5 Types of Bipolar Disorder: Why the Distinction Matters

You have probably heard of the term “bipolar disorder.” Perhaps you know someone who has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, or you think you may experience symptoms of bipolar disorder yourself. Bipolar disorder is a mental health condition that was previously referred to as “manic depressive disorder.”

Types and Prevalence of Bipolar Disorder

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Health Disorders, fifth edition (DSM-5) has classified five types of bipolar disorder, and 2.8% of adults in the United States have been diagnosed with some type of bipolar disorder. The five types of bipolar disorders listed in the DSM-5 are:

  • Bipolar I
  • Bipolar II
  • Cyclothymic disorder
  • Bipolar disorder “other specified”
  • Bipolar disorder “unspecified”

It is important to note that the DSM-5 lists bipolar disorder other specified and bipolar disorder unspecified as two separate diagnoses. However, both conditions represent a diagnosis of bipolar disorder when a person does not meet the criteria for bipolar I, bipolar II, or cyclothymic disorder. You can learn more information about the differences between bipolar I and bipolar II here.

Differences and Commonalities

What makes bipolar disorder distinct from other mental health disorders is its unique symptoms, particularly changes in energy levels, activity levels, and mood. The mood changes can range significantly from periods of intense energy to periods of very low mood. Periods of high energy are referred to as “manic episodes,” and periods of low mood are referred to as “depressive episodes.” Each form of bipolar disorder encompasses these symptoms to some degree; however, distinct differences exist.

Symptoms of mania include:

  • Lessened need for sleep.
  • Feelings of high energy, jumpiness, and irritability.
  • Hyperverbal (i.e., talking very rapidly).
  • Racing thoughts.
  • Trying to do many things at one time.
  • Feelings of grandiosity (i.e., powerful, important).
  • Risky behaviors (e.g., eating too much, using substances excessively, and risky driving).
  • Hallucinations and delusions (e.g, seeing things that don’t exist or believing a reality that doesn’t exist).

Symptoms of hypomania are less severe than mania or manic episodes. They do not include psychosis (e.g., hallucinations and delusions), but they do include:

  • Talkativeness.
  • Lessened need for sleep.
  • Racing thoughts.
  • Increase in goal-directed behaviors.
  • An exaggerated sense of self-esteem.

Symptoms of depression or low mood include:

  • Feelings of hopelessness, sadness, and low mood.
  • Low energy.
  • Weight gain and increased appetite.
  • Slowing down of thoughts.
  • Little interest in once pleasurable activities.
  • Sleep problems (e.g., oversleeping and not sleeping enough).

Distinctions Among the Types of Bipolar Disorders

Bipolar I symptoms include:

  • Manic episodes that last for at least a week or require hospitalization due to the severity of symptoms.
  • Depressive episodes lasting at least two weeks.

Bipolar II symptoms include:

  • Presence of both hypomanic and depressive episodes, but not manic episodes.

Cyclothymic symptoms include:

  • Presence of hypomanic and depressive symptoms lasting at least two years.
  • Symptoms present do not meet the criteria for hypomania and depressive episodes.

Bipolar disorder “other specific” and “unspecified” are used when the individual:

  • Doesn’t meet the criteria for bipolar I, bipolar II, or cyclothymic disorder.
  • Experiences periods of clinically substantial mood disruption and mood elevation.

Treatment Options

Understanding the differences among the types of bipolar diagnosis can help you and your doctor develop an effective treatment plan based on your symptoms and needs. Treatment is tailored to your goals and symptoms. It’s important to remember that everyone responds to treatment differently, so one method may work for one person but not another.

Common treatment options include:

  • Medication such as anti-psychotics, anti-depressants, and mood stabilizers.
  • Talk therapy.
  • Education.
  • Complementary therapies such as meditation, prayer, and exercise.


Bipolar disorder is treatable. If you experience symptoms of bipolar disorder, you are not alone. If you believe you may be experiencing bipolar disorder, talk to your primary care physician and discuss whether telehealth or in-person treatment is best for you. If you have thoughts of suicide, call the national suicide crisis number at 800-273-8255. If you are considering acting on your thoughts, please call 911 or go to your local emergency department to get the support you may need. Valera Health can help you on your personal journey to wellness. We offer psychiatric and therapeutic services through telemedicine for anxiety, depression, ADHD, and bipolar disorder.


  1. https://www.nami.org/About-Mental-Illness/Mental-Health-Conditions/Bipolar-Disorder
  2. https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/bipolar-disorder/
  3. https://www.uofmhealth.org/health-library/aa167947

4 Things to Consider When Undergoing Testing for Bipolar Disorder: What You Need to Know

Bipolar disorder is a clinical diagnosis for a person who experiences significant changes in energy levels, mood, activity levels, and thought processes. Bipolar disorder has historically been called manic-depressive disorder. Five types of bipolar disorder that mental health professionals can diagnose are:

  • Bipolar I
  • Bipolar II
  • Cyclothymic disorder
  • Bipolar disorder “other specific”
  • Bipolar disorder “unspecified.”

You can learn more about the differences between bipolar I and bipolar II disorder here.

Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder

While each type of bipolar disorder has a unique set of symptoms, some commonalities exist. Each type of bipolar disorder is marked by extremely energetic symptoms, also known as manic symptoms, and low symptoms, also known as depression.

Symptoms of mania can include:

  • Feeling on edge or restless.
  • Having a poor appetite.
  • Experiencing decreased need for sleep.
  • Dealing with racing thoughts.
  • Fast talking and rapid speech.
  • Spending a lot of money, driving fast, and overeating.
  • Seeing things that don’t exist (i.e., hallucinations).
  • Believing facts that don’t exist, such as believing you are going to be president of the United States (i.e., delusions).

Symptoms of a depressive episode can include:

  • Having sleep problems (e.g., sleeping too much, or difficulty falling and staying asleep).
  • Experiencing increased appetite.
  • Gaining weight.
  • Feeling sad and hopeless.
  • Having little to no energy.
  • Thinking of death, including thoughts of suicide.
  • Having difficulty concentrating.

Diagnosing Bipolar Disorder

Only a mental health or medical professional can diagnose bipolar disorder. It is also important to examine other factors that can contribute to the symptoms of bipolar disorder, such as medical complications and substance use.

Testing for Bipolar Disorder

Things to consider when testing for bipolar disorder include the following:

  1. Symptoms of bipolar disorder can reflect symptoms of other mental health disorders such as generalized anxiety disorder and major depressive disorder, so it’s important to rule out other possible mental health diagnoses.
  2. Drug and alcohol use can contribute to the development of some of the symptoms of bipolar disorder. For example, the use of hallucinogens such as methamphetamines can cause high energy, rapid speech, and delusions.
  3. Underlying medical problems can influence the presence and development of symptoms of bipolar disorder.
  4. Comprehensive testing for bipolar disorder includes a complete physical exam, medical tests to rule out any other illnesses, and a psychiatric evaluation by a mental health professional.

Bipolar disorder is treatable through interventions such as talk therapy, medication, and other complementary therapies. However, a proper diagnosis is needed to create an effective treatment plan.


If you think you may be experiencing symptoms of bipolar disorder, you are not alone. In fact, 2.3 million Americans have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, and researchers believe the number of people affected is even higher. Bipolar disorder can be managed, and the symptoms can be treated through medical interventions such as therapy and medication. Proper diagnosis is important so an effective treatment plan can be created for you. If you think you may be experiencing symptoms of bipolar disorder, speak to your doctor about whether telehealth or in-person treatment is best for you. If you have thoughts of suicide, call the national suicide crisis number at 800-273-8255. If you are considering acting on your thoughts or have a plan for suicide, please call 911 or go to your local emergency department immediately.

Valera Health offers doctors and therapists through telemedicine that are available to help you navigate your personal journey to improved wellness.


  1. https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/bipolar-disorder/
  2. https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/bipolar-disorder/
  3. https://www.nami.org/Press-Media/Press-Releases/2005/Surveys-Reveal-Gap-in-Understanding-of-Bipolar-Dis

5 Ways You Can Support Someone Who is Experiencing Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder is a diagnosable mental health disorder that affects many people. In fact, bipolar disorder has been diagnosed in more than 2 million adults in the United States, and researchers believe the number of Americans who have bipolar disorder is even higher. However, there are things we can do to help support those who experience bipolar disorder.

What is Bipolar Disorder?

Bipolar disorder is a mental health disorder characterized by intense mood changes, thought processes, and behaviors. The changes in mood can be intense and severe and include patterns of mania and patterns of depression. The 5 types of bipolar disorder are bipolar I, bipolar II, cyclothymic disorder, bipolar disorder “unspecified” and bipolar disorder “otherwise specified”. While there are differences among the types of bipolar disorder, they all encompass symptoms of both mania and depression.

Symptoms of mania include:

  • Racing thoughts.
  • Fast talking.
  • Decreased need for sleep.
  • Thinking and trying to do many things at one time.
  • Excessive behaviors such as eating, sex, and drug and alcohol use.
  • Risky behaviors such as fast driving and overspending.
  • Feeling wired or jumpy.
  • Thoughts of grandiosity, such as thoughts about being the leader of a country and exaggerating your talents and achievements.
  • Psychosis such as hallucinations (seeing things that don’t exist) and delusions (thinking you can read other people’s minds).

Symptoms of depression include:

  • Low energy and lack of motivation.
  • Increased sleep.
  • Increased appetite and weight gain.
  • Difficulty performing normal day-to-day tasks such as showering, doing dishes, and going to work.
  • Feeling hopeless.
  • Thoughts of death and suicide.

5 Things We Can Do to Show Support

1. Remind Yourself that the Behaviors are Symptoms of a Disorder, Not A Personality Trait

Bipolar disorder can impact a person’s behavior and, oftentimes, the behaviors can present negatively. For example, excessive spending, drug and alcohol use, and difficulty adhering to work and personal responsibilities can all be symptoms of bipolar disorder. While difficult to experience and accept at times, these behaviors are not character flaws but are symptoms of a person’s mental health disorder. Work on recognizing that these behaviors are symptoms of an illness and not reflective of a person’s personality or intentions.

