Typical symptoms of bipolar disorders
There are many symptoms related to bipolar
Although mood swings are the most common symptom, there are many other symptoms related to bipolar. Often, the symptoms conflict with each other.
Bipolar disorder is characterized by two types of symptoms. These are depressive symptoms and manic symptoms. The two classes of symptoms produces different behaviour types. They are often experienced one after the other in a short period. Each symptom may have a severe or minimal effect depending on the individual.
The severity, symptom duration and types of symptom all help to diagnose the patient.
List of manic & depressive bipolar symptoms
Here is a list of bipolar symptoms, and the type (manic or depressive or both) that belongs to each symptom:
1. Mood swings – Type: Manic and depressive
Extreme mood swings are the most common symptom of bipolar disorder. These mood swings are a combination of manic and depressive symptoms. A mood swing is characterized by increased levels of positivity followed by increased levels of depression, or vice versa.
Life is full of ups and downs. It is quite normal, and even healthy, to feel sad or angry sometimes. But in the case of bipolar disorder, the ups are very high, and the downs are very low. Read on for the further symptoms of the highs (mania) and lows (depression)
2. Euphoria – Type: Manic
A manic episode is a state of euphoria, in most patients. Sufferers experience an increased level of happiness and a sense of accomplishment. Although this may not sound like the patient is suffering, there are negative aspects to euphoria.
When manic, the bipolar person can have permanent and excessive energy, overflowing with activity. They will often be afflicted with an overestimation of their abilities.
Euphoria can increase sexual appetite and give a poor judgment on reality. This can cause dangerous behaviour. The patient often not noticing the instability and danger of his/her own state.
3. Fast Speech – Type: Manic
A good sign that someone is experiencing a manic episode is rapid speech. Patients suddenly start talking fast for extended periods of time. It becomes difficult to understand what they are talking about. They also over-talk in conversations, making it difficult to get a word in. Incessant talking can lead to problems at work and put pressure on relationships.
4. Rapid Thoughts – Type: Manic
Rapid thoughts are a common symptom of bipolar mania and are associated with rapid speech. Here, patients are unable to focus on a single idea and tend to develop their thoughts as soon as they arise. As more thoughts come to their heads, the more they talk.
With such rapid thinking comes a need to quench the thirst for information on different subjects. Hobbies and interests may change quickly, and this is often related to overspending.
5. Irritation – Type: Manic and depressive
Irritation and restlessness are common in manic and depressive episodes. The sufferers are easily irritated by situations that wouldn’t normally be irritating.
A respectable person who is socially sensible might argue with strangers over trivial matters. Their demanding and intrusive behaviour might prevent them from creating new friendships.
The person with symptoms of irritability may start verbal or physical disputes. The person may find themselves in trouble with the Police.
The person may not fully grasp the consequences of their words, behaviour, or arguments. To the bystander, this apparently selfish, unloving, and arrogant behaviour might be unacceptable.
Like most symptoms of bipolar, irritability can have harmful effects on relationships and quality of life. Ongoing short-tempered behaviour can lead to job loss, relationship and marriage problems.
6. Increased physical activity – Type: Manic
During a manic episode, patients have an extremely high energy level. To make use of this energy, they often turn to physical activity. The patient will be physically restless.
The person is much more active at school/college, at work or ii their social life generally. Always wanting to please people, the employee will go the extra mile such as work longer hours. The person is likely to contact new and old friends to arrange social meetings.
This sudden bustle of activity doesn’t always bring about increased efficiency. In mania, an inability to concentrate is common, and patients may find it hard to ‘keep things together.’
The person affected by excess energy may pace restlessly backward and forward. They may seem frenzied or move about aimlessly. Hand wringing or pulling their own hair is common.
The individual is much more outgoing than usual – candid and overfriendly. Suffering with mania can make the person take part in high-risk activities. As with any of the bipolar symptoms, the changed conduct affects school, work, personal and social life. Depending on the intensity of mania, this change can be favourable or obstructive.
7. Abuse of drugs and alcohol – Type: Manic
Sometimes those who suffer from bipolar disorder often turn to drugs and alcohol. Careless use of these substances may be a warning sign of a much more severe problem than addiction. Often the alcohol and/or drugs are used by the sufferer to self-medicate. Alcohol may have the desired effect of quelling the mania for the short term. But the long-term effects can worsen and even be devastating for the sufferer and those close to them.
It is important that bipolar sufferers minimise their alcohol and drug intake, so medications work as intended.
8. Sleeplessness – Type: Manic
As indicated above, the manic episodes often involve large bursts of energy and euphoria. With these symptoms, it is challenging for the patient to sleep. Interestingly, even with the lack of sleep, these patients do not feel fatigue.
Although the patient may look haggard, they can still be full of energy, with racing thoughts.
9. Irregularities at work – Type: Manic and depressive
Bipolar patients are unable to maintain their work schedule. For this reason, they are often absent (or even arrive late) at their place of work.
10. Fatigue – Type: Depressive
Unlike manic symptoms, people with a depressive episode experiencing extreme fatigue. The constant need to go to bed, many hours of sleep, and lack of motivation throughout the day are all signs of bipolar depression.
The person feels intensely upset and hopeless. They may cry for consecutive periods of time. In most cases, they feel miserable, lonely, and believe life has little to offer. When these emotions of sadness are intense, the person might not know what caused them to feel this way. This can be frightening and confusing.
With regard to severe bipolar depression, the person may be unable to experience emotion. Instead of feeling saddened, they feel emotionless. They may feel numb, empty, or hollow.
11. Chronic pain with no known cause – Type: Depressive
Chronic pain without known causes is also indicative of bipolar disorder. These pains occur in many parts of the body and can include back pain and headaches.
12. Sadness / Hopelessness – Type: Depressive
One common symptom is an overwhelming feeling of sadness and despair. People can fall into a depressive state. And these symptoms are very different from those associated with a manic episode.
13. Suicidal Thoughts – Type: Depressive
As noted in the symptom # 12, people with bipolar disorder often feel sad and depressed. In extreme cases, they may develop suicidal thoughts which push them into suicidal acts.
It may be difficult to realize that a loved one is suicidal. People who suffer from thoughts of suicide might not express them. So, it’s essential the person suffering from suicidal thoughts see their health professional. This should happen on a regular basis to follow up on previous suicidal symptoms.
Health professionals can determine; the presence of a suicide plan, a history of suicide in the family, past suicide attempts, an individual’s motivation to stay alive and, if a suicide plan is present, the lethality of such a plan.
Recognise the symptoms?
If you recognise any of these symptoms or combination thereof in yourself or someone close to you then contact your GP. Some mental health units allow self referrals. Don’t worry, they won’t keep you as an inpatient unless you’re very ill and a danger to yourself or others. More likely they will give you a diagnosis and treatment plan.