Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder: Do You Have Them?

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A diagnosis of bipolar disorder, otherwise known as manic-depressive disorder, or simply manic depression, requires the existence that patients exhibit two kinds of extreme emotional state in a repetitive, cyclical pattern: mania and depression. The typical sufferer of bipolar disorder tends cycle back and forth between these two extremes.

With many bipolar sufferers, periods of mania and depression can last for days or weeks, or even for months. Conversely, some bipolar sufferers can spend weeks or months without experiencing either mania or depression. However, after a period of remission, one or the other extreme mood almost invariably returns, and the cycle begins all over again.

How do you know if you or someone you know suffers from bipolar disorder? How do you know they–or you–are not just going through the “normal” phases of happiness or sadness? You must look in turn for symptoms of mania and depression the behaviour of whoever you think might be suffering from bipolar disorder.

There are several ways to differentiate full-blown mania, or even hypomania (a more moderate form of mania) from an ordinary “good mood.” People in a manic state don’t just feel cheerful or optimistic. Often, they feel like they’re bursting with energy, to the point of being unable to contain themselves.

It is common for people who are in a “good mood” to feel relaxed. It is common for people who are in a “good mood” to hold a benign view of the world. without much self-exertion. By contrast, people who are in the throes of mania often feel like they cannot relax. It is not uncommon for a bipolar person going through a manic phase to sleep no more than two or three hours a night, seemingly without any loss of energy. Indeed, if this is happening to you or someone you know, that is one of the surest warning signs of bipolar mania.

Other signs of mania are racing thoughts and rapid speech. If find yourself elated and your thoughts moving from idea to idea, so quickly that it’s impossible to hold onto any one idea for long, you might be experiencing bipolar mania. Conversely, if you notice someone you know talking so fast that you can barely understand the person (especially if the person is talking about his or her plans, or perhaps about a philosophic system that he or she is formulating), that person might be experiencing bipolar mania.

Sometimes bipolar mania can become so severe that the manic individual loses contact with external reality. If you see someone you know addressing saints or historical figures that aren’t there, or appearing enter one-on-one combat imaginary opponents, that’s a red flag. Most likely, your friend isn’t crazy, but has temporarily lost contact with reality due to bipolar mania.

In most bipolar sufferers, mania alternates with depression. If you know someone prone to manic episodes, look for alternating symptoms of depression as well.

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