolar disorder. In my practice, I treat all types of bipolar disorder, as well as depression, anxiety, ADHD and even drug abuse and alcoholism.
You also need to find a bipolar disorder psychiatrist with a philosophy that matches your needs. In my opinion, doctors often rush the diagnostic and evaluation process, which is crucial if we are searching for a long-term solution for bipolar disorder. As I tell my patients, psychiatric disorders are not a weakness. They are a biological disease that is often treatable.
It takes time to evaluate a patient and it takes time to create the ideal treatment plan. Once we create that plan and move forward, you should see a huge, positive change in your life. We can treat bipolar disorder, and you can live a happier, less stressful life. There is always hope, and we can find a solution for bipolar disorder and any other mental health issues you face.
If you need to find a psychiatrist for bipolar disorder, anxiety, depression, ADHD or other mental health issues, don’t hesitate to get in touch. I offer both in-person and telepsychiatry appointments. Take a moment to read some of the information on my website to gauge whether or not my approach seems to fit your needs. Mental illness can be treated, there is hope, and you deserve to live a better life, so get started on the road to treatment today.
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Dr Jesalva is a psychiatrist. He is in private practice in Thousand Oaks, CA since 1989. He successfully treats very challenging patients with varying co-occurring disorders with medications.