Bipolar Disorder: Signs & Symptoms

Bipolar disorder is identified by mood swings. If your mood often swings back and forth from severe lows (depression) to unrealistic or unstable highs (mania), you may have bipolar disorder. These periods are called episodes.

Do the Following Types of Episodes Sound Familiar

Use the following examples as a guideline. If you think these episodes describe you, report them to your doctor for a proper diagnosis of your medical condition. Bipolar is a serious, life-long illness, but it can be controlled with treatment.

✅ Depression: Everyone has occasional low periods in life, but that’s not unusual. It is unusual to have periods so low and prolonged that they affect your ability to function. Losing your desire to get out of bed, eat, or take part in activities that once brought you joy are some of the signs of depression. You may be so intensely sad that you have thoughts of death.

✅  Mania: Mania is the flip side of depression. You feel good at first, but your feelings escalate to racing thoughts and ideas and youcannot stay focused. You may become agitated, highly irritable, and engage in risky behaviors without regard to your own well-being. Mania doesn’t always feel like a “high,” but it can be expressed as volatility, anger, or even violent outbursts.

✅  Hypomania: Hypomania is a milder form of mania. You may be productive and feeling better than ever or you may feel angrier. Your feelings could escalate into mania or backslide into depression if you have bipolar illness.

✅  Mixed: You may feel as if you are caught in a wave that tosses you back and forth between the depths of depression and the heights of mania. When this happens on the same day, it may mean you are possibly at risk for suicide.

Treatment of bipolar disorder involves the use of medications. Your doctor will seek the right combination that works best for you. Mood stabilizers help prevent mood swings and antidepressants may help control depression. Your doctor may use other medications as needed to address issues such as sleeplessness or irritability. There are new advances in medicines helping both phases of this illness.

What Role Do You Play in Getting Better

✅  Research bipolar disorder and encourage your family to do the same. Your knowledge will help you become an active participant in your care, and your family will have a better understanding of your medical situation and how they can help you.
✅  Take your medications as prescribed by your doctor. You may want to stop your medications when you start to feel better but do not give in to the temptation. It will only set your treatment back.
✅  Establish a regular routine of going to bed and getting up at the same time every day. Exercise, unless your doctor tells you not to, and eat on a regular schedule.
✅  Be your own watchdog. If you notice changes in your mood or behavior, tell your doctor.
✅  Avoid stress, if possible.
✅  Ask your doctor how much, if any, alcohol you can drink and about the use of any medications that are not prescribed as part of your care.
✅  Consider joining a support group to share experiences and information.

Source: LifeSynch – a Humana company