Bipolar Disorders (aka Manic Depression)

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A bipolar disorder, by definition, is an extreme mood swing disorder in which a person experiences a cycling of episodes of depression and episodes of its opposite, mania.  This experience is far more than just feeling sad and then feeling good again.  It is a sustained and extreme swing from one dangerous mood state to its opposite.  The cycling is exhausting, unpleasant, and intolerable.  Both of the following kinds of episodes, in varying degrees, are present if there is a bipolar disorder.

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Manic Episodes

If you have experienced at least a week of abnormally and persistently elevated, expansive, or irritable mood, you may have had a “manic episode”, especially if it was severe enough to interfere with or disrupt your employment and social relationships, or if it required hospitalization.  These are the symptoms you should look for:

  • Inflated self esteem to the point of feeling grandiose (super-powered, pretentiously impressive)
  • Decreased need for sleep (e.g. feeling rested after only a brief few hours of sleep)
  • More talkative, or pressured speech
  • Racing thoughts
  • Highly distractible (more than whatever is usual)
  • Increase in goal-directed activity or in psychomotor agitation
  • Excessive amount of risky behavior, like spending sprees, sexual promiscuity, or risky business endeavors

The above symptoms are those of mania, unless substance abuse is present.  Seek help from a qualified therapist for a true diagnosis, don’t do it yourself, as there may be other issues involved.

Depressive Episodes

If you have experienced at least two weeks of abnormally and persistently depressed, deeply sad, empty, or hopeless mood, you may have had a “major depressive episode”, especially if it was severe enough to interfere with or disrupt your employment and social relationships, or if it required hospitalization.  These are the symptoms you should look for:

  • Pervasively depressed mood throughout the day (children may appear irritable rather than sad)
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in any activity
  • Significant and sudden weight loss or gain, or significant change in appetite
  • Inability to sleep (insomnia) or inability to stay awake (hypersomnia)
  • Observable restlessness or lethargy (appearing slowed down)
  • Fatigue or loss of energy
  • Feelings of worthlessness or unreasonable guilt
  • Difficulty thinking or concentrating, or being indecisive
  • Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide

The above symptoms are those of depression, unless substance abuse is present.  As with manic symptoms, seek help from a professional for a diagnosis and treatment.  The information here is taken directly from the DSM.

Act to Take Care of Yourself:  Ask for Help.