Recognizing Bipolar Disorder In Yourself Or Others
Just like each person looks different, the condition can vary from person to person.
It is important to understand how bipolar disorder tends to present. Its not like a light switch of emotions, as many believe it to be. Symptoms of mania or depression may appear over the span of days, weeks, or even longer.
Some episodes may last for a day or two while others may last for a week or longer.
To understand BD, its important to understand the signs of manic and depressive episodes.
Some signs that someone is experiencing a manic episode include:
- Feeling elated, high, or up
- Feeling extremely irritable
- A decreased need for sleep, sometimes going several days without sleep at all without feeling tired
- Changes in appetite
- Bouncing quickly between thoughts
- Risky behavior and poor judgment, such as spending large amounts of money, drinking excessively, or risky sexual behavior
- Grandiose ideas where the person feels exceptionally talented, important, or powerful
Since a manic episode can involve feelings of euphoria, its not unusual for people experiencing mania to want the feeling to last forever. This also explains why many who are experiencing episodes of mania may not ask for help. However, the feeling of mania will end.
Some people with BD will also experience one or more depressive episodes. They may have symptoms similar to major depressive disorder . Some of the most common symptoms include:
What To Do Before Diagnosis
Before your diagnosis, you may experience rapidly changing moods and confusing emotions. It can be hard to describe exactly how you feel, but you may know that something isnt right.
Bouts of sadness and hopelessness can become intense. It can feel as if youre drowning in despair one moment, and then later on, youre optimistic and full of energy.
Low emotional periods arent uncommon from time to time. Many people deal with these periods due to everyday stresses. However, emotional highs and lows associated with bipolar disorder can be more extreme. You may notice a change in your behavior, yet youre powerless to help yourself. Friends and family may also notice changes. If youre experiencing manic symptoms, you may not see the need to get help from a doctor. You may feel great and not understand the concerns of those around you until your mood shifts again.
Dont ignore how you feel. See a doctor if extreme moods interfere with daily life or if you feel suicidal.
Bipolar Disorder Vs Depression: How To Tell The Difference
Written by Casa Palmera Staff
Bipolar disorder and depression are very similar illnesses with one major difference: People with bipolar disorder switch between episodes of depression and episodes of mania. Because these two illnesses are so similar, some people who are diagnosed as having depression may actually have bipolar disorder. One reason for this misdiagnosis is that people with bipolar disorder often only seek treatment during a depressive episode. They may also be unaware that when theyre not feeling depressed, they may actually be experiencing an episode of mania.
Heres more information about the differences between bipolar disorder and depression.
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Keep Going Dont Give Up
Taking the first step toward getting help and getting support from your doctor was a big one. Now, how do you stay motivated? Here are some tips to keep you going.
- Keep talking to your doctor about your treatment plan and progress
- Expect symptoms to improve gradually, not all at once. It can take time to find the right treatment plan for you
- Stay on your medicationtalk to your doctor before you stop taking your medication
- Establish and keep a routineit helps to create stability
- Watch for warning signs that your mood is shifting
It is important that you talk to your doctor about your treatment plan and how you are feeling. Together you can determine the best way to continue your progress.
Information For Family Carers And Friends
How can I get support?
You can speak to your GP. You should be given your own assessment through NHS mental health services to work out what effect your caring role is having on your health. And what support you need. Such as practical support and emergency support.
These are some other options for you:
- Join a carers service
- Join a carers support group
- Ask your local authority for a carers assessment
- Read about the condition
- Apply for welfare benefits for carers
Rethink Mental Illness run carers support groups in some areas. You can also search for groups on the Carers Trust website:
- Rethink Mental Illness: www.rethink.org/about-us/our-support-groups
- Carers Trust: www.carers.org/search/network-partners
How can I support the person I care for?
You might find it easier to support someone with bipolar disorder if you understand their symptoms, treatment and self-management skills.
You should be aware of what you can do if you are worried about their mental state. It can be helpful to know contact information for their mental health team or GP.
You could find out from your relative if they have a crisis plan. You could help your relative to make a crisis plan if they dont have one.
As a carer you should be involved in decisions about care planning. But you dont have a legal right to this. The medical team should encourage the person that you care for to allow information to be shared with you.
You can find out more information about:
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When Is Bipolar Diagnosed
Bipolar disorder is typically diagnosed during the late teen years or early adulthood, says Simon A. Rego, PsyD, Chief Psychologist at Montefiore Medical Center and Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City. Occasionally, bipolar symptoms can appear in children.
To be diagnosed with bipolar disorder, the person must have experienced at least one depressive episode and one manic or hypomanic episode.
What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Bipolar Disorder
In the early stages, mania and depression are common symptoms. However, these periods may go beyond depression and mania. They become longer-lasting and more severe than normal. This is when individuals begin to experience psychosis.
During a bipolar episode, manic symptoms and depressive symptoms can last for a week or more, with some patients experiencing symptoms of both daily.
