Understanding Bipolar Psychosis

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Bipolar disorder can be an extremely disruptive mental health condition. When someone who has this disorder develops symptoms of bipolar psychosis, this can exacerbate their distress. Thankfully, when a person receives proper care from a reputable provider, they can achieve better health and improved overall quality of life.

What is Bipolar Psychosis?

Bipolar psychosis is a form of bipolar disorder that also includes psychotic symptoms. Some people who have bipolar psychosis experience hallucinations, some have delusions, and some have both types of psychotic symptoms. 

According to a September 2022 article in the World Journal of Psychiatry, experts estimate that as many as 50% of people who have bipolar disorder will be impacted by symptoms of psychosis over the course of their lifetime. 

Signs and Symptoms of Bipolar Psychosis

Bipolar psychosis can look very different from one person to the next, depending on a variety of individual factors, including which types of bipolar disorder symptoms they have and which types of psychotic symptoms they develop.

Common Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder

  • Manic episodes: These are discrete periods of at least a week during which a person exhibits elevated mood, increased energy, and heightened self-confidence. During a manic episode, a person may be much more talkative than usual, launch multiple projects, engage in impulsive behaviors, and seem to have little to no need for sleep.
  • Hypomanic episodes: These are similar to what a person experiences during a manic episode, except the symptoms don’t last as long. To qualify as a hypomanic episode as defined in the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), a person must have symptoms most of the day for four consecutive days.
  • Major depressive episodes: These periods, which last for at least two weeks, are characterized by low energy, persistent sadness, and a pervasive lack of motivation. During a major depressive episode, a person may find it difficult to focus and concentrate. This can undermine their performance at work or in school. They may also be negatively affected by disrupted eating and sleeping patterns as well as recurrent thoughts of death and dying.

Common Versions of Bipolar Disorder

  • If a person has manic episodes, they have bipolar I disorder. (They may also have major depressive episodes, but only manic episodes are required for this diagnosis.)
  • If someone has both hypomanic episodes and major depressive episodes, they have bipolar II disorder.
  • If an individual has hypomanic and major depressive symptoms, but neither type persists long enough to qualify as a full episode, they have cyclothymic disorder.

In addition to having these types of episodes and symptoms, someone who has bipolar psychosis will also experience one or both of the following:

  • Hallucinations: These typically include hearing (auditory) or seeing (visual) things that don’t actually exist. Auditory hallucinations can involve hearing voices, music, or other sounds that have no real source. Common visual hallucinations include seeing light patterns or people that aren’t really there.
  • Delusions: These are firm beliefs that a person will cling to rigidly. This happens even if they can be easily disproven or if they clearly have no foundation in reality. Examples of delusions can include claiming that you are in love with a famous person (even if you’ve never met this individual), thinking that you are being spied on or persecuted, or believing that you are being sent secret coded messages through the television or other forms of mass media.

People who have bipolar psychosis usually experience psychotic symptoms during manic or hypomanic episodes. Since these periods often involve an inflated sense of self-worth, impulsive thinking, and bold predictions for current or future projects, it can sometimes be difficult to differentiate between a “normal” manic episode and a manic episode that is accompanied by psychotic symptoms.

Causes of Psychosis From Bipolar Disorder

Experts have not yet identified a single, definitive cause of bipolar psychosis. However, several factors can increase a person’s risk for developing hallucinations and delusions in addition to the more common bipolar disorder symptoms. These factors may include:

  • Having a first-degree relative (parent or sibling) who also has bipolar disorder
  • Personal history of prior struggles with mental illness and/or addiction
  • Personal history of untreated trauma
  • Having bipolar I or bipolar II disorder, which involve manic or hypomanic episodes
  • Having particularly severe symptoms of bipolar disorder

Treatment Options for Bipolar Psychosis

When you are seeking treatment for bipolar psychosis, it is important to understand the many options that are available to you. There’s no one “perfect” technique or course of treatment that helps everyone who has bipolar psychosis. Instead, you should focus your attention on finding the provider that offers the type care that best aligns with your needs and preferences.

Often, treatment for bipolar psychosis involves a combination of medication and therapy.

The type of prescription medication you receive will depend on the nature and severity of the symptoms you have been experiencing. Antipsychotics, antidepressants, and mood stabilizers are examples of the categories of medications that can be incorporated into treatment for bipolar psychosis.

The therapeutic component of treatment for bipolar psychosis may include services such as the following:

  • Individual, group, and family therapy
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
  • Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT)
  • EMDR therapy 
  • Somatic therapy
  • Holistic therapies
  • Neurofeedback

These therapies and services can help you in many ways, such as:

  • Understanding the root causes of your struggles with bipolar psychosis 
  • Identifying the onset of a manic, hypomanic, or depressive episode
  • Differentiating between hallucinations, delusions, and reality
  • Learning to incorporate self-soothing techniques
  • Developing an effective personal support network
  • Viewing your challenges from a new perspective
  • Replacing self-defeating patterns with healthier ways of thinking and acting
  • Sharing support with others who have had similar struggles

Contact Our Bipolar Psychosis Treatment Center in Malibu, California

Montare at the Canyon is a respected source of personalized mental health services at the inpatient, partial hospitalization, and intensive outpatient levels. 

When you receive care at our bipolar psychosis treatment center in Malibu, California, you will have the opportunity to work in close collaboration with a team of highly skilled and exceptionally dedicated professionals. These experienced caregivers will assess the full scope of your needs. Additionally, we will help you identify short- and long-term goals. Finally, we will help you develop a customized plan to help you live a healthier and more hopeful life. 

To learn more about our programs and services, or to schedule a free assessment, please visit our Contact page or call us today.