Information, signs, and symptoms of Bipolar Disorder
Many people are familiar with the term “bipolar” or “Bipolar Disorder.” People are less familiar with the signs and symptoms of the disorder—and therefore what to watch for in themselves or others.
Bipolar Disorder (BD) is a mental condition characterized by dramatic changes in mood, thought patterns, energy levels, and behavior. Also known as manic depression, bipolar disorder’s name refers to how a person’s mood can alternate between the “poles,” or opposite states. The “highs” of bipolar disorder are mania, and the “lows” are depression. Mood changes can be short in duration—lasting just hours—or long, lasting for weeks or months.
Bipolar Disorder onset
Bipolar disease is treatable. It is estimated to affect more than 15 million adult Americans of all ages and ethnic groups. Bipolar disorder usually appears in late adolescence, though it can begin in early childhood or not manifest until later in life. It does tend to run in families, suggesting there may be a genetic link.
Manic and depressive episodes
While men and women are affected equally, bipolar disorder in men tends to begin with a manic episode, and in women with a depressive episode. Furthermore, manic episodes are characterized by intense and lasting energy. For a person in a manic episode, everything is racing quickly. Conversely, in euphoric mania, a person’s energy is very upbeat. On the other hand, in dysphoric mania, the sufferer’s energy is negative, agitated, and possibly aggressive. The symptom of mania that remains constant between both types is a restlessness that defies sleep. So, if a night of sleep is missed, the person doesn’t need to make it up.
There are three types of bipolar disorder, all defined by patterns of behavior and severity of symptoms.
- Bipolar I Disorder is defined by one or more manic episodes—“highs”—lasting at least a week and requiring hospitalization. Consequently, the person’s behavior can cause intense social, professional, and/or financial disruption.
- Bipolar II Disorder involves one or more depressive episode along with one “hypomanic” episode—a period of mania less extreme and shorter in duration than in bipolar I disorder.
- Cyclothymic Disorder manifests as chronic mood fluctuations, but at a less severe level than a full manic or depressive episode.
All people have mood swings, but the severity of mood changes in people with bipolar disorder can disrupt everyday life activities, relationships, and the ability to function.
The symptoms of mania may include:
- An increase in physical and mental activity and energy—cleaning the house frantically, an explosion of creative output
- Exaggerated optimism and confidence
- Increased irritability and aggression
- Decreased need for sleep
- Fast-paced speech, thought, and a spillover of ideas
- Increased sexual appetite
In a depressive episode, symptoms can include:
- Prolonged sadness
- An increase in crying spells
- Changes in appetite and sleeping patterns
- Increased irritability
- Inability to concentrate, lack of focus
- Feelings of guilt
At Guada Psychological Services, I offer individual, group, and video therapy for adolescents and adults struggling with a variety of mental health conditions, including bipolar disorder. My approach to therapy is tailored to each patient. Furthermore, I carefully consider the full context of each patient’s life, so I can help him or her make positive change. As a PsyD, I am trained to see even the most serious cases. Through comprehensive education, deep experience, and enduring human compassion, I build rapport and lasting relationships with each and every one of my patients to provide relief and a brighter future.
To discuss how therapy might help, reach out for a short consultation at 847-797-4699.