2. Take Care of Yourself

If you love someone or care for someone who has a mental illness such as bipolar disorder, be sure to take care of your own physical, mental, and spiritual needs. Engage in pleasurable activities, take breaks throughout your day, eat well, and get adequate rest. This can also include attending support groups and seeking therapy for yourself. You’ve heard the adage about taking care of yourself so that you can support and care for others; this is certainly true when helping someone experiencing mental illness.

3. Make a Plan for Manic Episodes

When your loved one is in a healthy emotional place (not experiencing an episode of mania or depression), discuss the plan for a manic episode. This can look like creating a schedule, identifying healthy creative outlets for energy, and helping with finances and spending. You can start the conversation by asking the person “what would be helpful to you when you notice yourself experiencing symptoms of mania” or “what can I do to help you effectively manage your symptoms when you experience a manic episode?”.

4. Discuss Bipolar Disorder

Having a non-judgmental, listening ear can help your loved one feel supported and safe to discuss any symptoms. It may also help your loved one feel more comfortable asking for help or coming to you when symptoms of a manic or depressive episode begin to occur. It can be helpful to ask the person “How have you managed your symptoms of bipolar disorder so well?” or “What can I do to help you when you are experiencing symptoms?”.

5. Validate Your Loved One’s Thoughts and Emotions

Try to remember that your loved one experiences thoughts and emotions that feel real, even if they aren’t based on facts and reality. For example, disputing the thoughts of people with bipolar disorder and telling them to calm down when they are experiencing intense emotions can escalate symptoms. Instead, try to remain calm during these situations and recognize that their reality is true to them. A validating statement can look like “I see you are experiencing strong emotions right now and that’s okay” or “it makes sense why you think or feel that way”. This normalizes and validates their internal experience (thoughts and emotions).


If you believe you may be experiencing bipolar disorder, talk to your primary care physician and discuss whether telehealth or in-person treatment is best for you. If you have thoughts of suicide, call the national suicide crisis number at 800-273-8255. If you are considering acting on your thoughts, please call 911 or go to your local emergency department to get the support you may need. Medical and mental health professionals can help you manage these symptoms. Getting help can be as easy as contacting Valera Health. We provide psychiatric and mental health telemedicine services to help you pursue your personal journey toward wellness.


  1. https://www.nami.org/Press-Media/Press-Releases/2005/Surveys-Reveal-Gap-in-Understanding-of-Bipolar-Dis
  2. https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/bipolar-disorder/
  3. https://www.nami.org/personal-stories/living-with-someone-with-bipolar-disorder
  4. https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/types-of-mental-health-problems/bipolar-disorder/for-friends-family/

7 Symptoms of ADHD and How to Get Help

Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) affects an estimated 6.1 million youth in the United States, which equates to roughly 9.4% of this population. Of those teens and children, 64% have another mental health disorder, with anxiety, depression, and behavior problems being the most prevalent.

ADHD also affects 4.4% of adults. Many adults who have ADHD don’t know they have it because it went undetected earlier in their lives. If you’re an adult who suspects they may have ADHD, try reviewing and determining whether your symptoms impacted you during childhood and early adulthood, and may have followed you into the present.

Knowing how to spot signs and symptoms of ADHD can help you determine whether you may need professional treatment for this mental health disorder.

Consider getting help today if you think you have any of the following seven symptoms of ADHD.

1. Difficulty Concentrating and Paying Attention

People with ADHD often have difficulty concentrating and paying attention, which is also a common symptom of anxiety. In fact, nearly 50% of adults and 30% of children with ADHD also have an anxiety disorder.

You may have ADHD if you experience these symptoms all the time. If you only experience these symptoms at times you’re feeling anxious, you may have an anxiety disorder.

2. Hyperactivity

Fidgeting, difficulty sitting still, and excessive movement are all symptoms of hyperactivity. These symptoms may occur when a person with ADHD is engaging in tasks they feel are not interesting enough to keep their focus. Many mental health professionals now help people with ADHD to harness their fidgeting and hyperactivity to increase focus and productivity.

3. Difficulty With Communication

ADHD can make it difficult for people with this condition to communicate with others. They may interrupt others without meaning to or miss important details of a conversation. They may also forget what they were going to say or swerve into another area. Struggling with word choice, zoning out during talks, and short conversations are other signs of ADHD that are associated with communication difficulties.

4. Difficulty Completing Tasks That Require Focus

People with ADHD may try to delay or avoid performing tasks that require them to stay focused, such as listening to lectures or doing homework. Their inability to sit still and concentrate can become stressful and overwhelming, which can cause them to leave certain tasks incomplete.

5. Difficulty Being Patient

People with ADHD may experience difficulty when forced to wait their turn, such as when standing in line, speaking, or sitting in traffic. Being patient can often be uncomfortable for people with ADHD. They may need help to practice patience. It is often difficult for people with ADHD to relax and be patient.

6. Daydreaming

Daydreaming tends to be more intense in people with ADHD given how the brain has difficulty transitioning from one task to another. People without ADHD can often easily stop daydreaming right away, while people with ADHD may have difficulty refocusing their attention.

7. Excessively Talking

Westend61 / Getty Images

Excessive talking in ADHD occurs on behalf of hyperactivity and impulsivity and is often difficult to control. People with ADHD often do not realize they have taken over conversations and may also talk a lot because they have difficulty focusing on what others are saying.

