Are You Bipolar? Learn to Recognize the Signs

Bipolar disorder, also known as manic depression, is a complex mental illness that affects both men and women throughout the world.  Although there are different types of bipolar disorder, there are common behavioral symptoms that are characteristic of this condition. 


Bipolar disorder is very difficult to cure on its own, and can become debilitating without proper treatment.  If you think you may suffer from bipolar disorder, or are experiencing any of the following symptoms, contact a physician for an evaluation.  It may be the best decision you ever made.


Bipolar Disorder: Mood Swings


The primary symptom of bipolar disorder is unpredictable, often extreme changes in mood.  There are thought to be four types of bipolar disorder: Mania, which are periods of extreme emotional highs; Depression, which is described as extreme emotional lows; Mixed Bipolar, which is a combination of both mania and depression; and Hypomania, which is characterized by mild symptoms of mania and normally doesn’t affect a person’s normal functioning.


Sign 1: Symptoms of Mania

Signs of mania caused by bipolar disorder include extreme euphoria or optimism, inflated self-esteem, racing thoughts, rapid speech, irritability, increased physical and sexual activity, risky behavior and poor decision making, including financial recklessness, agitation or aggressive behavior, decreased need for sleep, and poor concentration and performance at work or school.


Sign 2: Symptoms of Depression

Signs of depression caused by bipolar disorder include sadness, excessive crying, feelings of hopelessness, thoughts of death or suicide, anxiety, difficulty sleeping, changes in appetite, weight loss or weight gain, fatigue, poor concentration, chronic pain and absence from work or school.


Diagnosing Bipolar Disorder


It is important for bipolar disorder to be diagnosed as soon as possible, as an affected person’s abnormal behavior can cause him/ her to suffer consequences (as well as friends and family) above mental distress. 


For instance, during periods of mania, it is common for a bipolar person to engage in risky financial decisions, such as outlandish shopping sprees and impulsive financial contracts, and experience an increased sexual drive that can cause relationship problems.  During periods of depression, a person suffering from bipolar disorder can often abuse drugs or alcohol to combat symptoms of sadness, or fail to attend work or school.


Treatment for Bipolar Disorder


There are many medications that are available to treat bipolar disorder, as well as psychotherapy and changes made to diet and exercise.  The most important thing is that treatment is sought from your doctor.  People with bipolar disorder often ignore key symptoms of the illness and attribute their odd mood swings to hormones (especially for women, both pre and post menopause), or simply a change in life circumstances (job loss or gain, a new marriage or divorce, etc.).


In addition, many bipolar patients actually enjoy manic episodes and are willing to suffer through periods of depression until they pass.  But without treatment, periods of depression associated with bipolar disorder are likely to become prolonged, and increase in intensity.


Suffering from untreated bipolar disorder hurts everyone.  You deserve to live a full life without the debilitating affects of such a treatable illness.  If you are worried that you may be bipolar, contact your doctor or other health professional for a thorough evaluation.  In many cases, bipolar disorder is often masking other illnesses, such as anxiety disorder and generalized depression.

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