Bipolar Disorder Symptoms

Written by the Healthline Editorial Team | Published on July 24, 2014
Medically Reviewed by Kenneth R. Hirsch, MD on July 24, 2014

Learn about the symptoms of bipolar disorder, including the symptoms of depression and mania.

Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder

A person with bipolar disorder will experience different symptoms depending on whether he or she is in a manic phase or a depressed phase. In some rare cases, manic and depressed symptoms occur simultaneously. They can appear in quick succession in people with bipolar I disorder. This is called a mixed episode. Symptoms associated with the different aspects of bipolar include:

Mania Symptoms

A manic phase may last from days to months and is marked by elevated mood and poor impulse control. An individual might:

  • have increased energy
  • be unusually talkative
  • be hyperactive
  • have racing thoughts
  • be easily distracted
  • show irritability
  • have little need for sleep
  • express inflated self-esteem
  • have and share grandiose thoughts about one’s abilities

One of the most dangerous symptoms of mania is the practice of reckless behavior. This might include, for example:

  • unprotected sexual encounters
  • binge drinking or drug use
  • spending sprees
  • foolish business investments
  • making rash decisions that put themselves or others in danger

Depression Symptoms

A depression phase is characterized by:

  • sadness
  • uncontrollable crying
  • feelings of worthlessness or hopelessness
  • excessive guilt
  • fatigue and listlessness
  • anxiety
  • sleep disturbances (either oversleeping or inability to sleep)
  • eating disturbances (eating either too much or too little)
  • loss of interest or enjoyment in activities one typically enjoys
  • withdrawal from friends and family

Suicidal Behavior

In bipolar disorder, suicide is a significant risk. Suicidal thoughts and attempts are more likely to happen during the depressed state. Other forms of self-harm such as cutting and self-mutilation also occur with bipolar disorder.

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