Bipolar disorder symptoms & definitions …
Bipolar disorder affects one to five percent of U.S. adults. Bipolar disorder is known as a manic-depressive illness. Manic-depression distorts moods and thoughts, increases/decreases energy levels, causes restlessness, irritability, impairs judgment, damages relationships, effects school or job performance. While manic-depression differs from the normal ups and down that everyone experiences in life, the symptoms can vary from manic highs to depressive lows and suicide. Bipolar disorder is a long-term illness that can be treated. Individuals can learn to lead full productive lives.
Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder …
Bipolar disorder causes dramatic mood swings—from “overly high” to “irritable” to “sad and hopeless.” A mood can swing up and down, back around, with periods of normalcy in-between. Severe changes in energy and behavior change with the moods. The periods of highs and lows are called “episodes” of mania and depression.
Many factors act together that result in bipolar disorder. The disorder is not often recognized as an illness and many people suffer for years before it is properly diagnosed and treated. Like diabetes or heart disease, bipolar disorder is a long-term illness that must be carefully managed throughout a person’s life.
Signs and symptoms of mania (or a manic episode) include:
• Increased energy and activity
• Excessively “high,” euphoric mood
• Extreme irritability and restlessness
• Racing thoughts, often accompanied by rapid speech, marked by the inability to maintain a single thought or idea
• Little need for sleep
• Unrealistic beliefs in one’s abilities and powers
• Poor judgment
• Spending sprees
• A lasting period of behavior that is different from usual
• Increased sexual drive
• Abuse of drugs, particularly cocaine, alcohol, and sleeping medications
• Provocative, intrusive, or aggressive behavior
• Not realizing that anything is wrong
• Unable to concentrate
Signs and symptoms of depression (or a depressive episode) include:
• Lasting sad, anxious, or empty mood
• Feelings of hopelessness or pessimism
• Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness
• Loss of interest or pleasure in activities once enjoyed, including sex
• Decreased energy or a feeling of fatigue
• Difficulty concentrating, remembering, making decisions
• Restlessness or irritability
• Sleeping too much or unable sleep
• Change in appetite and/or unintended weight loss or weight gain
• Chronic pain or other persistent bodily symptoms that are not caused by physical illness or injury
• Thoughts of death, suicide, or suicide attempts
The mood swings of a person diagnosed with bipolar disorder range from:
• Severe depression, moderate depression, mild depression
• Mild mania, moderate mania, severe mania
Severe episodes of mania or depression include symptoms of psychosis. Common psychotic symptoms are hallucinations (hearing, seeing, or otherwise sensing the presence of things that are not actually there) or delusions (false, strongly held beliefs not influenced by logical reasoning). Psychotic symptoms tend to reflect an extreme mood. Grandiose ideas such as believing one is the President or has special powers may occur during mania. Delusions of guilt or worthlessness, such as believing that one is ruined and penniless or has committed some terrible crime, may appear during depression. People with bipolar disorder who have these symptoms are sometimes incorrectly diagnosed as having schizophrenia, another severe mental illness.
Mild to moderate level of mania is called hypomania. Hypomania may feel good to the person who experiences it. It is often linked with enhanced productivity. Mild depression is sometimes referred to as “the blues” when it is short-lived, but is called “dysthymia” when it is chronic. Family and friends may learn to recognize the mood swings as part of the illness, but the diagnosed person may not realize that anything is wrong. Without proper treatment, hypomania may become severe mania in some people or switch into depression for others.
Symptoms of mania and depression may occur together in what is called a “mixed state.” Symptoms often include agitation, trouble sleeping, significant change in appetite, psychosis, and suicidal thinking. A person may have a very sad, hopeless mood while at the same time feeling extremely energized.
The best place to be in the spectrum of moods is “balanced.” With proper treatment, bipolar disorder can be stabilized. Education, a trusted medical professional, medication, self-awareness, a support group, journaling, taking ownership and responsibilities are the keys that will allow you to effectively manage your life.