Getting Help For ADHD

If you think a loved one may have ADHD, see your pediatrician or family doctor right away for an evaluation. Your doctor may refer you to a psychiatrist or another mental health professional who can properly diagnose and treat the condition. Treatments for ADHD can help your loved one effectively manage their symptoms.

Could You Have ADHD? Signs It’s Time To See a Doctor

Valera Health provides tele-mental health care in the form of therapy and psychiatry services for those who suffer from mental health disorders including ADHD, depression, and bipolar disorder. Request a consultation with us today and get started on your personal journey to improved mental wellness.


  1. https://www.cdc.gov/NCBDDD/adhd/data.html
  2. https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/adhd/diagnosis.html
  3. https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/attention-deficit-hyperactivity-disorder-adhd.shtml
  4. https://chadd.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/coexisting.pdf
  5. https://adaa.org/understanding-anxiety/related-illnesses/other-related-conditions/adult-adhd

5 Reasons Why Inclusivity in Mental Health is So Important

Within society, you have probably heard the terms inclusivity and diversity used more frequently, and for very good reason. Respecting the culture, ethnicity, values, ability, and religious beliefs of different groups of people benefits everyone as individuals and as members of society. This is particularly true when it comes to your physical health, mental health, and wellness.

What Do Diversity and Inclusivity Mean?

Diversity and inclusivity reference the same concept: acceptance and respect of everyone, regardless of age, skin color, physical ability, sexual orientation, religion, and gender identification. However, the terms are distinctly different. Diversity refers to a group of people with a wide range of demographic, political, philosophical, religious, and ethnic differences.

Diversity can be thought of as the “what.” Inclusion can be thought of as the action or the “how.” Inclusion refers to the action steps taken to intentionally include people of different backgrounds, ethnicities, demographics, abilities, and religious beliefs. You can think of it as including people regardless of where they come from, their physical abilities, how they identify, and what they believe while respecting and accepting them as human beings.

Why Inclusivity in Mental Health Care Is So Important?

  1. They allow you access to essential healthcare services like therapy and medication by having therapists and doctors available from various backgrounds and demographics.
  2. They encourage effective problem-solving efforts. This can mean more effective and efficient services for you and an overall better therapeutic experience.
  3. They provide you with options. Having options can help you feel empowered to make your own decisions about your healthcare.
  4. They improve employee morale. Feeling respected, accepted, and included can increase motivation and improve productivity at work. This can, in turn, improve motivation and morale, which can translate into effective therapy and patient care for you.
  5. They facilitate increased trust in the therapy room. When you feel respected, heard, and valued by your therapist, you are more willing to open up and be honest. Having a positive rapport with your therapist can help you reach your therapeutic goals.

What Do Diversity and Inclusivity Look Like in Therapy?

Talking to a professional counselor, psychologist, or therapist can be one of the most rewarding experiences of your life. Your mind and body connection is an important part of your overall health. Incorporating diversity and inclusivity in therapy is important for effective therapy. Honoring diversity and inclusivity, as a therapist, can look as follows:

  • A willingness to learn about cultures, ethnicities, religions, and demographics that are different from their own.
  • Eliminating judgments, stereotypes, and bias through education and professional development.
  • Attending continued learning courses about inequality and social injustices that groups of people experience.

This can have a direct impact on your experience as a patient. If a therapist is nonjudgmental, doesn’t support stereotypes, and has professional education in diversity, you benefit. You may feel accepted, included, and feel more comfortable expressing yourself genuinely in therapy.

As a patient, it is of the utmost importance that you feel accepted and empowered along your therapeutic journey. Being able to choose your therapist based on your specific needs and background is important. 

How Can You Tell if You Have a Therapist who is Committed to Inclusive Care?

Having a therapist who is committed to providing inclusive care can be the key element for an effective and successful therapeutic experience. An inclusive therapist will:

  • Ask about your background, ethnicity, religious beliefs, and values that are important to you.
  • Build upon your strengths and appreciate your beliefs.
  • Engage in healthy verbal and non-verbal communication with you such as making eye contact and asking follow-up questions to clarify something you have said.
  • Show openness to receiving feedback from you to help improve communication and develop trust. They will ask you if there is anything they can do differently to make you feel more comfortable.
  • Inquire and respect your pronouns.


The experience of bias, racism, and prejudice can negatively impact your mental health. In addition, fear of  experiencing bias, prejudice, and being misunderstood is a barrier to getting mental healthcare for a lot of people . If you are experiencing symptoms of depression and anxiety or perhaps your are searching  for support along your personal journey, Valera Health can help. At Valera Health, we provide comprehensive tele-mental health care that includes therapy and psychiatry services that are focused on you and your unique needs.



5 Ways the Mind and Body Are Connected and How to Use It to Your Advantage

The connection between your mind and body can’t be denied. The mind refers to the thoughts, feelings, beliefs, and images that we experience. These things have an impact on your body’s physical state and well-being. You are physically affected (through body sensations and functioning) by what goes on in your mind. For example, your heart rate may increase when you experience feelings of anxiety when you have to make a speech in front of other people or when you do something for the first time.

How Does It Work?

