Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar Disorder involves unusual shifts in mood state, energy level and behavior. These dramatic fluctuations may alternate between depression, normal mood, and elation and/or irritability. Bipolar Disorder ranges in severity. Bipolar I Disorder, which is characterized by recurrent episodes of both manic and depressive episodes, is the classic form of the disorder. Bipolar II Disorder is more common than Bipolar I, and consists of recurrent depressive episodes with at least one episode of “hypomania”, which is less severe than a manic episode.

Symptoms –
The elevated mood states of Bipolar Disorder are referred to as manic or hypomanic episodes. Manic episodes occur in Bipolar Disorder I and are more severe and disruptive to the individual’s functioning than hypomanic episodes.

Symptoms of both mania and hypomania may include:

  • Excessively high or euphoric mood, and/or extreme irritability.
  • Inflated self-esteem or unrealistic beliefs in one’s abilities.
  • Decreased need for sleep.
  • Racing thoughts, and talking that is fast, pressured, or jumps from one topic to another.
  • Distractibility and inability to focus.
  • Increased activity level.
  • Poor judgment and risky behavior, such as reckless spending, increased sexual activity or abuse of substances.
  • Provocative or aggressive behavior.
  • Denial that there is a problem.

During the depressed phase of Bipolar Disorder, the following symptoms may occur:

  • Feeling down or depressed much of the day.
  • Lack of interest or pleasure in daily activities.
  • Social withdrawal.
  • Loss of appetite, overeating or digestive problems.
  • Excessive sleeping, insomnia or early morning awakening.
  • Loss of sexual desire.
  • Physical complaints, such as headache, backache or other unexplained pain/discomfort.
  • Physical agitation or restlessness.
  • Chronic fatigue, loss of energy or lack of motivation.
  • Feelings of hopelessness, worthlessness, guilt or self-blame.
  • Difficulty concentrating, impaired memory, indecisiveness or confusion.
  • Neglect of physical appearance or hygiene.
  • Thoughts of death or suicide.

Symptoms of mania and depression sometimes occur together in what is called a mixed episode. In a mixed episode, a person may feel depressed and hopeless, while at the same time being agitated and energized. Severe cases of mania or depression in Bipolar Disorder can include symptoms of psychosis, such as hallucinations (e.g. hearing voices, believing something is there that isn’t) or delusions (persistent, false beliefs such as being convinced he/she leads the country, is a famous musician, etc).

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