We all experience mood swings, the highs and lows that cause us to feel happy one moment and alternately sad the next. For someone with Bipolar Disorder, these changes in mood can last for weeks and range from extreme periods of energy to lethargy and self-doubt. During hypomania, some individuals may become more creative, but others may experience more reckless behavior.

What Is Bipolar Disorder?

Bipolar Disorder is also known as manic-depressive disorder, a diagnosis given to a category of mood disorders that influence mood and affects about 6.1 million adults each year (National Institute of Mental Health). Bipolar Disorder is manageable with treatment, but without treatment, it can be incapacitating.

Bipolar Disorder is often inherited, and some people have been known to develop it after a head injury. It has also been linked to thyroid disease. Regardless of the cause, the symptoms are often difficult for others to understand.

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Mood Shifts of Bipolar Disorder

Individuals with Bipolar Disorder have no control over the extreme shifts in mood that they experience. Shifts in mood can go from severe depression to complete mania, as well as milder symptoms of both extremes.

During a milder manic phase (hypomania), individuals often report an ability to be more creative and fuller of ideas but as the symptoms increase, the ideas can come too quickly, and they can become agitated and enraged. They may also sleep less and may feel indestructible. A manic phase will last a week or more and co-exist with at least three other symptoms of mania.

Many individuals with Bipolar Disorder will lapse into a depression following a manic phase. The depression they experience can be so disabling and pervasive that they may refuse to get out of bed. The shift in behavior is often confusing because it is so dramatically different from their earlier elevated state.

Bipolar I Disorder, also referred to as manic depression, causes individuals to experience the extreme highs along with the lows and may suffer from hallucinations and/or delusions, as well. However, those with Bipolar II Disorder suffer more depression and do not experience the extreme highs in their mood, but instead have “hypomania,” which is a milder form of mania without the psychotic features.

Signs and Symptoms of a Manic or Hypomanic Episode

  • Increased energy
  • Pressured speech
  • Poor judgment/insight
  • Increased/decreased sex drive
  • Provocative behavior
  • Euphoria
  • Grandiose thinking or delusions
  • Inappropriate humor
  • Extreme irritability
  • Disjointed thinking
  • Paranoia
  • Rapid talking
  • Racing thoughts
  • Restlessness
  • Extravagant spending sprees
  • Poor concentration
  • Increased use of drugs and alcohol
  • Lessened need for sleep
  • Creative thinking
  • Anxiety symptoms
  • Flight of ideas
  • Reckless behavior

Signs and Symptoms of a Depressive Episode

  • Depression
  • Feeling worthless
  • Daily fatigue
  • Sleeping too much
  • Insomnia
  • Physical pain
  • Irritability
  • Self-loathing
  • Memory problems
  • Restlessness
  • Diminished pleasure
  • Hopelessness
  • Inappropriate guilt
  • Appetite change
  • Weight loss/gain
  • Thoughts of death/suicide
  • Suicide attempts
  • Shame
  • Anxiety
  • Indecisiveness
  • Pessimism
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If you suspect that you or a loved one may have bipolar disorder, please contact Lifeskills. Call us today at 844-749-1560.

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