Bipolar disorder describes swings in mood from periods of overactive, excited behavior known as high ‘mania’ to low ‘depression’. These changes in mood are often referred to as ‘cycles’ or ‘episodes’. The mood swings may even become mixed, so you might feel elated and depressed at the same time.
Everybody can have ups and downs in their mood from time to time in daily life. With bipolar disorder, these changes tend to be much more extreme and may affect day to day tasks, relationships, impair job or school performance or lead to risky behavior. In between mood swings, young people with bipolar disorder are able to function normally, go to college, hold a job, and have a normal family life.
Bipolar disorder may include the following warning signs.
7 signs of mania
- Feeling overly happy or “high” for long periods of time
- Having a decreased need for sleep
- Talking very fast, often with racing thoughts
- Feeling extremely restless or impulsive
- Becoming easily distracted
- Having overconfidence in your abilities
- Engaging in risky behavior, such as having impulsive sex, gambling with life savings, or going on big spending sprees
7 signs of depression
- Feeling sad or hopeless for long periods of time
- Withdrawing from friends and family or losing interest in activities that you once enjoyed
- Having a significant change in appetite
- Feeling severe fatigue or lack of energy
- Speaking slowly
- Having problems with memory, concentration, and decision-making
- Thinking about or attempting suicide, or having a preoccupation with death
If you spot the symptoms of bipolar depression in yourself or someone else, don’t wait to get help. Ignoring the problem won’t make it go away, in fact, it will almost certainly get worse. Living with untreated bipolar disorder can lead to problems in everything from your career to your relationships to your health. Diagnosing the problem as early as possible and getting into treatment can help prevent these complications.
If you’re reluctant to seek treatment because you like the way you feel when you’re manic, remember that the energy and euphoria come with a price. Mania and hypomania often turn destructive, hurting you and the people around you.
Earlier recognition of Bipolar Disorder is important. Delays in getting the correct diagnosis and treatment can lead to more personal, social, and work-related problems. Early treatment helps most people to stabilize the mood swings and reduce the frequency and severity of episodes and enables people to get on with their lives. Medication can be very effective in controlling mania and preventing the recurrence of both manic and depressive episodes. Early intervention will also include providing information, support, education, and guidance to the young person and their family to aid understanding and coping.