- Psychological Issues
The symptoms of bipolar disorder are characterized by extremes of mood from severe depression to hypomania, mania, and elation. These are far more severe than the mood swings that most people experience and each episode can last weeks or months. Some people have more episodes of depression than mania and vice versa, whereas some types of Bipolar feature a ‘mixed state’, which involves experiencing both mania and depression simultaneously. There is also a type of Bipolar known as ‘rapid cycling’ in which people will experience quicker transitions between the spectrum of depression and mania and won’t feel any stability with their mood.
When experiencing depression as part of Bipolar, a person can have any or all of the following symptoms:
feeling very low or easily irritated most of the time
During the hypomania or mania phase, symptoms can include:
During a hypomanic state, a person with Bipolar can feel many of the same symptoms as those presented in full mania, however, they can often feel easier to manage, pass more quickly and not include psychotic symptoms. It’s not the case that hypomania is less severe than mania however and the symptoms can still have a huge impact on a person’s life.
Someone experiencing a mixed state could feel different combinations of the depressed and manic moods listed above at the same time, for instance feeling extremely depressed but also full of energy. The juxtaposition of opposing emotions can make it extremely difficult for people to identify exactly how they feel and it can be a challenging and exhausting task to manage. It can feel impossible to ask for help and also to know what type of support to ask for. Also, it can be extremely dangerous in that someone could find that they now have the energy to act on any suicidal feelings they may be having.
The symptoms of Bipolar Disorder can be extremely difficult generally for a sufferer to identify themselves as often, the manic phase can be misinterpreted as a time of positivity, high functioning and enthusiasm for life. Many people only seek help for the symptoms associated with depression, so it can help to keep a record of your moods and note any periods of extreme highs. This will help your doctor to assess you accurately and avoid a mistake in diagnosis. Also, the contrast between the extreme highs and lows in mood can often enhance a person’s perception of depression; when compared with hypomania or mania, it can feel completely devastating and overwhelming and sometimes lead to a mistaken diagnosis of major depression instead of Bipolar Disorder.
Also, people with Bipolar symptoms can often use drugs or alcohol to ‘self-medicate’ or control their feelings, which can mask the fact that there is a serious illness underneath.
If are concerned or worried that you or someone you know may be suffering from Bipolar, it’s important to seek medical advice and get a proper diagnosis, as the symptoms can be well managed and controlled with the right treatment. Bipolar symptoms can often be confused with other mental health conditions, such as depression and schizophrenia and only a trained practitioner can make an accurate diagnosis.