Bipolar Disorder, once called “manic depression,” is often characterized as a disorder of extremes: individuals prone to mood swings, thought changes or irritability are often described as having Bipolar tendencies. Despite the frequency and ease with which the term is used to describe symptoms, Bipolar Disorder is actually a legitimate mental health disorder—one that requires a comprehensive therapy team to treat. One of the most common symptoms of Bipolar Disorder is the presence of mania. Although this is a common symptom, the exact nature of mania is often misunderstood—or incorrectly applied. So, what exactly is mania?
Mania, when applied to Bipolar Disorder, is a state characterized by feelings of extreme highs. In some cases, these highs might not feel that much different from a previous sense of normal; if cases of mania follow periods of depression, mania might not feel dramatic or intense but might feel more like a return to a “normal” level of functioning. What differentiates “normal” energy and manic energy, though, is the degree to which the change in your mental state affects you and your ability to carry out daily life. Mania is not merely a temporary high of productivity but is often accompanied by sleeplessness, exaggerated or aggressive speech patterns, and an inability to “turn off,” so to speak.
Mania derived from Bipolar Disorder is defined as a period of time in which mental activity is at a peak—whether that peak involves hyperactivity or an actual upswing in delusions or hallucinations. Both can be indications of the presence of Bipolar Disorder-induced mania. Although the term “manic” suggests off-the-wall or over-the-top behavior, not all of Bipolar Disorder induced manic episodes involve enormous outward expressions of distress; instead, many people who are experiencing manic episodes merely feel excited, happy, or mildly euphoric, resulting in increased productivity, excitement, and a seemingly positive outlook on life—all things that might initially seem to run counter to a depressive disorder such as Bipolar Disorder. Contrary to what seems to be popular belief, an individual who loves someone one minute and hates them the next is not exhibiting symptoms of Bipolar Disorder; this disorder is defined by periods of overall activity and mental experience, rather than a single avenue of expression.
People with Bipolar Disorder might not immediately recognize the symptoms and might either think they are just unusually prone to mood swings or might believe their experiences are wholly symptomatic of depression, rather than a depressive disorder such as Bipolar Disorder. A discussion of the signs and symptoms of mania will warrant a discussion of the different types of mania within Bipolar Disorder: hypomania and mania. As each of these names suggests, they are varying degrees of the same basic set of symptoms. These basic symptoms include:
If you are experiencing any of the above signs and symptoms, it is possible you are experiencing a period of mania. That alone, however, is not the same as a Bipolar Disorder; Bipolar Disorder is characterized not only by mania but by depression as well. Mania alone might indicate the presence of other mental health concerns but is not a solid indication of Bipolar Disorder, because mania on its own is not affiliated with Bipolar Disorder. That being said, mania in conjunction with depressive episodes does warrant an investigation into the possibility of Bipolar Disorder. Consequently, a small discussion on depressive symptoms is necessary.
Depressive symptoms are those that are often associated with major and minor Depressive Disorders. The most common symptoms of depression include:
Although not each and every one of these symptoms must be present for a Bipolar Disorder diagnosis, these are some of the more common symptoms of a depressive disorder. If both mania and depression feel familiar to you, it is certainly possible that you are experiencing manic episodes as a result of Bipolar Disorder.
The Vital Nature of a Bipolar Disorder Diagnosis
While it may be tempting to view Bipolar Disorder symptoms on a site and diagnose yourself in order to begin treatment, Bipolar Disorder is a serious condition, and requires a legitimate diagnosis from a mental health professional to begin treatment. Plenty of online advice will suggest at-home remedies for Bipolar Disorder: diet changes, lifestyle alterations, and alternative therapies. While none of these things are bad in and of themselves—and many of them can be used as concurrent treatments—these are not treatments in and of themselves. It is vital, then, to speak to a mental health professional if you are experiencing symptoms of Bipolar Disorder.
People with Bipolar Disorder may feel as though they are flawed or in some way defective if they cannot, on their own, get their condition “under control,” but this is one of the greatest misconceptions currently surrounding mental health: it is not a simple matter of improving an individual’s attitude or changing an outlook. Instead, Bipolar Disorder requires legitimate medicine, whether that takes on the form of pharmaceutical intervention, psychotherapy, or a combination of these two and additional interventions. No mental disorder or mental illness, Bipolar Disorder included, is an indication of weakness or personal fault but is instead an indicator of ill health. Consequently, a diagnosis is vital to move toward therapy, which is essential to begin managing and healing Bipolar Disorder.
Discovering that you are showing symptoms of Bipolar Disorder can be frightening; if you are not familiar with Bipolar Disorder, its symptoms, and related conditions, people with Bipolar Disorder may initially feel overwhelming to find that you are exhibiting symptoms. Fortunately, while Bipolar Disorder can feel insurmountable, it is a highly treatable condition, and individuals with the disorder can go on to lead stable, productive, and peaceful lives. The key to this is proper treatment. Therapists, such as those available from BetterHelp, are equipped to not only assess, diagnose, and treat Bipolar Disorder—they are also trained to help manage any co-morbid conditions such as anxiety, and may have additional insight into complementary treatment options, such as those in the naturopathic or holistic field. If you or a loved one is experiencing symptoms of Bipolar Disorder, reach out for help today, and learn how to manage, live with, and improve your symptoms.