How you think can directly affect how you feel physically, and how you feel physically can directly affect how you think and feel mentally. For example, if you have chronic back pain, you may be more vulnerable to feelings of irritability or frustration. In this instance, your body’s physical issues are affecting your feelings and thoughts.

Conversely, your thoughts and feelings can affect how you feel physically. For example, if you are constantly worrying and stressing about finances, your body responds through muscle aches and pains. It is helpful to think about your mind and body as being in constant communication with one another.

5 Ways the Mind and Body Are Connected

When you experience emotions, your brain sends signals to your body, and your body responds accordingly. Your body’s response to the brain’s signal is referred to as action urges. These urges can be unconscious, so you don’t necessarily think about how your body is responding. Also, when you experience problems with your physical body, your thoughts, feelings, and beliefs are affected. Below are 5 ways your mind and body are connected.

  1. Stress and the fight or flight response: When you experience the emotion of stress, your body engages in the fight or flight response. This feels like your heart may beat right out of your chest, you are breathing so fast you can’t catch your breath, and it is difficult to move because of your muscle aches. This physical response helps us defend ourselves and avoid danger.
  2. Chronic pain and depression: Studies show that people who experience chronic pain are at risk for experiencing feelings of depression and sadness which can make it difficult to get out of bed, complete normal tasks, and feelings of hopelessness.
  3. Anxiety and eating (overeating and undereating): When you experience the emotion of anxiety, your urge may be to use food as a source of comfort to help reduce your feelings of anxiety, which can cause you to eat even when you are full. Conversely, anxiety can cause an upset stomach and other gastrointestinal issues that may contribute to a reduction in appetite, which can lead you to undereat.
  4. Anger and aggression: Anger is an emotion that exists to help protect you. Anger is part of your survival instincts, and it serves the purpose of protecting you when you are experiencing a threat to your safety. When you experience anger, the mind sends the body a message to prepare for fleeing or fighting by sending blood and other chemicals to your muscles. Clenching your fists and grinding your teeth are the body’s physical responses to the emotion of anger.
  5. Experiencing more positive emotions can improve physical health: Studies show that people who experience more happiness and joy have healthier blood sugar levels, healthier weight, have lower blood pressure, and have a reduced risk of heart disease compared to people who experience more negative emotions (anger, sadness, anxiety, fear).

How to Use It to Your Advantage

Having an awareness of your body’s physical response to your emotions can help you engage in the opposite action. Opposite action is when you act opposite of your physical urge. For example, when you experience anger and notice yourself clenching your fists, open your hands with your palms facing up. This interrupts the mind-body connection and can help reduce the intensity of your anger and prevent you from reacting to your anger. When you are experiencing depression, your urge may be to withdraw or isolate. In this case, the opposite action would be to gently approach the situation you are trying to withdraw from. For example, if your urge is to avoid going to the family get-together, the opposite action would be to go to the event, at least for a short time. Surrounding yourself with loved ones can help improve your mood and even reduce feelings of depression.

Talk to your doctor about any physical problems you may be experiencing. If you are experiencing mood or mental health issues, Valera Health can help on your personal journey with mind and body wellness. Valera Health offers psychiatric and therapeutic services through telemedicine.



Is It Time to Start Therapy? Here Are 5 Signs the Answer Is Yes

One in five Americans experiences a mental health disorder such as anxiety, depression, and bipolar disorder. Unfortunately, 60% of adults with mental health conditions do not receive the professional treatment they need from therapists who can help them manage their symptoms.

However, not everyone who needs therapy has a mental health condition. Therapy can benefit anyone who may need help and guidance on how to face and overcome difficult times and situations.

Do you think you may need therapy? Here are 5 signs that indicate you can benefit from seeing a therapist to guide you along your personal journey to improved mental wellness.

1. You’ve Been Feeling Less Like Yourself

You may need therapy if it’s easy for you to focus on your issues so much that it starts interfering with your usual activities and interests. You may start withdrawing from family and friends, or be less productive at work. You may get less sleep, stop going to the gym, and stop engaging in hobbies that usually bring you joy.

If you’ve been feeling less like yourself lately and experiencing feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and anger, consider meeting with a therapist. These feelings may be related to changes in your life, the inability to freely express yourself, or symptoms of a mental health disorder. Regardless of the reason, speaking to someone can often provide you with more clarity regarding what you may need and allow you to determine your next steps.

2. You’re Using Unhealthy Coping Methods

When facing difficult times or when experiencing stress or depression, you may find yourself reaching for unhealthy or unhelpful coping supports such as alcohol and drugs to make yourself feel better. It’s okay, as managing difficult emotions can be extremely challenging. This is where a therapist can help you identify and address the root causes of your problems, and work with you to develop healthier coping methods.

3. You’ve Experienced a Trauma

Experiencing some fear or anxiety for a short time following trauma is expected, but if these symptoms do not go away after about one month, you may benefit from talk therapy. Examples of traumatic events include domestic or family violence, sexual assault, or a car accident. Talk therapy can help you feel better if you have recently witnessed or experienced a traumatic event, as it teaches you how to approach and change upsetting emotions, thoughts, and memories related to the event. Many therapists are trained to help you face and cope with your trauma.

