Bipolar Disorder is a severe mental illness that is characterized by episodes of depression and mania and hypomania. These episodes vary in length depending on the type of Bipolar Disorder that a person suffers from. The extreme shifts in mood and energy levels can contribute to suicidal ideation or suicidal actions, whether those are passive or active.
Bipolar Disorder is most frequently treated with a combination of therapy and medication. It is a serious illness, and it is not preventable. It can be genetic, and it can affect people’s jobs, relationships, and it can severely impact a person’s quality of life.
If you receive medication and therapy for Bipolar Disorder, your life will improve, but first, you need to know the symptoms of Bipolar Disorder. If you believe that you have these symptoms, please consult a medical professional immediately.
Types of Bipolar Disorder
Bipolar Disorder Type 1 (Bipolar I Disorder) is differentiated from Bipolar Type 2 (Bipolar II Disorder) by establishing that a person has experienced at least one full-on manic episode during their life. Despite the criteria stating that only one manic episode must occur, a person with Bipolar Disorder Type 1 will often experience more than that. People with Bipolar Type 1 typically develop the condition during their late teen years or early adulthood, but some people see symptoms of the disease develop as early as childhood.
When viewed in children, it is referred to as a pediatric Bipolar disorder. Children can’t necessarily put a name to their feelings when they have Bipolar disorder because they don’t fully comprehend what mania is, but as they grow up, they will begin to understand their experiences better. Approximately 2.5% of the United States population lives with Bipolar Disorder, which is about six million individuals. So, it is relatively common, and it is worth it to understand the following symptoms so that you can recognize them in yourself or the people around you:
Symptoms of Mania
Pressured speech or speaking loudly
Going from one idea to the next rapidly
Inability to slow down
Decreased need for sleep or insomnia
Grandiosity or inflated self-perception
Compulsive or excessive spending
During a manic episode, a person may spend excessive amounts of money, engage in promiscuous behavior that they would not frequently participate in, appear narcissistic to the onlooker, and so on. A manic episode can last for a couple of weeks or a couple of months. The symptoms of this illness vary regarding length and severity. Most if not all people with Bipolar Disorder have periods where they are asymptomatic, meaning that they aren’t experiencing symptoms. If left untreated, however, mania or mixed episodes can result in death by suicide, so it is essential that an individual with Bipolar Disorder receives treatment.
Symptoms of Depression
- Low energy
- Sleeping too little or too much
- Feelings of hopelessness or worthlessness
- Thoughts of suicide or self-harm
- Changes in eating
- Social isolation
- Slow speech
- Actively planning a suicide attempt*
*If you are experiencing thoughts of suicide, call 911 immediately.
Mood stabilizers are a treatment option for those living with Bipolar Disorder. Mood stabilizers such as lithium are especially useful in treating mania, and lithium itself has been used for over sixty years to treat Bipolar Disorder. When taking lithium, a person’s blood levels must be monitored in addition to the monitoring of their kidneys and thyroid, which may be affected by the medication.
Depakote is another medication that can be used to treat Bipolar Disorder. It can be useful in treating mania and other shifts in mood. Depakote can begin treating symptoms of Bipolar Disorder in as early as five days from the day that a person starts taking the medication. Many people with Bipolar Disorder benefit from taking Depakote.
Other Mood Stabilizers
Tegretol and Lamictal are also common mood stabilizers used to treat Bipolar Disorder. They can prevent episodes of mania or hypomania and treat depression. Some people report that they have decreased anxiety as a result of these medications as well. Trileptal and Topamax may also be used to treat this condition.
When an episode is severe, antipsychotics are used when treating mania. Here are some common antipsychotics:
These are relatively new medications, which are pre-dated by typical antipsychotics such as Haldol. Antipsychotics come with some potential risks and side effects, such as tardive dyskinesia, uncontrollable facial movements, tremors, and tics.
Xanax, Valium, Ativan, and other benzodiazepines treat anxiety that occurs as a result of mania. They don’t address the other symptoms of mood swings that come with the illness, such as euphoria from mania or low energy from depression, but they can aid in helping a person with Bipolar Disorder manage their anxiety.
Antidepressants alone do not treat Bipolar Disorder. Antidepressants include but are not limited to Prozac, Zoloft, Lexapro, or Wellbutrin. If taken apart, there is a risk for antidepressants to cause mania in those with Bipolar Disorder. However, in conjunction with mood stabilizers, they can help manage depressive symptoms. Wellbutrin is one of the most common antidepressants used in the treatment of Bipolar Disorder in conjunction with a mood stabilizer because it does not fall into the category of an SSRI and works mainly on dopamine levels.
