Signs and Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder

Photo of Signs of Bipolar Disorder LocateADocHow can you know if you or a loved one has bipolar disorder? There are several symptoms that may indicate you or someone you know has manic depression.

Bipolar disorder, which is also commonly known as manic depression, is a disorder of the brain causing shifts in energy, mood, and activity. While all people experience some mood changes, people with bipolar disorder experience extreme shifts. These abrupt changes in mood can make it difficult to complete everyday tasks and result in serious personal and professional problems. A psychologist may be able to treat a patient with bipolar disorder through practicing psychotherapy, administering medication, or combination of both treatments. Patients looking for treatment can be advised on what to do by a doctor within the field of mental health.

If this description sounds applicable to you or someone you know, you may be curious about some of the specific signs or symptoms of bipolar disorder. People with manic depression experience phases called "mood episodes." These phases are typically categorized as either manic episodes or depressive episodes. These episodes may overlap with one another resulting in both symptoms of mania and depression in what a psychologist would call a "mixed state."

A manic episode is categorized by an overly joyful period of time. A few common symptoms of mania include the following behavioral changes:

  • Feeling restless
  • Taking on many new activities
  • Being easily distracted
  • Impulsive, risky behavior
  • Experiencing racing thoughts

A depressive episode is categorized by long periods of extreme sadness or hopelessness. Common signs of a depressive state include the following behavioral changes:

  • Feeling restless or irritable
  • Feeling tired or lethargic
  • Contemplating suicide or death
  • Having difficulty concentrating

Because the symptoms of bipolar disorder vary greatly from case to case, a psychologist will provide treatment designed specifically for an individual. For example, some people with bipolar disorder may never experience extreme manic states. These people experience hypomania, which is a state in which a person may feel productive and generally well. Others may go long periods of time without experiencing either kind of episode.

For more information on the signs and symptoms of bipolar disorder, visit our resource section or find a psychologist in your area.