What Are the Symptoms Of Bipolar Disorder?
The expression of bipolar symptoms is what allows doctors to diagnose someone with this disorder. If you believe you might have bipolar, it is imperative that you seek help from a mental health professional.
However; most people do their own research about this illness before they seek help after months or years of suffering from mania and depression. For this reason, I have provided a comprehensive list of bipolar symptoms.
Symptoms Associated With Mania
- An excessive (gradual or sudden) surge of energy.
- A sense of euphoria.
- A steady stream of thoughts racing through your mind.
- Pressured speech – the uncontrollable urge to talk rapidly or incessantly.
- Restlessness or a need to be in continual motion.
- Irritability or unreasonable bursts of anger.
- A decreased need for sleep (to the point that you may stay awake for days).
- A decrease in appetite so that you have no motivation to eat.
- An overwhelming feeling of creativity that may ignite the need to “do projects.”
- An increased sense of spirituality outside the parameters of your everyday religious views.
- The belief that you have superpowers.
- Paranoia, as if you are being followed or your family is out to “get you.”
- Irrational beliefs that are not grounded in reality.
- Grandiose false beliefs.
- Poor judgment where you act out behaviors you may not otherwise engage in.
- Increased desire to have sex.
- A compulsion to do drugs or drink a lot of alcohol.
Symptoms Associated With Depression
- A lack of energy that leaves you feeling lethargic to the point that you find it difficult or impossible to carry out your daily tasks.
- An increased need for sleep.
- Uncontrollable crying or bouts of unexplained weeping.
- Thoughts of suicide or actual suicide attempts.
- Lack of focus that makes it difficult to concentrate.
- A loss of motivation that affects your work or school performance.
- The absence of joy and the inability to laugh.
- The need to isolate and disengage from social relationships.
- Feelings of hopelessness and helplessness that lead to a loss of self-worth.
- No desire to engage in activities that once brought a sense of satisfaction.
- A decrease in your sex drive.
- Physical symptoms that won’t go away like headaches, body aches, or digestive issues.
- A profound sense of loneliness or emptiness that won’t go away.
- A compulsion to do drugs or drink a lot of alcohol.
Keep in mind that bipolar affects everyone differently. You may identify with some of the symptoms I described and not identify at all with others. Also, you may experience them more or less severely than someone else who also has the illness.
In Addition To Mood Swings, Bipolar Also Expresses Itself Through Thoughts
It is not only important to know the symptoms that accompany manic and depressive episodes, but it is also important to know the thoughts go with them.
I think this is where mental health professionals fall short when it comes to educating people about how bipolar affects the individual. Doctors seem to be very capable of describing the mood symptoms of mania and depression, but not so skilled at explaining the thought processes that come with the highs and lows.
Perhaps this is because you have to actually have bipolar to be able to explain what it’s really like to have it. Who better to help someone cope with this illness than someone who lives with it every day?
I believe the thoughts behind bipolar are much more dangerous than the actual mood swings because thoughts can drive action. Thoughts rooted in depression or mania can lead to suicide, self-harm, risky behaviors, and increased substance abuse. There seems to be a link between extreme mood swings and irrational thinking.
Common Thought Patterns Associated With Mania And Depression
When you are experiencing a manic or depressive episode, your thoughts will align with your mood and be influenced by the emotional aspect of the illness. These thoughts will be extreme, and they will not be aligned with reality. It is easy to believe the messages communicated to you by your mind when it is sick. They sound legit and seem very real.
In considering what my own thought life is like when I am experiencing mania or depression – and getting some input from friends who also have the disorder – I have come up with a few examples of what I like to call “stinking bipolar thinking.” These are thoughts that show up when bipolar rears its ugly head.
The Thinking That Mania Brings Along With It
Believing the thoughts that mania produces can result in risky behaviors that can cause physical injury or long-lasting negative consequences.
When you are experiencing manic thought patterns, you should be very cautious about believing what comes into your mind. In fact, if you are able, it is best that you turn to someone you trust while in a manic state and ask them to stay with you until the episode passes. When left alone with your own thoughts, you can venture into dangerous territory.
Here are just a few examples of manic stinking thinking:
- “I can do absolutely anything. There is nothing that I cannot do.” This can include flying, which might motivate someone in a manic state to jump off a roof.
- “I am superhuman. Nothing can hurt me.” This may result in traveling at a high rate of speed and flying down the highway believing nothing bad could happen.
- “I have to go… (fill-in-the-blank).” This could include shopping, traveling to a distant location, having sex with a stranger, gambling, or any number of situations that have the potential to result in an “exciting adventure.” This thought leads to compulsive actions with no regard for the consequences.
- “I will worry about financial consequences later. Right now, I HAVE TO BUY (fill-in-the-blank).” People in the grips of mania often go on lavish spending sprees. This can result in running up credit cards and draining bank accounts because of the compulsion to spend money on unnecessary items.
- “I have this really awesome idea that is going to make me rich/famous/remembered for greatness. Let me give it my full attention.” This will result in the pursuit of a project that becomes more important than anything else. Someone in this hyper-focused state will become completely engulfed in a specific creative activity and neglect every other area of their life.