Bipolar disorder impacts an estimated 4.4% of US adults at some point in their lives, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. It takes the shape of two very different episodes: mania and depression. That’s why it was formerly called manic depression. These periods might be intermixed, or they might cycle back and forth. There might be a “normal” period in between. But regardless of unique variations, bipolar disorder comes with extreme mood swings that negatively impact the person’s day-to-day life. Fortunately, there are treatments out there that can help.
It’s important to remember that bipolar disorder requires a medical diagnosis. Recognizing signs of the disorder can help you know when it’s time to seek a medical professional’s help. Here are some of the indicators to look for.
People will often feel energized, full of new ideas. But they sometimes might be touchy or irritable. These episodes often go along with feelings of joy, elation or happiness. But it could also include delusions, even hallucinations, or disturbed thoughts.
People having a manic episode may do risky things, showing bad judgment. That might include binging, having reckless sex or giving away a lot of money, or making purchases they can’t afford. They might also say risky things, or make statements that are out of character. They can think they are able to do a lot of things at once.
Otherwise unexplained weight gain or weight loss can often go along with bipolar disorder. In periods of mania, they might not want to eat. People might have bursts of energy at this time, but that can also coincide with trouble sleeping. And you could notice rapid or frenzied speaking.
Depression is characterized by feelings of hopelessness, sadness or irritability. It could include feelings of emptiness or worthlessness, guilt or despair, or pessimism.
You might notice someone is easily distracted, struggling to find their train of thought or remember things. There’s typically a loss of interest in everyday activities, even ones they used to love. And it may lead to self harm or suicide.
Depression can impact sleep too, often making you excessively sleepy, or abnormally fatigued.
Otherwise unexplained weight gain or weight loss can often go along with bipolar disorder. Loss of appetite can be common in periods of depression.
The risk of suicide is dangerous. Bipolar disorder can put strain on relationships. The extremes can make it hard to keep a job. But there are ways to manage bipolar disorder. Therapy and medication can both help, along with the support of your healthcare provider.
Noticing these common signs is just the first step to a diagnosis. If you recognize these signs in you or someone you love, the best next step is to reach out to a medical professional. The behavioral health providers at CHP can help you find your way to a healthier future, with both the mental and physical in mind. Get in touch with the closest clinic to you, and make an appointment to reach affordable medical care.