Bipolar disorder is a brain disorder that causes extreme shifts in mood, energy, activity levels and the ability to carry out day-to-day tasks. We will explore seven of the most common signs and symptoms of this disease.
Bipolar disorder, also known as manic depression, is a brain disorder that causes extreme shifts in mood, energy, activity levels, and the ability to carry out day-to-day tasks. This mental health issue is characterised by emotional highs and lows. These mental states have to be taken as a whole to be properly diagnosed. For that reason, it can sometimes be difficult for those suffering from this condition and those who are close to them to see the big picture, acting as a barrier to bipolar disorder treatment. Let us look at few of the most common signs of this mental health issue.
Understanding the Four Types of Bipolar Disorder
There are actually four types of bipolar disorder. All of them are characterised by clear (and often extreme) changes in mood and energy levels. Sudden transitions from a sense of elation to abject hopelessness are common in all of the following:
- Bipolar I Disorder – This is the most obvious form of the mental illness. It is characterised by manic episodes of extreme elation that last at least seven days at a time. As with all forms of bipolar, these are also accompanied by depressive episodes (which usually last longer). Mixed mania and depression are also possible.
- Bipolar II Disorder – Much more common amongst the general population, bipolar II disorder is also more difficult to diagnose. This is because the episodes of mania (which are known as hypomania) are less severe, and the person suffering from them is much less likely to be aware of their symptoms. It is often loved ones who urge the person to seek help in this case.
- Cyclothymic Disorder – The symptoms of cyclothymic disorder are similar to those of bipolar II, but they last much longer. Depressive episodes will last at least two years at a time.
- Not Otherwise Specified (NOS) Bipolar Disorder – The final type of bipolar disorder represents cases that are difficult to categorise. A mental health professional may be able to identify bipolar symptoms that may not fit one of the aforementioned types.
The distinctions between the various types of bipolar disorder are important. They help mental health professionals prescribe the appropriate type of treatment and medication, and they also give the person suffering from the disorder a basis from which to understand their condition.
Signs of Mania in Bipolar Disorder
Bipolar is distinct from major depression, because those who suffer from it also experience periods of elation or mania. These are a few of the common symptoms of mania that bipolar sufferers experience:
- Sense of elation, or feeling ‘up’
- High energy level
- Surge in activity level
- Feelings of jumpiness or being ‘wired’
- Difficulty sleeping
- Talking fast and jumping from one topic to another
- Agitation and irritability
- Thinking very quickly, to the point of confusion
- Unfounded confidence in one’s ability to multi-task
- Impulsive, risk-taking behaviour
In some cases, the episode of mania is pronounced enough that the person experiencing it is actually aware that it is going on. But as mentioned above, hypomania is often more subdued and difficult for the person to detect.
Signs of Depression in Bipolar Disorder
Part of the bipolar experience is the descent into extreme (and often prolonged) periods of depression. These stand in stark contrast to the episodes of mania that also characterise the disease:
- Feelings of sadness, emptiness or hopelessness
- Difficulty enjoying activities that were once pleasurable
- Decreased activity levels
- Persistent forgetfulness
- Difficulty sleeping, or excessive sleeping in some cases
- Persistent worrying
- Feeling slow or tired
- Difficulty concentrating
- Low energy levels
- Overeating or undereating
- Thoughts of suicide or morbid obsessions
It is not uncommon for those suffering from bipolar disorder to experience both manic and depressive symptoms. These may occur in tandem or in close succession to one another.
Specific Signs of Manic Depression
We briefly explored some of the overarching symptoms of bipolar disorder. We will take a more in-depth look at some of the key warning signs below:
- Inability to complete tasks
Those suffering from bipolar disorder often direct their energy into starting new tasks and projects. However, these often go unfinished. Their manic energy followed by inevitable depressive slumps are the perfect recipe for unfinished business.
- Extreme irritability
Those who suffer from mixed periods of mania and depression may find themselves in a constant state of irritation. The mixed bag of emotional states they experience are frustrating, to say the least. If constant irritability is affecting relationships, then bipolar disorder could be to blame.
- Rapid speech
Everyone knows a fast-talker, but people suffering from bipolar disorder often take this to the next level. They may engage in what is known as pressured speech – speaking rapidly and talking over others for extended periods. This is a particularly strong sign if it only happens at certain times (ie during manic states).
- Impulsive behaviour
During manic states, people with bipolar disorder often have an inflated perception of themselves. Their increased confidence makes them more likely to act erratically or impulsively. This could manifest in several ways – from high-stakes compulsive gambling or shopping sprees to uncharacteristically risky sexual behaviour.
- Difficulty sleeping
Bipolar disorder often leads to extremes in sleep schedules. During a manic phase, the person is likely to subsist on very little sleep at all. When this swings to a depressive phase, they may sleep much more than needed.
- Erratic thought patterns
A racing mind is a symptom of a bipolar manic phase. It is sometimes difficult for others to detect, and even those who are experiencing it might not be aware of what is going on. Regardless, the person may feel like their mind is racing out of control.
- Difficulty at work
It is easy to imagine how many of the above symptoms could lead to problems at work. An irritable, sleep-deprived person with difficulty completing tasks is not going to score well on performance appraisals.
Finding Help for People with Bipolar Mood Disorder
The Cabin Dhaka provides tailored treatment for people who are suffering from mood disorders. We can help you better understand the emotional highs and lows that you are experiencing. We will also equip you with the tools and treatment you need to overcome these problems. Contact us online or call us directly on +88 0177 152 8086, and begin your journey to healing today.