Look for any of the following signs of mania or bipolar depression to know the symptoms of bipolar disorder:
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How Do I Know If I Have Bipolar Disorder
Symptoms of bipolar disorder vary among individuals. Symptoms typically begin between ages 15 and 25. They usually last several years before disappearing completely. However, some people continue to experience symptoms throughout their lives.
If you recently found that you have bipolar disorder, its time to start exploring effective treatment options and learning how to deal with bipolar disorder in relationships.
Bipolar Disorder Can Be Manageddont Lose Hope
Trying to manage a new diagnosisor an existing onecan be challenging. The following may be helpful to make it seem less overwhelming.
- Stick to the treatment process it may take some time to achieve meaningful progress, but its worth it
- Keep all appointments and talk to your doctor about all questions and concerns, especially as they relate to the treatment process
- Take all medications as directed and talk to your doctor if you need a change in treatment
- Build a routine and stick to it this includes exercise, sleeping, and eating
- Try to be patient improvement takes time and having strong social support can help
- Stay away from alcohol and drugs as their use can influence brain connections, leading to mood swings
Even though bipolar disorder is a lifelong illness, treatment for it is effective. With management of the condition, people can both control their symptoms and live healthy lives.
McLean offers world-class bipolar disorder care. If you or a loved one are struggling with mental illness, call us today at to learn more about treatment options.
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What Are The Treatment Options For Bipolar Disorder
The first step is to determine if you have bipolar disorder.
After that, you need to find out what treatment plan is available. This condition can be managed with the help of skilled and experienced professionals. It is no doubt terrifying to receive a diagnosis of bipolar disease, especially at the beginning of the journey when so much remains unknown.
However, you also need to understand that it can lead to severe consequences if not treated. To learn how to treat these symptoms, its essential to recognize them first.
Getting an accurate diagnosis of bipolar disorder need not be frightening.
When youre ready to start exploring bipolar disorder treatment options, a doctor, therapist, or psychiatrist may recommend starting with any of the following bipolar disorder treatment:
What Can You Do If You Have Hidden Depression
People with hidden depression should discuss their situation with their doctor or mental health specialist. While there isnt a specific depression test to learn if you have depression, your doctor may ask questions about your symptoms and ask about your health history. There are other things you can do to treat your symptoms.
Learn effective methods for reducing stress, such as yoga, meditation, or deep breathing exercises. Learn ways to boost your self-esteem. Try to engage in light social conversations with others. Try getting reacquainted with a hobby or activity you used to enjoy or consider trying something new. Engage in regular exercise. Look for ways to improve your diet. Ask a family member or friend for moral support or join a local support group. Take advantage of online therapy options to help you explore your thoughts and feelings.
Can You Help Someone You Suspect Has Hidden Depression?
If you think a family member or loved is showing signs, encourage them to talk about their feelings with someone. Offer to listen to them and give advice without judgment. Encourage them to learn about treatment options. Offer moral support when they attend appointments. Engage in productive activities like exercise and socializing.
Frequently Asked Questions
- Is it possible to diagnose yourself with depression?
- Lack of energy
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Getting Support From Loved Ones
Ideally, once youre diagnosed with bipolar depression, your loved ones would understand and rally around you with encouragement and support. However, not all of your loved ones will completely understand your diagnosis and what would be helpful. Its OK.
This is your chance to help them understand your experiences and forge a stronger relationship.
Treatment For Bipolar Disorder
If you spot the symptoms of bipolar disorder in yourself or someone else, dont wait to get help. Ignoring the problem wont make it go away in fact, it will almost certainly get worse. Living with untreated bipolar disorder can lead to problems in everything from your career to your relationships to your health. But bipolar disorder is highly treatable, so diagnosing the problem and starting treatment as early as possible can help prevent these complications.
If youre reluctant to seek treatment because you like the way you feel when youre manic, remember that the energy and euphoria come with a price. Mania and hypomania often turn destructive, hurting you and the people around you.
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How To Know If You Might Have Bipolar Disorder
It can feel overwhelming to find an answer to the question: How do I know if I have bipolar disorder? While many consider it daunting, this is not the case. You may be seeking answers to understand the issue better if you suspect you or someone you love suffers from it.
When navigating a bipolar diagnosis, knowledge is power, which is incredibly accurate. By understanding your mental health condition, you will be able to improve your quality of life and cope better.
In this article we will discuss how to know if you have bipolar disorder, what treatment options are available, and more as we discuss the signs and symptoms of the condition.
Why Does Depression Happen
Many people living with depression question why they feel this way and want to know what is behind their sadness. Researchers are trying to understand why depression occurs. Various potential causes and risk factors may contribute to the onset of symptoms. As we learn more about depression, depression symptoms may occur for reasons such as:
- Stress or trauma. Life changes, unexpected loss, feeling burned out, or overwhelmed are changes that may trigger depressive episodes.
- Hormone changes or imbalance. Women may experience postpartum depression after childbirth due to body changes. Menopause and menstruation are other situations that may include hormonal imbalance.
