Bipolar Disorder: Know the Symptoms

Learn the signs, and how to get help

Are you experiencing uncontrollable feelings of euphoria or hyperactivity and depression? It could be bipolar disorder, a behavioral disease that is characterized by these drastic feelings.

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You’re not alone. Formerly known as manic-depression, this disease affects one to five percent of the world’s population.

Bipolar disorder usually shows up in the late teens to early 20s. It can also occur later in life, by the late 30s, but rarely in later years. The disease is misdiagnosed at times, as it may first seem like depression or ADHD. Symptoms of depression frequently occur before signs or symptoms of mania, leading to the issue of a misdiagnosis.

Knowing the symptoms of bipolar disorder is crucial. There are both manic and depression symptoms. Manic symptoms include:

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  • Euphoric or irritable mood lasting one week
  • Distractible thoughts
  • Impulsive behavior
  • Racing thoughts
  • Decreased need for sleep
  • Increased talkativeness
  • Increase in risky behaviors

Risky behaviors can include spending, hyper sexuality, gambling, drug or alcohol abuse, or reckless driving. People exhibiting these manic characteristics frequently feel the need for increased activity in general, such as cleaning the house excessively. These symptoms also have to interfere in a person’s work or social life to be considered true mania.

Depression can interfere in a person’s daily life with a wide range of severity. Depression symptoms in bipolar disorder include:

  • Euphoric or irritable mood lasting one week
  • Loss of sleep
  • Decreased energy, appetite and interest
  • Poor concentration
  • Feelings of guilt
  • Feelings of hopelessness

There is a range in severity of symptoms from mild to severe. People who have only mild symptoms listed above, or have not noticed a major interference in their work or social lives, may meet the criteria for hypomania. Hypomania is a term suggesting a milder form of bipolar disorder, but those who suffer with hypomania may certainly benefit from treatment as well.

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The good news is that there are numerous effective treatments for bipolar disorder and mood stabilizing medications are the first-line treatment available. If bipolar disorder is not treated properly, it can cause great difficulties in a person’s life. If these symptoms sound familiar, you may want to discuss them with your physician, who may refer you to a psychiatrist for a more specialized evaluation. Either way, remember that bipolar disorder is a treatable medical condition with several sources of medical and emotional support available.


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