Bipolar Disorder

What is Bipolar Disorder?

Bipolar disorder, formerly called manic depression, is a mental illness that causes people to have episodes of severe high and low moods. People who have this illness switch from feeling overly happy and energized to feeling very sad and vice versa. Because of the highs and the lows — or two poles of mood — the condition is referred to as “bipolar” disorder. In between episodes of mood swings, a person may experience normal moods.

The word “manic” describes the periods when the person feels overly excited and confident. These feelings can quickly turn to confusion, irritability, anger, and even rage. The word “depressive” describes the periods when the person feels very sad or depressed. Because the symptoms are similar, sometimes people with bipolar disorder are incorrectly diagnosed as having major depression.  Most individuals with bipolar disorder spend more time in depressed phases than in manic phases.

How Can a Service Dog Assist With Bipolar Disorder Symptoms?

Symptoms Service Dog Task Type of Task
Racing thoughts Tactile stimulation Work and/or physical
Hyper focus Alert to incipient manic episode Work
Hyper locomotion
Olfactory cue
Aggressive driving Alert to aggressive driving Work
Insomnia Remind handler to go to bed Work
Memory loss Remind to take medication Physical
Find keys or telephone Physical
Disorganization Remind handler to perform daily routines Work