Some people find that it contributes to heightened anxiety levels and it is not recommended for continuation in those individuals. Other classes of drugs can also treat depression in those with Bipolar Disorder, so it’s important to talk to your psychiatrist and see what will work for you the best. Antidepressant medications considered SNRI’s are also used in the treatment of Bipolar Disorder, and they include Cymbalta, Effexor, Pristiq, and other drugs. These medications act on different neurotransmitters and can be useful in alleviating some of the depressive symptoms of Bipolar Disorder.
Bipolar Disorder Type 2
As stated previously, Bipolar II Disorder is different from Bipolar I Disorder. Bipolar II Disorder can be challenging to diagnose because it is characterized mainly by depressive symptoms. Many people with Bipolar Disorder Type 2 get misdiagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) when they first seek help. It can take years for the correct diagnosis to be made. Sometimes, a person can go their entire life without a proper diagnosis.
When a person with Bipolar II Disorder gets the proper diagnosis, it can be life-changing because they can get the right treatment and begin to get better. Bipolar Disorder Type 2 differs from MDD because a person with Bipolar II Disorder will experience hypomania, which is a less severe form of mania. Hypomania certainly differs from mania, but it can still be disruptive.
If hypomania is left untreated, however, you can swing into full-blown mania, which is why it is crucial to treat the illness accordingly. Hypomania includes the following symptoms:
- Increased energy
- Less need for sleep
- Increased productivity
- Pressured speech
- Inflated self-esteem
The difference between mania and hypomania is that, while you may experience increased energy levels, it is not as extreme as what you’d suffer from mania. Hypomania tends to last around a week, while mania can last anywhere from a few weeks to months at a time.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What is a person with bipolar like?
People with bipolar disorder have periods of normalcy coupled with periods of elation and depression. Adults with bipolar disorder can carry on normal lives by learning to manage their condition with a combination of bipolar medications, psychotherapy, and lifestyle changes.
What triggers bipolar?
There are many factors that can trigger symptoms of bipolar disorder. These factors include a genetic predisposition to mental health issues, environmental factors and health factors (including chemical imbalances). Symptoms of bipolar disorder can be triggered by any or all of these factors. This is one of the reasons living with bipolar can feel debilitating and confusing for people with bipolar disorder and their families.
What are the signs of bipolar in a woman?
Symptoms of bipolar disorder are similar for a man and a woman. Both men and women may exhibit symptoms of bipolar disorder that include: anxiety, mood swings, aggression, disorganized behavior, and irritability. Euphoric symptoms of bipolar disorder are -- hyperactivity, false beliefs of superiority, and an increase in sexually promiscuous behavior.
What are the 4 types of bipolar?
According to the National Institute for Mental Health, there are three types of bipolar disorder. There is also potentially a fourth bipolar disorder explained below. The three types of bipolar disorder include -- bipolar I disorder, bipolar II disorder, and cyclothymic disorder. The fourth type is bipolar disorder induced by environment or substance use disorders.
Can a bipolar person kill?
According to mental health researchers and medical professionals, people with bipolar disorder are more likely to commit suicide than to kill someone else. Due to the nature of bipolar disorder symptoms - while people with bipolar disorder can commit violent acts, they are less likely to commit them against another person.
Should you argue with a bipolar person?
Aggressiveness is one of the many symptoms of bipolar disorder. Keeping this in mind, it’s almost pointless to argue with someone diagnosed with bipolar disorder. The aggression that people with bipolar disorder display -- is often a result of bipolar disorder symptoms and shouldn’t be perceived as a personal attack.
How are you tested for bipolar?
People with bipolar disorder are often given psychological and medical tests when they start to display signs of bipolar disorder. Depending on the type of bipolar symptoms present, a medical or mental health professional will diagnose bipolar disorder as bipolar I disorder or one of the other three categories of mental illnesses that involve bipolar episodes. There is a different approach for treating bipolar disorder based on the type of disorder you’re diagnosed with.
Can a bipolar person truly love?
People with bipolar disorder, bipolar depression, and related disorders can have fulfilling and productive relationships. This includes loving family relationships and loving intimate relationships with partners and spouses as long as they have taken the right steps to treat bipolar disorder. Bipolar disorder is treated with bipolar medication, psychotherapy, and healthy lifestyle changes. Left untreated, bipolar disorder can make it difficult for people to maintain close relationships.
What is the difference between bipolar 1 and 2?
There are a few versions of bipolar and related disorders recognized by mental health professionals. Bipolar disorder, formerly called “manic depression” has more than one form. People diagnosed with bipolar disorder I or II are suffering from different forms of bipolar disorder experience. Bipolar symptoms for people with bipolar I alternate between periods of depression and elation. People with bipolar disorder II experience longer periods of depression than people with bipolar I.
