Signs and Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder is characterized by certain specific signs and symptoms, but it is important to recognize that its manifestation can vary considerably from person to person. For example, there are four types of mood episodes that can occur in bipolar disorder (mania, hypomania, depression, and mixed episodes), and some people are more prone to certain types of episodes than others. Additionally, the duration, severity, and frequency of mood disruptions can be very different in different people. However, each type of mood episode has characteristic signs and symptoms that you can look for.

Recognizing Mania

Common symptoms include:

  • A lot of energy, euphoria, and little need for sleep
  • Hyperactivity, rapid speech, and jumping from idea to idea
  • Feeling invincible, omnipotent, or destined for great things
  • Reckless actions, such as promiscuity, gambling, or shopping sprees
  • Irritability, anger, and aggressiveness

Recognizing Hypomania

Symptoms of hypomania are very similar to those of mania, but are less severe. They include euphoria, increased energy, irritability, rapid speech, and flying from one idea to another. While less extreme than full-blown mania, these hypomanic symptoms can also lead to impulsive and risky behaviors.

Recognizing Depression

Common symptoms include:

  • Feeling sad, hopeless, worried, or empty
  • Loss of interest in once enjoyable activities
  • Difficulty concentrating and making decisions
  • Tiredness and mental sluggishness
  • Irritability or restlessness
  • Changes in appetite and sleep habits
  • Thoughts of death or suicide

Recognizing Mixed Episodes

Mixed episodes include symptoms of both mania and depression--a low or depressed mood coupled with high energy. A person in a mixed state may experience agitation, irritability, trouble sleeping, major appetite changes, racing thoughts, and suicidal thinking.

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