Bipolar Disorder: Finding Strength Through Art

Bipolar disorder, much like other mental illnesses, is misunderstood and stigmatized. The general belief of bipolar disorders is that the person that suffers from it has a quick change of mood, like in minutes. Others may believe that the person may have multiple personalities and that is why they change from feeling happy and sad. However, bipolar disorder is much more complex than that, rendering both stereotypes null.

Bipolar disorder 1 is characterized by a manic episode that causes the client to have feelings of grandeur, elation, paranoia and/or breaks of reality. Bipolar disorder 1 can be experience with our without depression. Bipolar disorder 2 is characterized by hypo-manic episodes (lower scale manic episodes that last for less time than manic episodes), and depressive episodes. Each episode can last between one week to 4 weeks, depending on how severe and untreated the disorder is. The changes in mood do not happen in minutes or hours but rather each episode takes a week or more to happen.

Bipolar disorder, like other metal illnesses, does not have a cure. However, it can be treated in a way that the client may regain self-control over their moods, and learn how to cope through their changing moods. Clients are taught different self-regulation techniques as well as healthy coping skills. Aside from psychotherapy, clients are provided with psychoeducational materials to help them understand what they are going through and how to continue with their lives in a healthy manner. Psychoeducational materials are also given to their family members to help them understand what the client is going through and how to best support them. Other interventions include mood calendars (which helps the client track their mood changes), exercise and art-based therapies.

Art-based therapies can work as self-care for the client and as a support intervention in therapy. Art-based interventions are a great way to turn manic energy, which can be toxic, into a healthy way to control and manage energy. Art-based interventions also work for clients who are experiencing depression by becoming an outlet for repressed emotions and their current state of mind. In both instances, art-based interventions help the client create a visual journal of their disorder and mood changes.

For more information on Bipolar disorder, it symptoms, types and resources, please visit the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance. There is also the Mayo Clinic website, which has the DSM-5 criteria’s for diagnosis, causes, symptoms, risk factors, consequences

Bipolar disorder can be treated and clients can live a healthy and happy life. However, it all starts with getting help.

Signing off,



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