The Recognition Page - The symptoms of Bipolar Disorder
Bipolar disorder involves cycles of mania and depression. Over the course of the illness, the person experiences periods of elevated mood, periods of depressed mood, and times when mood is normal. There are four different kinds of mood episodes that occur in bipolar disorder. Manic-depressive illness is often not recognized by the patient, relatives, friends, or even by physicians.
Mania (manic episode)
Mania often begins with a pleasurable sense of heightened energy, creativity, and social ease. However, these feelings quickly progress to full-blown euphoria (extremely elevated mood) or severe irritability. People with mania typically lack insight, deny that anything is wrong, and angrily blame anyone who points out a problem. In a manic episode, the following symptoms are present for at least one week and make it very difficult for the person to function. These include discrete periods of:
Hypomania is a milder form of mania that has similar but less severe symptoms and causes less impairment. During a hypomanic episode, the person may have an elevated mood, feel better than usual, and be more productive. These episodes often feel good and the quest for hypomania may even cause some individuals with bipolar disorder to stop their medication. Thus, even when friends and family learn to recognize the mood swings, the individual will often deny that anything is wrong. However, hypomania can rarely be maintained indefinitely, and is often followed by an escalation to mania or a crash to depression.
In a major depressive episode, the following symptoms are present for at least two weeks and make it difficult for the person to function. Signs and symptoms include:
Perhaps the most disabling episodes are those that involve symptoms of both mania and depression occurring at the same time or alternating frequently during the day. Individuals are excitable or agitated as in mania but also feel irritable and depressed. Owing to the combination of high energy and depression, mixed episodes present the greatest risk of suicide.