Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder

Most people feel happy and energized on some days and less so on others. But if these mood changes last for a week or more and are severe—making it hard for you to sleep, stay focused or go to work—it may be a sign of bipolar disorder. Not only can bipolar disorder damage relationships, affect your grades and make it hard to keep a job; it can also be dangerous.

You can check a symptoms chart as the one listed below or a test online here.

These online screening tools are not a substitute for consultation with a health professional. Regardless of the results of a screen, if you have any concerns, see your doctor or mental health professional.

Bipolar disorder differs significantly from clinical depression, although the symptoms for the depressive phase of the illness are similar. People who have bipolar disorder talk about experiencing mood shifts. These swings can be severe, ranging from extreme energy to deep despair.

These mood shifts disrupt normal life activities distinguish bipolar mood episodes from ordinary mood changes. The shifts may be mild ranging from sadness to irritability or restlessness. Source:

Symptoms of mania – the “highs” of bipolar disorder

  1. Increased physical and mental activity and energy
  2. Heightened mood, exaggerated optimism and self-confidence
  3. Excessive irritability, aggressive behavior
  4. Decreased need for sleep without experiencing fatigue
  5. Grandiose delusions, inflated sense of self-importance
  6. Racing speech, racing thoughts, flight of ideas
  7. Impulsiveness, poor judgment, distractibility
  8. Reckless behavior
  9. In the most severe cases, delusions and hallucinations


Symptoms of depression – the “lows” of bipolar disorder

    1. Prolonged sadness or unexplained crying spells
    2. Significant changes in appetite and sleep patterns
    3. Irritability, anger, worry, agitation, anxiety
    4. Pessimism, indifference
    5. Loss of energy, persistent lethargy
    6. Feelings of guilt, worthlessness
    7. Inability to concentrate, indecisiveness
    8. Inability to take pleasure in former interests, social withdrawal
    9. Unexplained aches and pains
    10. Recurring thoughts of death or suicide

People with bipolar disorder—also called manic-depressive illness—go through extreme changes in mood, energy and behavior. These “mood episodes” can continue for a week or 2, and sometimes longer, with symptoms lasting every day for most of the day.

Sometimes people with bipolar disorder become very sad and much less active. They have trouble concentrating, forget things and lose interest in fun activities. They may try to hurt or even kill themselves. This is called depression.

People with bipolar disorder also go through periods of feeling unusually happy. They become more energetic and active than usual. They become impulsive and take great risks. They might do things that make them lose their jobs, their spouse or all their money. This is called mania. “They don’t see the consequences of their behaviors,” explains Dr. Carlos A. Zarate of NIH’s National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). “Or they do see it but they don’t care.”

Bipolar disorder is fairly common, but it’s difficult to tell exactly how widespread it is. There are a variety of illnesses that are similar to bipolar disorder, but with less severe upswings,. Researchers estimate that bipolar disorder affects nearly 6 million American adults in a given year. Source:

Children and teens can also have bipolar disorder.Researchers are gaining new insights into what goes awry in the brains of people with bipolar disorder. For example, people with the disorder seem to have different ways of perceiving emotions in others


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