Common Signs and Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder

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  • What Is Bipolar Disorder?

    What Is Bipolar Disorder?

    Bipolar disorder is a type of mental illness. It affects a your mood, energy levels, and how well you can take care of your day-to-day responsibilities. The condition is called bipolar because of characteristic major swings between happiness and sadness, two poles of the mood spectrum.

    The disease often develops before the age of 25. Bipolar disorder can interfere with family and other personal relationships. It can also make it hard to hold a job or succeed in school.

    Click through the slideshow to find out how to identify signs and symptoms of this disorder.

  • Mood Episodes

    Mood Episodes

    If you have bipolar disorder, you’ll have mood episodes, or periods in which you’re either very elated or very sad.

    The highs or extremely joyful times are called manic episodes. Low periods marked by sadness or hopelessness are called depressive episodes. A mixed state is a mood episode that contains moments of mania and depression.

    Some people experience several mood episodes in one day. Others may have sustained periods of one single mood or experience episodes infrequently.

  • Manic Episode Signs

    Manic Episode Signs

    Not all manic episodes are marked by happy or positive feelings. You may just as easily act anxious, restless, and irritable. Your speech may speed up and your attention may be easily diverted.

    People in manic episodes often have difficulty sleeping. Sometimes, a manic episode can cause a person to energetically start a new project or work extra hard on something. But a manic episode may also lead to reckless behaviors, especially those related to sex, drugs, or money.

  • Depressive Episode Signs

    Depressive Episode Signs

    Depressive episodes are long periods in which a person feels discouraged and hopeless. Like someone with clinical depression, a bipolar patient often withdraws from activities that were once enjoyable, such as having sex, socializing with friends, or dabbling in hobbies.

    Sleeping and eating patterns often change when a person is in a depressive episode. In serious cases, a depressive episode can lead a person to alcohol or drug abuse. Patients may also have thoughts of suicide.

  • Mixed State Signs

    Mixed State Signs

    A bipolar disorder patient in a mixed state may demonstrate some of the best and worst aspects of the disease, which can confuse those close to the bipolar person. For example, someone in a mixed state may be very energetic and hard working, but also seem very depressed.

    Mixed states can be especially frustrating for the bipolar patient. Feelings of elation may be accompanied by crying, for example. Changes in appetite and sleeping habits may also develop during this state.

  • Bipolar Subtypes

    Bipolar Subtypes

    Like many health challenges, bipolar disorder can be mild, severe, or somewhere in between. There are three subtypes of the condition:

    • cyclothymic disorder: the mildest version of bipolar disorder. A person still has highs and lows, but they’re less dramatic.
    • bipolar I disorder: the most serious subtype, with extreme shifts between mania and depression.
    • bipolar II disorder: less serious than bipolar I disorder. It can still cause problems in relationships, school, and work.
  • Living with Bipolar Disorder

    Living with Bipolar Disorder

    Bipolar disorder tends to be a condition that lasts a lifetime. If not treated properly, it can become more serious. Mood episodes can occur more often and with greater severity. Medications and other therapies can help manage the condition. But it’s important to get a good diagnosis and start a treatment plan that helps ease symptoms.

  • Therapies Can Help

    Therapies Can Help

    Bipolar disorder can be treated in a variety of ways. Mood-stabilizing drugs, part of a class of drugs called anticonvulsants, can be part of long-term care. They’re designed to help control seizures, but they can also help manage your moods.

    Antipsychotic and antidepressant drugs help some patients. Psychological counseling is an important part of treatment too. You can learn to identify triggers of mood episodes or signs that a new mood episode is about to begin.

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