4. You’ve Experienced a Significant Loss

Experiencing grief after losing a loved one or something extremely important to you, such as a home or job, is expected and an inevitable part of life. However, it may be difficult to sit in the loss, process it, and begin the journey to healing all on your own. Any type of loss can feel incredibly isolating. Therapy can provide the support and time to grieve in a way that is genuine and restorative to you.

5. You Want to Improve Your Communication Skills

Great communication skills don’t come naturally to everyone and sometimes require months or years of education, training, and experience to become good at it. If you’ve realized that you have difficulty communicating with partners, relatives, and coworkers, getting help in the form of therapy may be your ideal solution. Therapy can help you identify why you may be struggling with communication and can help you develop healthier communication skills.

Therapy gives you a safe space where you can talk freely about your thoughts, feelings, and worries without judgment, and helps you develop strong coping skills you can apply in many situations. Therapy can also help you change unwanted habits and teach you how to practice self-reflection and self-love.

Valera Health provides tele-mental health care to people with mental health disorders including ADHD, depression, and anxiety. Our services can also benefit those who simply want to improve their mental wellness. Request a consultation with us today to learn more about your available treatment options.


  1. https://www.nami.org/nami/media/nami-media/infographics/generalmhfacts.pdf
  2. https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/post-traumatic-stress-disorder-ptsd/index.shtml

Discrimination and Mental Illness: How Racism, Sexism, Homophobia, and Transphobia Affect Your Mental Health

Discrimination doesn’t always look the same, and there’s no textbook definition for how someone reacts to experiencing it. Racism, sexism, homophobia, and transphobia increase the risk of developing mental health disorders or making them worse while making it harder for people to get help.

When offering resources to members of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) communities and LGBTQ people, we need to understand that we can’t fix trauma associated with discrimination overnight. The problem is systemic, and providing safe resources also means doing the work to advocate for people experiencing discrimination.

What’s the Connection Between Racism and Mental Health?

Racism is designed to create inequalities based on beliefs and stereotypes about a whole group of people. But targeting a whole group impacts people on large and small scales. Racism causes trauma, and trauma increases a person’s likelihood of developing mental illness and struggling with mental health.

Trauma causes a stress response, which creates both physical and mental symptoms that can develop into long-term mental health conditions like anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and others. It also affects the way you look at yourself and experience the world around you.

Racism is twice as likely to harm someone’s mental health as their physical health. And yet, because of racism, BIPOC people often don’t get the care they need for their mental health.

We see it in Asian American populations where the “model minority” myth makes it harder to recognize the signs of mental illness. By creating an unrealistic and harmful standard for Asian American people—particularly Asian American youth—it becomes harder for them to get a diagnosis if they are under pressure to be smarter and more accomplished than other groups. The model minority myth creates an incorrect perception of Asian Americans’ mental health needs, even among mental health professionals, by placing higher expectations on people of these communities.

Black men are four times more likely to get a schizophrenia diagnosis than white men when they show symptoms of a mood disorder. Stereotypes that portray Black men as violent, for example, make it harder for them to get an accurate mental health diagnosis when a therapist or psychiatrist has a preconceived idea of who they are. Similarly, stereotypes about the “loud Black woman” portray Black women as hysterical, which can lead them to downplay their feelings, especially outside of a trusted group.

Racism creates chronic stress that leads to anxiety, depression, and other mental illnesses that severely impact a person’s overall wellness. BIPOC people who have mental health conditions like bipolar disorder, ADHD, and others are often passed over or judged more harshly than white people with the same diagnoses. Institutionalized and internalized racism makes it more difficult for BIPOC people to get help and feel comfortable and worthy of seeking mental healthcare in the first place.

How Do Homophobia, Transphobia, and Gender Discrimination Impact Mental Health?

For a lot of people in the LGBTQ+ community, discovering their identities is a journey. Without support, they can develop internalized homophobia and transphobia that leads to anxiety, depression, and other mental health struggles.

While 4.5% of the United States population identifies as LGBTQ+, 39% of people within the community have experienced bullying because of their sexuality or gender identity, according to Mental Health America. As a result, LGBTQ+ people are also 2.5 times more likely to seek mental health services.

Bullying because of their sexuality and gender identity can contribute to abnormally high cortisol—or stress hormone—levels. Plus, when LGBTQ+ people don’t have support from family members, teachers, friends, and others close to them, it’s not easy to feel safe sharing who they are and asking questions about their identities.

Pressure to hide those identities contributes to poor mental health when they can’t express the person they truly are. That leads to fear, distrust, and consistent stress that, even if the person isn’t already at risk of mental illness, can quickly lead to problems with mental health.

Beyond bullying, rules and regulations prevent LGBTQ+ people from getting their basic needs met on a larger scale. For example, there are few doctors and clinicians trained to understand the unique needs of people in the LGBTQ+ community, which leads to people not getting proper care, facing medical discrimination, or avoiding seeking care altogether out of fear.

