Mood Swings That Can Be Bipolar Disorder

A cliché image of Bipolar Disorder shows the two Greek Theatre masks: one making a grin beside the other with a sorrowful frown. The two masks serve to show the clear moods that define Bipolar Disorder.

Bipolar Disorder is a mental illness that involves both having experienced manic episodes as well as the experience of depressive episodes. Manic episodes may be few and far between and states of hypomania may fly under the radar. But catching manic symptoms is crucial because it’s arguably the most vital piece for diagnosing someone with Bipolar Disorder.

How to spot a manic episode and Bipolar Disorder

Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder appear first during late adolescence and early adulthood. This disorder may last a lifetime, but treatment may lessen Bipolar symptoms. The signature symptom of Bipolar Disorder is the presence of manic or hypomanic episodes. A true manic episode lasts at least a week and may be severe enough to result in hospitalization. During a manic episode, you might notice the following symptoms

• Feeling special and grandiose
• Needing less sleep
• Having racing thoughts
• Talking more than usual
• Engaging in risky behaviours such as gambling, impulsive spending, or misusing drugs and alcohol

If someone has Bipolar I disorder, their manic episodes may include psychosis, which means they hear and see things that aren’t there. Someone with Bipolar II disorder may not have true mania but will often experience a more subtle form, hypomania.

Symptoms of a Depressive Episode In Bipolar Disorder

Although manic episodes distinguish Bipolar Disorder from other mental health problems, most patients tend to notice depressive symptoms first. Sometimes Bipolar Disorder may have a hypomanic episode but not realize it, or not care because it actually feels great. Depression in Bipolar disorders looks like major depression. A Depressive episode of Bipolar Disorder may exhibit these symptoms:

• Sleeping more or less than usual
• Eating more or less than usual
• Extended feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and worthlessness
• Difficulty concentrating
• Losing interest in things you once loved
• Thinking about self-harm, suicide. or death.

When Depression Becomes Bipolar Disorder

Most people with Bipolar Disorder feel depressed more than they feel manic. The feelings of sadness and worthlessness may seem constant and acute. For many days their symptoms are indistinguishable from someone with major depressive disorder.

To qualify for the diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder, you only need to have ever had one manic episode in your entire life. That is important because Bipolar Disorder is treated differently than depression, since medications for depression may actually trigger a manic episode.

It might seem like manic episodes don’t need treatment, but severe mania can have serious consequences and be exhausting to deal with. Even hypomania which is considered a “high-functioning” form of mania, needs treatment

The problem is that untreated hypomania doesn’t stay that way, it dips quickly into either severe depression or mania with psychosis, both of which are dangerous states.

If you think you have Bipolar, feel depressed, or have mania, contact Laurian Ward for a consultation.