Bipolar Disorder Specialist

Kirsten Thompson, M.D. -  - Psychiatrist

Kirsten Thompson, M.D.

Psychiatrist located in Los Angeles, CA

Kirsten Thompson, MD helps patients from throughout West Los Angeles who live with bipolar disorder from her practice in Brentwood, Los Angeles, California.

Bipolar Disorder Q & A

by Kirsten Thompson, M.D.

What Is Bipolar Disorder?

Bipolar disorder, which is also sometimes called manic depression, is a mental health disorder that causes unusual and extreme shifts in mood, energy levels, and ability to carry out normal daily activities. A patient’s mood may swing from very elated and energized (manic) to very sad and hopeless (depressive). There are 4 main classifications of bipolar disorder including Bipolar I, which is defined by manic episodes that last for at least 7 days or by manic symptoms that require hospitalization. Depressive stages typically last for at least 2 weeks. Bipolar II disorder is characterized by patterns of depressive episodes, but the manic episodes are less extreme than in Bipolar I. Cyclothymia is a form of bipolar where the depressive episodes last for 2 years or more with hypomanic symptoms. In cyclothymia, the symptoms do not fully meet the diagnostic requirements for a full bipolar diagnosis. In some cases, patients may not display symptoms that match the diagnostic requirements for any of the classifications detailed above, and are diagnosed with other specified and unspecified bipolar and related disorders.

What Are the Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder?

Symptoms of bipolar disorder include, but are not limited to:

  • Extreme moods from feeling very up and excited to feeling depressed and hopeless
  • Swinging from very high energy and activity levels to very low
  • Feeling like their thoughts are racing
  • Engaging in risky behaviors
  • Feeling like they can’t enjoy anything
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Eating too much or too little
  • Thoughts of self-harm or suicide

How Is Bipolar Disorder Treated?

Dr. Thompson treats each patient on an individual basis as there is no one size fits all approach to bipolar disorder. She may use a combination of medications, such as mood stabilizers, antidepressants, and atypical antipsychotics, and talk therapies like cognitive behavioral therapy and family focused therapy. Treatment is customized to address the specific needs of each patient following a psychiatric assessment and may evolve over time to continue to meet the needs of the patient.