Bipolar disorder symptoms
Many people with bipolar disorder are not accurately diagnosed. They suffer from reoccurring cycles of untreated mania and depression. Or their bipolar disorder may be misdiagnosed as schizophrenia.
Bipolar disorder is a complex disease with many symptoms – making it a challenge to diagnose. And some individuals may not seek medical attention because they don't think their symptoms are a problem. They enjoy the euphoric (high) feelings that occur during a manic episode. Bipolar disorder symptoms also may be masked by substance abuse or problems at work or school. Sometimes other medical or mental conditions may be considered the cause of mania or depression.
Fortunately, help for bipolar disorder is possible. The first step toward a better life for people with the illness is to get a proper diagnosis.
Diagnosing bipolar disorder and getting proper bipolar disorder medical treatment can help aid in recovery — and lead to a fuller, more productive life.
Types of Bipolar Disorder
Bipolar is a complex disease. It's increasingly thought to be a "spectrum disorder" – not a single disease. There are several types of bipolar disorder, and patients with one type may develop another.
Here are the main types of bipolar disorder among adults. They're classified according to their severity and pattern of symptoms:
- Bipolar I. This is the classic form of the illness, in which a person experiences reoccurring episodes of mania and depression.
- Bipolar II. Patients alternate depressive episodes with a milder form of mania called hypomania.
- Bipolar disorder not otherwise specified (BD-NOS). The episodes don't fit the patterns or criteria for bipolar disorders I or II. Characteristics could include fast cycling between manic and depressive episodes or hypomanic or manic episodes without depressive episodes.
- Cyclothymic Disorder. Cyclothymic disorder is not as severe as either bipolar disorder I or II but is more chronic (reoccurring). Symptoms last for at least two years.
Bipolar disorder affects approximately 5.7 million American adults, or about 2.6 percent of the U.S. population age 18 and older.
What are the symptoms of bipolar disorder?
Symptoms of bipolar disorder fall into the two main categories that define the disease: mania and depression.
The cycles of mania and depression are irregular and unpredictable. If you have bipolar disorder, you may also experience mixed mania, or a "mixed state," in which both mania and depression coexist.
In addition, some patients with the disorder experience a phase called rapid cycling. When this happens, manic and depressive episodes alternate at least four times a year and sometimes progress to several cycles a day.
Do you suspect you or a loved one may have bipolar disorder? Many people with bipolar disorder are not accurately diagnosed. They don't get the treatment they need to help live full, productive lives.
Take the following bipolar disorder symptoms quiz to learn more:
A manic episode may include a distinct period of elevated mood, plus three or more of these symptoms — lasting most of the day for at least a week. If mood is chiefly irritable, 4 additional symptoms may be present. Symptoms may include:
- Increased energy, activity and restlessness (foot tapping, pacing)
- Excessively happy or high, euphoric mood
- Extreme irritability
- Racing thoughts
- Rapid speech: jumping from one idea to another, missing social clues to stop talking
- Distractibility: unable to concentrate or accomplish much despite high energy
- Sleeping only a few hours a night
- Unrealistic beliefs in abilities and powers –– inflated self esteem, grandiosity
- Risky, excessive behavior: poor financial judgment, sexual affairs, gambling
- Increased sexual drive
- Substance abuse, particularly cocaine, alcohol and sleeping medications
- Provocative, intrusive or aggressive actions, with inability to control temper
- Delusions and hallucinations (psychotic behavior)
- Lasting period of behavior different from usual behavior
- Denial that anything is wrong
A depressive episode may involve five or more of these symptoms lasting most of the day for two weeks or longer. At least one of the symptoms is depressed mood or loss of pleasure. Symptoms may include:
- Lasting mood of feeling sad, anxious or empty, crying spells
- Feeling hopeless or pessimistic
- Feeling guilty, worthless or helpless
- Losing interest or pleasure in activities once enjoyed, including sex
- Experiencing decreased energy, fatigue
- Difficulty concentrating, remembering or making decisions
- Feeling restless or irritable
- Sleeping too much or unable to sleep
- Having a changed appetite and/or having unintended weight loss or gain
- Experiencing chronic pain or other bodily symptoms that are not caused by physical illness or injury
- Thoughts of death or suicide, or suicide attempts
Treatment options and hope
There is hope for individuals with bipolar disorder. Treatment options can help you or a loved one recover from bipolar episodes and work toward a more productive life.