- Family genes. A person may have depression if there is a family history or be at risk of developing it if it runs in their immediate family.
- Chemical differences. Physical or biological imbalances in the brain may increase the chances of developing depression.
- Medical conditions or illness. Certain medications, physical or mental conditions could increase depression risk.
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Bipolar Disorder And Other Mental Illnesses
People with bipolar disorder fluctuate between mania and depression. Because it can look like other illnesses, it can be difficult to diagnose.
Folks diagnosed with BD may experience another mental illness at the same time. Possibilities include eating disorders, anxiety disorders, or substance use disorders.
People with bipolar disorder have an increased risk of developing other chronic medical conditions including diabetes, obesity, migraine headaches, thyroid disease, and heart disease.
Below are just a few of the most common conditions that may look like bipolar disorder or may manifest as additional diagnoses. Anyone who has symptoms of these conditions should seek help from a trained medical professional, mental health professional, or specialist.
Is It Teenage Mood Swings Or Bipolar
As your read through the symptoms, you might be thinking: “Don’t all teens exhibit those symptoms sometimes?”
The short answer is “yes.”
But there are significant differences that a mental health professional will look for to determine whether you’re dealing with teenage bipolar symptoms or one of the other issues misdiagnosed as bipolar disorder.
Typically, a person displaying symptoms of bipolar disorder will:
- Have a history of episodic mood swings
- Be more likely to be withdrawn and sleep more, rather than less
- Be less likely to exhibit agitation and weight loss
- Be relatively young at onset
- More commonly exhibit atypical symptoms of depression
- Have a family history of bipolar disorder
- Have brief, but numerous episodes
- Not respond well to antidepressant therapy
- Have a tendency toward psychotic behavior
- Have a seasonal pattern to their moods
- Be more likely to abuse substances or attempt suicide
As you can see, the differences are subtle but real.
That’s why it’s critical to keep an eye on your teen’s symptoms, even keeping a diary of moods and episodes if possible. That way your doctor will have the most information possible to make a clear and correct diagnosis.
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What Is Rapid Cycling
Some people with bipolar disorder develop rapid cycling where they experience four or more episodes of mania or depression within a 12-month period. Mood swings can occur very quickly, like a rollercoaster randomly moving from high to low and back again over a period of days or even hours. Rapid cycling can leave you feeling dangerously out of control and most commonly occurs if your bipolar disorder symptoms are not being adequately treated.
The different faces of bipolar disorder
Bipolar I Disorder This is the classic manic-depressive form of the illness, characterized by at least one manic episode or mixed episode. Usuallybut not alwaysBipolar I Disorder also involves at least one episode of depression.
Bipolar II Disorder In Bipolar II disorder, you dont experience full-blown manic episodes. Instead, the illness involves episodes of hypomania and severe depression.
Cyclothymia Cyclothymia is a milder form of bipolar disorder that consists of cyclical mood swings. However, the symptoms are less severe than full-blown mania or depression.
Is Bipolar Disorder Treatable
Figuring out if you have bipolar disorder is just the first step. The next is learning about how and where to get treatment. The good news is this: bipolar disorder is a treatable condition. Like many other mental health conditions, with the help of experienced and skilled professionals, you can find a way to live a full life after a bipolar disorder diagnosis.
We feel its important to acknowledge that a bipolar disorder diagnosis can be frightening, especially at the beginning of the journey when so much is unknown. Its also important for you to understand that if left untreated, bipolar disorder can have serious consequences. Its essential to learn more about how you can recognize symptoms so you can focus on how to treat them.
If youre asking yourself, how do I know if I have bipolar disorder, youre well on your way to a positive path toward finding treatment and learning how to move forward. And if youve recently found out that you have bipolar disorder, its time to start the process of beginning to look at bipolar disorder treatment options and learning how to handle bipolar disorder in relationships.
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Bipolar Disorder Or Depression
Doctors sometimes find it hard to distinguish between bipolar disorder and depression, and this can lead to misdiagnosis. People with bipolar disorder are more likely to seek help during a low mood because depression is more likely to have a negative impact on their health and wellbeing. During a high mood, they may feel exceptionally well.
Factors that increase the chance of this happening include the following:
- Depression is the dominant mood.
- Depression is the first episode you have.
- You have experienced mania or hypomania but not realized it could be significant.
Its essential to get an accurate diagnosis in order to work out a treatment plan. Antidepressants may not be effective in treating bipolar disorder.
In addition, some antidepressant medications can trigger a first manic or hypomanic episode if youre susceptible to them, and this could complicate both treatment and the outcome.
If you go to see your doctor with depression, be sure to tell them about any of the following, as these can help get an accurate diagnosis:
- a family history of bipolar disorder or other mental health conditions
- any other conditions that affect your mental or physical wellbeing
- any medications, drugs, or other substances youre taking or have used in the past
- if youve already tried antidepressants and they did not help