Official policies and laws prevent many LGBTQ+ people from expressing their identities or having those identities acknowledged by others. While laws discriminating against LGBTQ+ people aren’t new, the first few months of 2021 have seen 14 states propose anti-LGBTQ+ bills. These types of laws make it possible for workplaces, schools, and other facilities to discriminate against LGBTQ+ people based on their identities. Many places within and outside the United States already have laws that do not allow nonbinary and transgender people to be addressed by their correct pronouns or names. The laws also prevent people of certain genders from participating in activities like school sports based on whether their gender matches their assigned sex at birth.

It’s important to understand what it means to have multiple marginalizations and intersectional identities, too. Black and Brown trans people are at a much higher risk of violence than white trans people, adding another layer both to their identity and to mental health risk factors. When people target you based on multiple facets of who you are, it only increases the mental health impact.

What Can We Do About It?

Racism, sexism, homophobia, and transphobia all make healthcare less accessible to those who need it. It also raises questions of who understands every part of who you are.

We must actively fight racism, gender discrimination, homophobia, and transphobia. We can’t only be non-racist or passively view these things as wrong without being complicit in letting them continue. We must do more than acknowledge our privilege and biases and instead use that privilege to make more resources available to others while breaking down our biases and those of others.

Therapy goes hand in hand with social justice. Valera Health knows that, and we incorporate that into our practice to allow for a personal journey with each person. We hold space for people in all communities as we continue to educate ourselves and others to make it easier for BIPOC, LGBTQ+, and other marginalized communities to get the mental health services they need.

Understanding the Difference Between Bipolar I and Bipolar II Disorder

Each year, more than 3.3 million Americans experience bipolar disorder. Knowing the difference between Bipolar I and Bipolar II Disorder can help you gain a better understanding of this condition, especially if your loved one has bipolar disorder or you think you may have it.

Here’s a look at how these two types differ from one another and where you can find treatment for bipolar disorder today.

What Is Bipolar Disorder?

Bipolar disorder is a mental health disorder that causes people to experience extreme mood swings. People with bipolar disorder will experience periods of emotional highs and lows known as episodes.

Periods of emotional highs are known as “mania” and include symptoms of extreme happiness (euphoria), high energy, increased confidence, and talkativeness. Periods of emotional lows are known as depression and include symptoms of sadness, low energy, guilt, hopelessness, and suicidal thoughts.

Scientists do not know the true cause of bipolar disorder but suspect it may be caused by physical changes in the brain, genetics, and the environment. Children may develop bipolar disorder if one of their parents or a sibling has it. Bipolar disorder may also be triggered by substance abuse or a major life event such as a trauma.

How Are Bipolar I and Bipolar II Disorder Different?

The episodes of mania in Bipolar I Disorder are often more severe than the episodes of mania in Bipolar II Disorder. People experiencing Bipolar I may engage in behaviors that are extremely harmful to their well-being, such as spending lots of money on things they don’t need or having unsafe sex with multiple partners. In comparison, the episodes of mania in Bipolar II Disorder are often less severe and less noticeable.

People with Bipolar II Disorder may not experience episodes of major depression. They may feel more sad than usual, but their sadness and other depression symptoms will not often disrupt their usual daily activities. In comparison, people with Bipolar I Disorder may experience major depressive episodes that are severe and increase the risk of hospitalization and suicide.

What Are Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder?

Type I and type II bipolar disorder both produce symptoms of mania and depression. Ask yourself the following questions to determine whether you or a loved one may have bipolar disorder.

  • Have you ever felt so happy or hyper that other people thought you were not your normal self?
  • Do you ever find that you get much less sleep than usual, but didn’t really miss it?
  • Are there times you are much more social or outgoing than usual? For example, have you ever called your friends in the middle of the night?
  • Are there times you engage in lots of risky behaviors, such as having unsafe sex or abusing drugs and alcohol?
  • Do you ever become extremely irritable for no obvious reason, and start fights with friends and family?
  • Do you ever experience extreme fluctuations in your appetite or weight?
  • Do thoughts of suicide ever enter your mind, or have you ever attempted suicide?

If you answered yes to several of these questions, it’s important to speak to your doctor about your symptoms.

How Are Bipolar I and Bipolar II Disorder Treated?

Talk therapy and medications are common treatments for Bipolar I and Bipolar II disorder. Talk therapy can teach you how to manage your symptoms, such as how to effectively handle stress and develop a healthy sleep routine. Medications including antidepressants and antipsychotics may help reduce symptoms of depression.

If you believe you may be experiencing bipolar disorder, talk to your primary care physician and discuss whether tele-health or in-person treatment is best for you. If you have thoughts of suicide, call the national suicide crisis number at 800-273-8255. If you are considering acting on your thoughts, please call 911 or go to your local Emergency Department to get the support you may need.

Valera Health provides tele-mental health care to people with mental health disorders including bipolar disorder, ADHD, and anxiety disorders. Request a consultation with us today and get started on your personal journey to improved health and wellness.


  1. https://screening.mhanational.org/screening-tools/bipolar/
  2. https://mhanational.org/conditions/bipolar-disorder
  3. https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/bipolar-disorder.shtml
  4. https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/what-is-hypomania

6 Warning Signs of Anxiety and When to Get Help

Anxiety is a common mental health disorder today. Maybe you have been experiencing symptoms of anxiety for years, or perhaps your anxiety emerged as a result of a global pandemic, social divide, and other environmental factors. Often our experience of anxiety is very internally disruptive but invisible to others. We may hesitate to tell others about what we are going through out of fear of being judged, thoughts that we have failed in some way, or beliefs that if we ignore the feelings of anxiety that it will just go away.

