What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder?

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Most people associate bipolar disease with extreme highs or manic episodes with alternating periods of depression. But, those are not the only signs and symptoms of bipolar disease.  As a matter of fact, it is these extreme highs and lows that can lead to all sorts of other side affects.

For those wondering if they (or someone they love) may be suffering from more than depression or an exaggerated good mood, it may be time to take a closer look at all of their symptoms to determine if a bipolar disorder diagnosis may be in order.

Depression

It is common for people to look for manic symptoms when considering bipolar disorder, but the truth is that severe depression is a more common side effect of the disease. So much so that nearly 75% of all bipolar patients were first diagnosed with depression.  This can lead to months or even years of improper treatment and prolonged suffering.  For this reason, be sure to notify your doctor immediately if you begin to notice periods of intense manic behavior following a depressive state.  This could be a sign of bipolar disorder; not just depression.

Extreme Impulsiveness

Sometimes a manic episode is confused with impulsiveness, until the patient becomes so impulsive that people begin to notice its unnormal state.  Those who exhibit severe impulsiveness like quitting their job all of a sudden with no real plans for the future; or even those who have grandiose plans for a new adventure without really thinking things through should be evaluated.  This is especially true for those who ultimately find themselves in a dark mood weeks or months after the impulsive mania begins.  Everyone has highs and lows, but when those highs and lows begin to take over your life and your ability to make wise choices, bipolar disorder should be considered.

Mood Swings

Everyone experiences a bad day here and there and everyone exhibits their frustration in different ways. But the onset of sudden (and severe) mood swings for no apparent reasons could be a danger sign; especially among those who are vulnerable to bipolar disorder.

Euphoria

Some of the most creative people in history are thought to have suffered with bipolar disorder. Take the artists or writer who suddenly becomes inspired and works for days, weeks or months in a home or room all alone, eating and sleeping little. They seem to run only on creative juices, pulling away from the world, only to be left exhausted and unable to function after their project is complete.  This type of euphoric hyperactivity followed by a depressive state is a classic sign of bipolar disorder.  But not everyone shows such an extreme.  In many people, the euphoria they experience exhibits itself in more common ways like:

  • jabbering or talking way to fast for no apparent reasons
  • irritability and an inability to concentrate or sit still for more than a minute or two
  • racing thoughts
  • distractibility
  • delusions
  • reckless behavior
  • either an inability to concentrate or an intense concentration on just one thing for an unusual period of time. This creates an inability to concentrate on anything but the one thing keeping the person’s intense interest.
  • insomnia
  • an unrealistic belief about their capabilities

Bipolar Disorder is More Than Mood Swings

When one reads over the list of signs and symptoms of bipolar disorder it can make you believe that everyone suffers with this serious disease. The truth is that while diagnosis of bipolar is becoming easier, the number of people who suffer with bipolar is still generally small in comparison to the overall population.

Bipolar disorder is a serious mental illness that needs to be taken seriously.  While its signs and symptoms may appear to be relatively common, the severity of them is not.  While one person may seem manic due to real feelings of euphoria over a chance to try something new at home or work; the bipolar patient will appear completely over the top in the way they act and feel about the situation.  And while one person may appear to be making a rash choice to quit their job and return to school to study something brand new; the bipolar patient believes they can do the same thing in a fraction of the time with no changes to their life and still get all A’s. In short, their expectations are completely unrealistic and when confronted with the fact will lash out in a much harsher manner.

Those suffering with bipolar disorder will experience the highs and lows of life in such an intense manner that they are unable to cope with neither the good times or the and in a normal way.  When you notice these types of extreme in yourself or someone you know, it is time to seek help.

Bipolar disorder can be treated quite effectively these days, but only when this signs and symptoms are recognized and reported to a doctor.


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