Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder
The symptoms of bipolar disorder differ from person to person and they can vary widely in their pattern, severity, nature and frequency. Some people with bipolar disorder may be more prone to depression than to mania, while the obverse is also true for others. Rarely, some people with bipolar disorder will alternate equally between the two types of cycles or episodes. However most will experience many more depressive phases that will also last longer than the manic or hypomanic swings
Despite many similarities with depression, the depressive cycles in people with bipolar disorder can be distinctive. For example, symptoms include hypersomnia (sleeping longer), increased appetite and unpredictable mood swings and irritability coupled with feelings of guilt and worthlessness.
Some of the symptoms of depression include:
- Depressed mood
- Loss of interest or pleasure in nearly all activities
- Inability to concentrate
- Suicidal ideation
- Decreased energy, tiredness and fatigue
- Sense of worthlessness or guilt
- Changes in appetite
- Changes in sleep patterns
The manic symptoms of bipolar disorder are distinctive. Some people experience enormous amounts of energy, creativity and euphoria where they sleep little and are hyperactive. They might also feel a great sense of euphoria where they feel invincible and powerful. A common symptom, however, is for these episodes to spiral out of control and come crashing down. In these instances, behaviour such as reckless spending or gambling, inappropriate or excessive sexual activity, aggressive behaviour directed towards others, extreme inflexibility and unrealistic self-beliefs can be damaging to a person’s ability to participate in social networks. Although we usually associate mania with a burst of positive energy and an elevation of mood, it can also be associated with irritability and anger, which can make it especially difficult for those around the person with bipolar disorder.
Some of the symptoms of mania include:
- Elevation in affect (mood)
- Racing thoughts
- Inflated self-esteem
- Manic speech
- Increased physical mobility and energy
- Decreased need for sleep
- Expansiveness and recklessness
- Delusions and hallucinations, especially of a grandiose nature
The difference between a manic episode and a hypomanic episode is that a person with mania is so unwell that they are psychotic with delusions, hallucinations or disorganisation of their thoughts.