What is the definition of a bipolar person?
People with bipolar disorder often struggle with the stigma of coping with bipolar disorder. Many people who develop bipolar disorder are considered as “violent,” “aggressive,” or “unruly.” In fact, researchers have learned by dealing with bipolar disorder over time, that adults with bipolar disorder are more prone to self-harm than harm towards others.
How do you deal with a bipolar person?
When it comes to engaging with a sibling with bipolar disorder or other loved ones, seek professional advice from an expert trained at diagnosing treating bipolar disorder. Trying to manage and deal with untreated bipolar disorder without the help of a licensed professional is a gargantuan task.
The licensed therapists at BetterHelp are experts at talking to people with bipolar disorder. Learn to recognize bipolar symptoms present in bipolar and related disorders by talking to a therapist today.
Can you be slightly bipolar?
Looking at bipolar and related disorders, there is a mild form of the disorder called a cyclothymic disorder. Bipolar symptoms in this milder form of the disorder are not as severe or debilitating as those for people who develop bipolar I or bipolar II. People with bipolar disorder can be diagnosed with either form of the disorder based on developing bipolar symptoms.
Why do bipolar people get so angry?
People with bipolar disorder may appear to be angry due to experiencing aggravated symptoms of the disorder. Bipolar disorder symptoms like aggression and irritability are common in people with bipolar disorder. These symptoms can be treated with bipolar medication and therapy. Left untreated bipolar symptoms will likely worsen.
What should you not say to a bipolar person?
Bipolar disorder in adults (and bipolar disorder in children) can result in many verbal miscommunications due to the fact that people with bipolar disorder suffer from rapidly changing mood-shifts. Therapists who diagnose bipolar disorder can teach communication strategies for communicating more effectively with people with bipolar disorder.
Is bipolar inherited from mother or father?
Medical professionals who treat bipolar disorder and diagnose bipolar disorder report bipolar disorder in children increases if one or both parents has a diagnosis of a cyclothymic disorder, bipolar I disorder or bipolar II disorder. As it relates to parental information on bipolar disorder -- whether the parent is male or female has little to do with a bipolar disorder overview.
Is Bipolar 1 or 2 worse?
People with bipolar disorder may have different forms of the disorder. The main differences in bipolar I disorder vs. bipolar II disorder are the strategies professionals take to treat bipolar. Information on bipolar diagnosis, symptoms, and treatments outlines the differences in manic and depressive symptoms for people suffering from bipolar disorder.
What is the best medication for bipolar 1?
There are a few medications medical and mental health professionals use to treat bipolar disorder. The best medication depends on the type and severity of symptoms and how well the medication is tolerated by the person taking it. Lithium, Depakote, and similar mood-stabilizing medications are used to treat bipolar disorder.
What are the symptoms of bipolar 1 and 2?
Symptoms of bipolar I disorder include periods of highs-and-lows called elation and mania. During these periods, people with bipolar I experience extreme mood-shifts based on euphoric or depressive symptoms. People with bipolar II disorder are more prone to experiencing the extreme depressive lows of bipolar disorder.
Are bipolar people manipulative?
It can appear that people with bipolar disorder are manipulative. This is partially due to their ever-changing moods and emotions. A person with bipolar disorder may manipulate the people around them based on their manic or depressive state.
Are bipolar patients intelligent?
People with bipolar disorder are often highly intelligent. The issues they have are with regulating their moods and emotions. Because of their high levels of intelligence, it can be difficult to spot someone with bipolar disorder who appears to be highly intelligent and confident (due to mania).
Should I marry someone with bipolar disorder?
If you’re thinking about marrying someone with bipolar disorder, look at the situation objectively. Marrying someone with bipolar disorder means taking on their everyday challenges, changing needs, and mood swings. People who marry someone with bipolar disorder should make a strong commitment to psychotherapy and medication management as a part of their everyday lives.
What age are you diagnosed with bipolar?
People can be diagnosed with bipolar disorder at any age. If someone starts to exhibit the symptoms of bipolar disorder, it’s important to seek medical advice from a primary care physician or a licensed therapist who can help.
Is bipolar a disability?
Depending on the severity of the condition, bipolar disorder can be considered a disability. If someone suffering from bipolar disorder is deemed unable to perform their normal everyday tasks -- they are disabled.
Can you self diagnose bipolar?
While you can do your research to compare what you’ve been feeling to bipolar symptoms, it’s inadvisable to try to diagnose bipolar disorder on your own. Seek the support of a licensed medical provider or therapist for an accurate diagnosis and proper treatment for bipolar disorder.