Bipolar disorder symptoms are characterized by an alternating pattern of emotional highs (mania) and lows (depression). The intensity of signs and symptoms can vary from mild to severe. There may even be periods when your life doesn’t seem affected at all.
- Extreme optimism
- Inflated self-esteem
- Poor judgment
- Rapid speech
- Racing thoughts
- Aggressive behavior
- Increased physical activity
- Risky behavior
- Spending sprees, credit card irresponsibility
- Increased drive to perform or achieve goals
- Increased sexual drive
- Decreased need for sleep
- Tendency to be easily distracted
- Inability to concentrate
- Drug abuse
The depressive phase of bipolar disorder
Signs and symptoms of the depressive phase of bipolar disorder may include:
- Suicidal thoughts or behavior
- Sleep problems
- Appetite problems
- Loss of interest in daily activities
- Problems concentrating
- Chronic pain without a known cause
Types of bipolar disorder
Bipolar disorder is divided into two main subtypes:
- Bipolar I disorder. You’ve had at least one manic episode, with or without previous episodes of depression.
- Bipolar II disorder. You’ve had at least one episode of depression and at least one hypomanic episode. A hypomanic episode is similar to a manic episode but much briefer, lasting only a few days, and not as severe. With hypomania, you may have an elevated mood, irritability, and some changes in your functioning, but generally, you can carry on with your normal daily routine and functioning, and you don’t require hospitalization. In bipolar II disorder, the periods of depression are typically much longer than the periods of hypomania.
- Cyclothymia. Cyclothymia is a mild form of bipolar disorder. Cyclothymia includes mood swings but the highs and lows are not as severe as those of full-blown bipolar disorder.
Other bipolar disorder symptoms
In addition, some people with bipolar disorder have rapid-cycling bipolar disorder. This is the occurrence of four or more mood swings within 12 months. These moods shifts can occur rapidly, sometimes within just hours. In mixed state bipolar disorder, symptoms of both mania and depression occur at the same time.
Severe episodes of either mania or depression may result in psychosis or a detachment from reality. Symptoms of psychosis may include hearing or seeing things that aren’t there (hallucinations) and false but strongly held beliefs (delusions).