What are signs of bipolar disorder?

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Formerly known as manic depression, bipolar disorder is a mental health illness marked by severe mood swings.  People with bipolar disorder may experience large emotional highs, known as mania or hypomania, and deep emotional lows, known as depression. The cycling of these episodes may cause a psychotic episode, or a break from reality.

Bipolar I disorder involves one manic episode followed or preceded one major depressive episode. Bipolar II disorder involves one hypomanic episode (an episode that is less severe than a manic episode) followed or preceded by one major depressive episode. Cyclothymic disorder involves two years or long periods of hypomania and depression.

Mania or hypomania

Mania and hypomania are distinctly different mental health problems, with mania causing significant issues in your life at home, work, and relationships. If three or more of these symptoms are present, you may be experiencing a manic or hypomanic episode: 

  • Extremely high levels of energy that make you feel jumpy or wired
  • A feeling of agitation with racing thoughts
  • A feeling of euphoria about you and your life 
  • Decreased need for sleep
  • Being highly distracted and having trouble concentrating
  • Poor decision-making — for example, going on shopping sprees, engaging in risky sexual behavior, or making unwise investments
  • Being extremely talkative and chatty

Major depressive episode

A depressive episode is considered major if it causes significant disruption in your life and relationships. You may be having a major depressive episode if you are experiencing five or more of these symptoms: 

  • Feeling safe, empty, or like there is no hope
  • Major change in your appetite or weight 
  • Extreme sleeping patterns – either sleeping too much or not at all
  • Difficulty concentrating or doing or day-to-day tasks
  • Lack of pleasure in things you once enjoyed
  • Fatigue or lack of energy
  • Feelings of guilt or worthlessness 
  • Desire to harm yourself or end your life

If these symptoms match what you are experiencing, Mental Health Match can help you find a therapist who specializes in treating bipolar disorder. If you’ve been thinking about ending your life, please reach out to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.