Defense Mechanisms Used in Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder is a condition where the person experiences a feeling of extreme changes in mood swings. These mood swings, which are called “mood episodes,” are classified into four types. Bipolar disorder can sometimes be hard to detect because its symptoms may look similar to that of other mood disorders. Those suffering from this disorder may use defense mechanisms in an attempt to keep away from dealing with the symptoms of such a disorder.


Denial is perhaps the most common form of defense mechanism used in bipolar disorder and in many personality or mood disorders. A person who is in a state of denial may refuse to admit that something is wrong and choose instead to believe that he is acting normally.


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Projection is another defense mechanism where an individual feels or chooses to believe that others are experiencing the feelings rather than her. In this type of defense mechanism, the person dealing with bipolar disorder knows that something is wrong but tends to blame others for his unpleasant mood swings.


In this type of defense mechanism, the person tends to make excuses for unpleasant actions. The individual may try to defend those actions by giving reasons as explanations or justifications for such behavior. This defense mechanism urges the person to invent thoughts as a defense against extreme painful emotions.


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Intellectualization is related to rationalization. In this defense mechanism, the individual may also tend to invent thoughts as a buffer to the painful emotions felt. The person may formulate a cognitive analysis of what had occurred and insulate those feelings against the particular event that actually triggered such extreme emotions.


Sublimation is another type of defense mechanism used by those suffering from bipolar disorder or other types of personality disorders. Using this mechanism, the person experiencing extreme mood swings may direct energy away from the feelings building up inside and instead put this energy into something productive or life-giving such as helping others, instead of focusing on himself. Such individuals may also pour this energy into various forms of art, such as music, drawing, writing and painting.