If you have noticed your anxiety increase, regardless of the reason, you are not alone. Anxiety disorders are one the most common mental health disorders today with more than 40 million adults in the United States meeting the diagnostic criteria. Anxiety and stress are normal responses to life’s stressors, and a number of factors contribute to the development of anxiety—difficult life experiences, personality traits, family history of mental health disorders, and physical health. During moments of high distress, it may seem as though the physical sensations of anxiety will never go away; however, research shows us that anxiety is treatable and the feelings we experience are temporary.

Different Types of Anxiety Disorders

There are a number of different anxiety disorders including generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), panic attacks, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The different types of anxiety disorders share some commonalities which can include symptoms such as racing heart, sweating, and racing thoughts. There are some differences in the experience of anxiety among the different anxiety disorders. People with panic disorder feel as if they are in sudden danger, feel helpless, and feel as if they are losing control even though there is no real threat or danger. A panic attack can last for several minutes and can occur at random. Generalized anxiety refers to a persistent feeling of worry. PTSD is generally a result of experiencing a traumatic event. PTSD refers to the intense and uncomfortable thoughts and feelings related to the traumatic experience. OCD refers to the unwanted thoughts and emotions that cause a person to engage in a behavior repetitively.

What Does Anxiety Look and Feel Like?

Symptoms of anxiety can be both physical and psychological. Many of us know that feeling when we are about to give a presentation in front of a group of people, take a test, or meet someone for the first time. While our triggers to anxiety symptoms may be different, it is highly likely that we have all experienced anxiety at some point in our lives. Anxiety isn’t all bad as it does serve a purpose in helping alert us to threats and helping us prepare for important moments in our lives. However, if anxiety increases in severity and duration and begins to cause problems in your life, your anxiety may be at an unhealthy level.

Here are six common warning signs of anxiety.

1.     Difficulty Sleeping

Difficulty sleeping is a warning sign that can look different for each person. You may find yourself thinking about the past or the future as you lay in bed, preventing you from falling asleep. Or perhaps, you may notice that you are waking up every 3 to 4 hours and cannot easily fall back asleep. In both situations, it is common to begin to worry about what will happen the next day if you can’t get to a restful night’s sleep.

2.     Lack of Concentration

You are having a hard time concentrating and following through with things at home, work, school, and in relationships. You may miss important deadlines, overlook key details, and fail to follow through with important obligations. It can look like slipping grades and poor performance at work.

3.     Being Easily Irritated

You notice you are on edge, restless, and are easily irritated. You often find yourself in disagreements with loved ones and co-workers over small instances such as someone’s loud chewing or that they did something differently than what you would have done.

4.     Feeling Tired

You feel tired easily and experience more fatigue with anxiety. Your energy level is low, causing you to struggle to find the motivation to complete simple tasks like getting out of bed in the morning and doing laundry. Coffee and other caffeinated beverages are no longer doing the trick and giving you the burst of energy you need. Maybe your laundry has been piling up or you have missed several days of work due to fatigue.

5.     Intense and Prolonged Worry

Anxiety may cause you to have a hard time controlling worried thoughts. Your mind can race with “what if” thoughts about the future such as “what if I fail”, “what if they don’t like me”, and “what if I’m not good enough”.

6.     Fast Heartbeat

If you are experiencing feelings of anxiety, your heart may beat really fast. You may check your pulse and notice your heartbeat increasing and your mind jumps to the worst-case scenario about your increased heart rate.

When to Get Help

Here are some questions to consider to help you determine if you should seek help for your anxiety:

  • Am I avoiding activities, people, and places that remind me of a time I experienced a panic attack?
  • Has my anxiety contributed to conflict in any of my relationships with loved ones?
  • Have I missed important family, work, and school responsibilities because of my anxiety?
  • Have I tried to control or manage my anxiety in other ways without success?

If you answered yes to any of these questions or if you want to talk to someone about your anxiety symptoms, help is available. Many people may be hesitant to get help for a number of reasons including not knowing where to turn for help, feeling shame or embarrassment about anxiety, or confusion about their insurance coverage. A good place to start can be to talk with your doctor or medical professional. If you are confused about your insurance, you can call the number on the back of your card to determine your coverage and identify treatment locations that accept your insurance provider. Anxiety can be treated by medical and mental health professionals.

Valera Health offers therapy and psychiatric services via telehealth so you can receive the mental healthcare you need from the comfort of your home. We can help you on your personal journey to get treatment for anxiety.


  1. https://www.nami.org/About-Mental-Illness/Mental-Health-Conditions/Anxiety-Disorders#:~:text=Anxiety%20disorders%20are%20the%20most,develop%20symptoms%20before%20age%2021.
  2. https://www.beyondblue.org.au/the-facts/anxiety/what-causes-anxiety
  3. https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/panic-disorder-when-fear-overwhelms/index.shtml
  4. https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/sites/default/files/living-with-anxiety-report.pdf
  5. https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/anxiety-disorders/index.shtml