Every person experiences ups and downs in life, but when a person’s mood swings from both high to low (depression) and low to high (mania), and these extreme mood swings interfere with their ability to lead a normal life, they may be suffering from a serious mental health illness referred to as bipolar disorder. The two different periods or episodes, depression and mania, can last anywhere from a few days up to several months.
Bipolar disorder can manifest as one of four different forms (Bipolar I and II are most common):
Bipolar I is diagnosed where a person has suffered manic episodes, whereby their mood and behaviour is considered extreme. (In most cases, but not all, the person will have also suffered at least one depressive episode). People suffering from Bipolar I may also experience mixed episodes (a combination of simultaneous mania and depression).
People battling Bipolar II experience a mix of severe depression and hypomania (which refers to less severe symptoms of mania – hypomania does not interfere so much with the ability to function normally, unlike full-blown mania). Unlike Bipolar I, extreme manic episodes are not experienced
Cyclothymic Disorder exists whereby a person experiences both manic and depressive symptoms, but does not suffer severe manic or depressive episodes.
Though often used as a collective term for the mental health illness bipolar, ‘Bipolar Disorder’ is a general category whereby only some bipolar symptoms are experienced (sufferers whose symptoms are not characteristic of the above three forms of bipolar are ascertained to be suffering from Bipolar Disorder).
Rather than having one single cause, it is thought that bipolar is caused and/or triggered by a mix of different factors, which may include (and is not limited to) family history, sleep deprivation, high stress, thyroid problems, seasonal changes, substance abuse and some medications.
Despite being a treatable illness, it can be difficult to identify bipolar warning signs. In this article, we shall highlight the warning signs and symptoms of this mental health illness.
Signs and Symptoms Of Bipolar
Manic State – Signs And Symptoms
The signs and symptoms of mania or a manic episode are many, and may include the following:
-increased energy or hyperactivity
-elation or euphoria, or feeling ‘high’
-feeling overly confident, optimistic, or invincible
-rapid thoughts and/or speech
-grandiose and unrealistic ideas or plans
-easily distracted or has trouble focusing on one task at a time
-difficulty sleeping or reduced requirement for sleep
-lack of insight and/or impaired judgement
-reckless, risky or impulsive behaviour e.g. significant and sudden spending
-anger, irritability or aggression
-delirium or hallucinations e.g. hearing voices
Depressed State – Signs And Symptoms
A large variety of signs and symptoms of depression or a depressive episode exist, and may include the following:
-overwhelming and intense feelings of low mood or sadness
-feeling hopeless, helpless or worthless
-feeling irritable, guilty or angry
-loss of interest in activities that previously brought joy and pleasure
-lack of motivation
-slowed movement or speech
-poor memory and concentration
-difficulty completing basic tasks
-difficulty making decisions
-sleeping difficulties or oversleeping
-lacking mental and/or physical energy or feeling exhausted
-isolated or withdraws from other people and social situations
-appetite changes (increase or decrease)
-has trouble taking basic care of themselves e.g. showering
-thoughts of death or suicidal thoughts (this should be taken very seriously)
It is very important to be able to recognise the symptoms of bipolar, as the illness often worsens if left untreated. Recognising and understanding you or someone you know is struggling with bipolar is a great first step. Seeking professional help for bipolar is essential, and with the right assistance and support, you can get back to living a happy, healthy life as soon as possible.
Where To Receive Professional Help For Bipolar
- In case of emergency, call Triple Zero (000)
- If you require urgent support, call the 24/7 Beyond Blue Support Service on 1300 22 4636 or Lifeline’s 24-hr Telephone Crisis Support on 13 11 14
- Visit your local doctor, who can refer you to a psychologist, psychiatrist or other qualified professional who can best give you the help you need
- Visit your local mental health clinic
- See or speak to a professional therapist at Brain Wellness Spa