Signs You Might Have Bipolar Disorder

Jun 10, 2024
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Bipolar disorder is well-known — at least, the word “bipolar” is. But, when asked about the signs of the disorder, many people aren’t quite sure. Bipolar disorder is probably not what you think, and the signs may surprise you.

At least 4% of Americans experience bipolar disorder during their lifetime — with many others undiagnosed. Embarrassment, mental health stigmas, and a lack of awareness about the signs of the disorder may all contribute to people with bipolar disorder not getting the necessary help. 

At Point of View Mental Health, our experienced mental health specialist Thomas Pearson, PA-C, and patient-focused team understand bipolar disorder and its challenges well. We’re here to remove barriers to mental health care so you can get the support you need. 

One of our main goals in patient care is helping every patient understand their symptoms, diagnosis, and disorder. We provide this expert care through telehealth visits in Scottsdale, Arizona, and throughout the state. 

Our blog is another way to reach our patients and share vital mental health care information. Today, we discuss the signs that you might have bipolar disorder. If you recognize these signs, don’t hesitate to contact us. 

The intense mood changes of bipolar disorder

About 60% of Americans know that bipolar disorder involves mood changes, but most don’t understand the specifics. Bipolar disorder causes dramatic mood shifts, and a wide range of symptoms may occur when the mood shifts happen. 

Bipolar I disorder causes manias episodes of high mood. It may also feature depressive episodes (episodes of low mood). Bipolar II disorder features depressive episodes, with periods of hypomania (like mania but not so intense). 

With bipolar disorder, mood changes are intense and last a long time. People with bipolar disorder don’t switch moods many times a day, every day, although that’s a common misconception. The mood changes of bipolar disorder are often debilitating unless you get treatment.

Signs of bipolar mania 

Bipolar manic episodes last a minimum of a week. Some of the signs that you may be in a manic episode are:

  • Feeling abnormally “up”, happy, or euphoric
  • Sleeping less than normal
  • Feeling restless or agitated
  • Racing thoughts
  • Being easily distracted
  • Speaking faster than usual 
  • Impulsive actions (often including risky behaviors like drinking or gambling)
  • Feeling overly confident
  • Starting new projects or taking on too much at one time

With bipolar I, these symptoms are a significant change from the usual. Although you can observe many of these changes yourself, loved ones are frequently the first to realize that something has changed. 

Signs of bipolar depression 

Bipolar depressive episodes last for at least two weeks. Some of the signs you might be in the midst of a depressive episode are: 

  • Persistent deep feelings of sadness
  • Feelings of hopelessness
  • Feelings of guilt and self-blame
  • Tiredness
  • Appetite changes
  • Sleep habit changes 
  • Poor concentration
  • Losing interest in the activities you enjoy
  • Thoughts of death or self-harm
  • Slower speech (generally noted by others)

Bipolar depressive episodes can last much longer than a couple of weeks, sometimes even months or years. Hypomanic episodes happen between the depressive episodes (but much less often) and last at least four days.

Signs of cyclothymic disorder 

The American Psychiatric Association calls cyclothymic disorder a milder type of bipolar disorder. Although the mood changes aren’t as intense, you can experience both manic and depressive symptoms with cyclothymic disorder. 

With cyclothymic disorder, symptoms happen on and off for at least two years. Over that period, symptoms (either depression or mania) occur at least 50% of the time. And symptom-free periods don’t last longer than two months.

Bipolar disorder help is a click or phone call away 

If you think you might have bipolar disorder,  we’re here to help you let go of your stress and worry so you can start healing. We understand what you’re facing and have solutions to help you.

We usually treat bipolar disorder with a combination of therapy, medication, and lifestyle support. You get personalized care every step of the way to help you feel your best. 

Point of View Mental Health provides empathetic, no judgment, mental health care in the way that is most accessible for you. Call our Scottsdale office or connect with us online today.