What is Bipolar Disorder? What are Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder?

 What is Bipolar Disorder?

Illness related to mental health has always been neglected and whenever someone is detected with any kind of mental illness they are straightforwardly termed as ‘MAD’. And same is the case with Bipolar Disorder. Bipolar Disorder was earlier termed as Manic – Depressive Illness which is characterized by severe shifts in a person’s moods and behaviours, which might also include sessions of depression, thus making it difficult for the person to function properly. It becomes highly difficult for such persons to live a normal life. 

The condition typically starts from early adulthood or adolescence but can also occur in childhood or the elderly. And one of the biggest negative aspects of this disease is that people with Bipolar Disorder often end up being not diagnosed and not treated. The mood swings ranging from depressive lows to manic highs and highly impossible to control.

Although there have been many kinds of research and studies were done based on Bipolar Disorder, the exact reasons for the occurrence of Bipolar Disorder are still unknown. The reasons can range from a combination of genetics, environment, and altered brain structure and change in chemicals can be a reason for it. Bipolar Disorder can also be genetic meaning passed on to the child from the parent. And if that is the case then the person has four-six times higher chances of getting diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder rather than any other person with no such family history.

The depressive thoughts and mood sessions can last from two weeks to a few months which is very dangerous as the thoughts can very rapidly change to suicidal thoughts as well. And the treatment of Bipolar Disorder is usually for a lifetime since the day it was diagnosed, consisting of medications and psychotherapy.

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What are the Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder?

As mentioned earlier, Bipolar Disorder causes intense mood swings ranging from depressive lows to manic highs, although this cycle repeats with the change in normal mood in between. And some of the most common symptoms of Bipolar Disorder are as follows:

Main Episode Sign and symptoms of Bipolar Disorder- 

  • Euphoric Mood – An excessive-high feeling.
  • Increase in energy and restlessness.
  • Extreme Irritability – Get irritated even at the smallest of things.
  • Loss of concentration.
  • Fast-talking, super-fast change in ideas, and racing thoughts.
  • Insomnia or Sleeplessness.
  • Heightened sense of self-importance.
  • Increased sexual behavior.
  • Provocative and aggressive behavior.
  • Denying that anything is wrong.

The above-mentioned points are the symptoms for the main episode meaning the manic high, now let’s have a look at the symptoms of the depressive lows:

Depressive Episode signs-

  • Feeling Sad, Anxious or Empty.
  • Pessimistic thoughts and feelings of hopelessness.
  • Decrease in energy and increase in fatigue.
  • Feelings of guilt and worthlessness.
  • Loss of interest in actives that one used to enjoy once.
  • Loss of decision making power and decreased concentration.
  • Excessive sleep or sleeplessness.
  • Extreme Irritability and restlessness.
  • Change in intake of food resulting in either extreme weight loss or gain.
  • Suicidal thoughts.

Even though there are different symptoms mentioned by the well-known researchers and doctors regarding the depressive lows and manic high mood swing but in general there are a few symptoms that will help you identify Bipolar Disorder and those are as follows: 

  • Suicidal Thoughts
  • Extreme irritability and restlessness
  • Sleeplessness
  • Loss of concentration 
  • Loss of decision making capability

Bipolar Disorder cannot yet be diagnosed by blood tests or brain scans, it can only be diagnosed by the mentioned symptoms above. Thus, most of the time it remains neglected because people are unable to even notice these changes in their behaviour for them to take proper treatment on time. 

Types of Bipolar Disorder:

There are four basic types of Bipolar disorders and they are as follows:

  • Bipolar I Disorder – Bipolar I Disorder consists of mixed episodes that is the depressive lows which might last up to two weeks along with manic highs that may last up to 7 days, although occurring in intervals. The manic highs can also be severe at times and the patient may be needed to be hospitalized as well. And the symptoms of depressive or manic behaviour may be totally different from the person’s normal behaviour. 
  • Bipolar II Disorder – Bipolar II Disorder is quite different from Bipolar I Disorder as it does not consist of mixed episodes or just manic highs instead it is defined by a pattern of depressive episodes shifting back and forth with hypomanic (energy level elevated above normal) episodes.
  • BP – NOS (Bipolar Disorder Not Otherwise Specified) – BP – NOS is diagnosed for people who do not meet the diagnostic criteria for Bipolar I Disorder or Bipolar II Disorder. And symptoms for BP – NOS don’t last long enough or are very few as compared to BP I and BP II.
  • Cyclothymia or Cyclothymic Disorder – Cyclothymia is a mild form of Bipolar Disorder and people with this kind of Bipolar Disorder have episodes of hypomania, which shifts back and forth from mild depression in the time span of around two years. However, the symptoms of Cyclothymia doesn’t meet the diagnostic criteria of any other type of Bipolar Disorder.
  • Other than the four basic types of Bipolar Disorder, there is an exception where some people may be diagnosed with rapid cycling Bipolar Disorder. And this occurs when a person experiences more than four episodes of hypomania, major depression or mixed symptoms.

Facts about Bipolar Disorder:

  • Bipolar Disorder is a very common brain disorder.
  • 5 million people or 2.8% of the US population is diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder.
  • The symptoms can be seen from the age group of 18 -25.
  • Hypomania is a mild form of mania that doesn’t affect a person’s work and behaviour outside but still, there are mild changes.

Even though as mentioned above the symptoms are the indicators to understand if a person is having Bipolar Disorder or not, there are few differences in the symptoms of men and women. And they are as follows:

Women –

  • Diagnosed later in life, after their 20s or 30s
  • Milder episodes of Mania
  • Have more depressive lows than manic highs
  • Prone to rapid cycling
  • Experience other conditions like obesity, migraines, thyroid or anxiety
  • Life Time risk of Alcohol use disorder

Men – 

  • Diagnosed earlier in life
  • Have more manic highs than depressive lows
  • Have substance abuse issues
  • Act out (Violently sometimes) during manic episodes.

Thus, it can be said that Bipolar Disorder is not a rare brain disorder, which can be genetic as well in some cases and needs proper treatment and care for one to overcome. There are various symptoms to understand if one person has Bipolar Disorder or not.  But the most important thing is to get it treated the moment you get to know about it, instead of just pretending that everything is fine because treatment is the only way to keep them safe. 


What's Bipolar Disorder? How Do I Know If I Have It? (healthline.com)

Frequently Asked Questions about Bipolar Disorder | Brain & Behavior Research Foundation (bbrfoundation.org)

Bipolar disorder - Symptoms and causes - Mayo Clinic

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