Bipolar disorder

"The greatest effectiveness in treatment has been achieved with the combination of psychopharmaceuticals and psychotherapy".


What is bipolar disorder?

Bipolar disorder is a mood disorder, is a chronic and recurrent disease that is manifested mainly by alternating episodes of depressive symptoms (depressive episodes) and periods of mood elevation and increased vitality (manic or hypomanic episodes).

Bipolar disorder typically begins to manifest itself in adolescence, the 3rd or 4th decade of life.

The first episode can be manic, depressive or mixed which will lead this disorder to debut with a certain symptomatology.

In general, manic episodes predominate in youth and early adulthood and depressive episodes predominate in later ages, although first cases of mania have been described above 65 years.

What are the symptoms of bipolar disorder?

There are different types of bipolarity that can manifest themselves in different ways throughout life.

In bipolar disorder type I, manic, depressive and mixed episodes alternate; in bipolar disorder type II, depressive and hypomanic episodes alternate; and in cyclothymia, a milder form of bipolarity, numerous periods of depressive symptoms that do not reach sufficient intensity or criteria of major depression alternate with other periods of hypomanic symptoms.

In the manic episode, typically, a euphoric or irritable mood develops for 1 or 2 weeks, along with other symptoms such as ideas of grandeur, decreased need for sleep, accelerated speech, and hyperactivity.

The manic episodes can also take place with psychotic symptoms (delusions and hallucinations) and behavioral disinhibition that can generate situations of risk for the patient and the people around him.

The most common symptoms are:

  • Manic episodes with euphoria or irritability, ideas of grandeur, accelerated speech, hyperactivity, etc.
  • Depressive episodes with psychomotor retardation and/or hypersomnia, mood swings, etc.

When the disorder begins with a depressive episode, it is common to have a mild depression lasting weeks or months, with psychomotor retardation and/or hypersomnia (not to be confused with a state of laziness). These symptoms then evolve into mania.

During the mixed episode, symptoms of mania such as slurred speech, hyperactivity, and ideas of grandeur coexist with others that appear in major depression such as hopelessness, exaggerated guilt feelings, and suicidal ideation.

Do you have any of these symptoms?

You may have a bipolar disorder

What are the causes of bipolar disorder?

In the cause of bipolar disorder the biological component predominates and a well accepted model explains the disease as a result of the combination of a genetic component with certain adverse life situations that act as triggers.

The effects probably small, additive and interactive of many genes confer a greater personal vulnerability that makes possible that certain situations like stress, the periods of lack of hours of dream or the consumption of drugs or stimulating substances cause an imbalance of neurochemical systems (serotonin, noradrenaline, dopamine, etc.) and probably hormonal that as well cause the psychic and physical symptoms of the disease.

How is bipolar disorder diagnosed?

The diagnosis of bipolar disorder is based on the clinical evaluation by the specialist in Psychiatry. It presents quite characteristic signs and symptoms, which makes it unnecessary, in many cases, to perform any other diagnostic test.

  • Diagnostic interview.
  • If it is suspected that it may have an organic cause, it is advisable to carry out other tests such as magnetic resonance, analytical tests and assessment by other specialists.
  • Psycho diagnostic tests.

How is bipolar disorder treated?

Although at present there is no cure for bipolar disorder, there are specific treatments whose aim is to control the disease in its recurrent aspect, trying to improve and prevent manic and depressive episodes and also to improve chronicity, trying to make the long-term evolution as good as possible.

The treatment will be based on the use of drugs, psychoeducation and psychotherapy in which the patient is helped to know aspects of the form of bipolar disorder that presents and how it affects each person in particular.

Some measures of healthy life style (regularity in the schedule, to take care of the hours of dream, to avoid the consumption of drugs, to make physical exercise, etc.) help to prevent and to control the symptomatology.

Where do we treat it?


The Department of Psychiatry and Medical Psychology of the
of the Clínica Universidad de Navarra

Through a multidisciplinary work, the Department of Psychiatry and Clinical Psychology assists patients in a comprehensive way: it identifies the main causes of the disease and provides an individual approach with the most appropriate and effective treatments. 

Thanks to the experience of its team, it is able to offer the most advanced biological therapies, as well as an adequate psychotherapeutic orientation. In this way, the patient is helped to solve both personality problems and alterations in interpersonal and family dynamics.

Organized in specialized units

Imagen de la fachada de consultas de la sede en Pamplona de la Clínica Universidad de Navarra

Why at the Clinica?

  • Integral evaluation of the patient.
  • Personalized diagnosis.
  • Multidisciplinary team.

Our team of professionals

Psychiatric specialists with experience in the treatment of bipolar disorder