Bipolar Disorder: 16 Typical Symptoms To Look Out For

Bipolar disorder (formerly known as “manic depression”) is a disorder in which you experience dramatic shifts in mood, thinking, and energy levels. It’s estimated that about 2.6 percent of Americans are living with bipolar disorder. Without proper treatment, the condition can get worse and have a significant negative impact on the quality of your life.

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It’s important to know how to recognize bipolar disorder in case you or your loved one has the condition and get professional treatment. Treatment works for most people with the condition.

In people with bipolar disorder, episodes of mania and depression alternate. Symptoms may last for an indefinite length of time and then go away completely, only to return later. Everyone with bipolar disorder experiences it differently, but there are some general signs and symptoms that indicate a person may have the condition.

Below are some symptoms of mania and depression.

8 symptoms of mania and hypomania

Mania usually manifests in the following ways:

  • needing less sleep;
  • feeling very energetic and having bursts of activity;
  • feeling overly happy, excited, and hopeful, which may suddenly change to anger and irritability;
  • trying to do a lot of things at once;
  • being very talkative, talking fast, quickly changing the subject of the conversation;
  • feeling like your thoughts are racing;
  • decreased ability to concentrate;
  • engaging in risky and irrational activities and behaviors, e.g. drunk driving, gambling, and shopping sprees.

During a hypomanic episode, people don’t lose touch with reality. But some people who are experiencing mania may have delusions and hallucinations.

Very often, people don’t seek help during manic episodes because they feel more energetic and productive than usual; who would think it’s a disadvantage?

8 symptoms of depression

Episodes of depression usually come after manic episodes.

During an episode of depression you may have the following signs and symptoms:

  • trouble sleeping or sleeping more than usual;
  • apathy, lack of energy, being less active;
  • feeling very sad, hopeless, and empty;
  • feeling anxious;
  • increased appetite or lack of appetite;
  • feeling guilty and worthless;
  • problems with memory and concentration;
  • thoughts about death and suicide.

People with bipolar disorder are more likely to acknowledge that they need help when they are experiencing an episode of depression. Bipolar disorder is sometimes mistakenly diagnosed as unipolar depression (just depression without mania).

Bipolar disorder is usually treated with medicines and talk therapy. If psychotherapy and drugs didn’t work, a more radical treatment (such as electroconvulsive therapy) may be used.

If you suspect that you or your loved one may have bipolar disorder, consult a mental health professional. There’s no need to suffer in silence.

NIMH, American Psychiatric Association, Mayo Clinic, WebMD, HealthLine

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