Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder

As it was discussed in my other article what is Bipolar Disorder, the disorder manifests through two phases: mania and depression.

These phases alternate quite abruptly and the person may feel as if the world suddenly changed around them, from being the place of excitement and great plans to a total depression and absence of meaning.

by Elia Strange


The two phases of bipolar disorder have symptoms, which need to be considered separately (as they are different by nature), although overall they contribute to one whole aspect – bipolar mood disorder.

Symptoms of Depression:

“Depression takes over the whole person – emotions,

bodily functions, behaviours, and thoughts”

(Nolen-Hoeksema, 2008)

Emotional symptoms:

- Sadness (the most common emotion, which feels like a deep, unrelenting pain)

- Feelings of misery

- Loss of interest in life (this symptom is called anhedonia)

- Attempts to do something enjoyable do not bring any emotional reaction

Physiological and Behavioural Symptoms:

- Bodily functions are disrupted: changes in appetite, sleep, and activity levels

- Appetite can either increase or decrease

- Sleep may be disrupted or on the contrary, the person may sleep all day

- Walking and talking become slow and quiet

- Slow reaction to situations around you

- Lack of energy and even fatigue

- Sometimes, physical agitation – you cannot sit still and may move around or fidget aimlessly

Cognitive Symptoms:

- Thoughts of worthlessness, guilt, hopelessness, and even suicide

- Difficulty concentrating and making decisions

- In some cases, a loss of touch with reality, experience of depressing and negative delusions (beliefs with no basis in reality) and hallucinations (seeing, hearing, or feeling things that are not real)

Symptoms of mania:

- The mood becomes elated, often mixed with irritation and agitation

- The view of self becomes unrealistically positive and inflated – a grandiose self-esteem

- Thoughts and impulses are racing through the mind

- The grandiose thoughts can be delusional and may be accompanied by grandiose hallucinations

- Speech can become rapid and forceful

- Feelings of agitation and irritability

- Impulsive behaviours, for example, in the sexual or financial aspects

- A reckless pursuit of grand plans and goals

What is an hypomanic episode?

In a hypomanic episode, a person experiences abnormally elevated, expansive, or irritable mood for at least 4 days.

For a diagnosis of hypomanic episode, the person needs to have at least three other symptoms similar to those involved in mania but to a lesser degree. For example: inflated self-esteem, decreased need for sleep, flights of ideas, pressured speech, and so on.

There is much less impairment in social and occupational functioning, and hospitalisation is not required.

Whereas the symptoms of depression can be viewed as totally negative, the symptoms of mania might have some positive aspects as well.
For example, the person can have increased self-esteem, a rush of ideas, the courage of pursue these ideas, high energy, little need for sleep, hypervigilance, and decisiveness.

These aspects may be beneficial to certain people, especially highly intelligent or talented people.

Other articles you might be interested in:

What is OCD

How is Bipolar Disorder diagnosed

What to do when you are stressed

Life's too f***ing short

Do I have Anxiety Disorder?

...or go to: Archives of all Articles

Archives (Page 2)

Coping with Stress (Home Page)

'Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder' References:

Nolen-Hoeksema, S. (2008). Abnormal Psychology. (4th ed).

Butcher, J.N., Mineka, S., Hooley, J.M. (2007). Abnormal Psycholgy. (13th ed.)

Davidson, G.C., Neale, J.M., & Kring, A.M. (2004) Abnormal Psychology. (9th ed.)

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