Bipolar Disorder: Watch for These Prominent Symptoms 

Aug 07, 2023
Bipolar Disorder: Watch for These Prominent Symptoms 
Bipolar disorder (BD) flings sufferers from one extreme mood to the next. Except when it doesn’t. Bipolar disorder is often misdiagnosed as depression. So how can you tell when you — or someone you love — has it?

Bipolar disorder — formerly known as manic depression — classically presents as alternating swings between the hopelessness of depression and the exuberant euphoria of a manic episode. But not everyone who has bipolar disorder (BP) shows obvious cycles between these extremes.

In fact, about 50% of women, men, and teens with BD see at least three mental health professionals before receiving a correct diagnosis. This can lead to delays in up to 10 years to get appropriate treatment. 

Around 20% of patients who complain of depression, and may be diagnosed with it, actually have bipolar disorder.

You can’t recover from or manage an illness until you know what it is. At Precise Research Centers in Flowood, Mississippi, we conduct in-depth evaluations to be sure you get the correct diagnosis the first time around. 

Then, depending on your situation, we may recommend you for clinical trials that treat your condition, including BD.

Do you or someone you love have BD, but don’t yet know it? Following are some signs that can help you answer that question.

Bipolar I: Mood swings are extreme

The classic symptoms of bipolar I disorder are episodes of depression that cycle with episodes of mania. These mood swings may be interlaced with periods where the person acts and feels normal and stable. 

You need only one manic episode, followed by a depressive or hypomanic (i.e., less than manic) phase, to qualify for this diagnosis. 

Symptoms during depressive episodes include:

  • Feeling sad or hopeless most of the time
  • Loss of joy or interest in things
  • Difficulty concentrating or remembering
  • Feeling irritable or angry
  • Lacking energy and motivation
  • Pessimism
  • Self-doubt
  • Feelings of guilt and despair
  • Suicidal thoughts or actions
  • Insomnia
  • Lack of appetite
  • Having delusions or hallucinations
  • Thinking illogically

Symptoms during manic episodes include:

  • Speaking rapidly
  • Feeling and acting euphoric
  • Feeling energized
  • Feeling grandiose and important
  • Coming up with “amazing” plans
  • Taking risks (including financial risks)
  • Being delusional
  • Not needing sleep
  • Getting distracted easily

BDI can lead to a break in reality called psychosis, which is dangerous for patients and those around them. In this type of BD, sufferers often can’t recognize or seek treatment for their disease. 

When they’re in a manic phase, they’re too euphoric and energized to believe that they need help. When they’re in a depressive phase, they’re too hopeless and pessimistic to think that anyone or anything could make them feel better

Bipolar II: Excitement breaks through depression

You don’t need a manic episode, with its symptoms of grandiosity and hyperactivity, to be diagnosed with bipolar II disorder. 

Where BDI diagnosis requires a manic episode, you must have had at least one phase of major depressive disorder for BDII. In place of mania is hypomania, which is a more-energized-than-normal state.

Hypomania has to last only at least four days, whereas the energized state must last for at least seven days to be mania. Hypomania doesn’t interfere with a person’s ability to hold down a job or meet their responsibilities, whereas mania often does. Hypomania isn’t severe enough to need hospitalization, either. 

Examples of hypomanic behavior include:

  • Going into an intense cleaning frenzy
  • Staying up all night without feeling tired
  • Believing you can do anything you want, even without training or experience
  • Talking quickly and digressing often
  • Starting more than one project at once
  • Working intensely for 20 hours or more a day

Although everyone sometimes feels euphoric or more energized than normal, hypomania is a marked departure in behavior for the person who’s in a hypomanic episode. However, they don’t have delusions or hallucinations.

A third type of BD is called cyclothymic disorder. In this type of BD, you have multiple episodes of depression that alternate with hypomania. Some other types of BD are triggered by medications or diseases, including a stroke or multiple sclerosis.

Do you suspect that you or a loved one have undiagnosed BDI, BDII, or other BD type? Call us at 601-420-5812 or book an appointment online for a bipolar disorder diagnosis and treatment today. You can also send a message to our team on the website. 

If you’d like to be considered for a clinical trial, please let us know.