Bipolar disorder is characterized by mood swings in which the individual experiences emotional highs and lows. The highs experienced in bipolar are called mania or hypomania, while the lows are essentially depression. The symptoms of bipolar disorder can vary greatly person to person, but can be generalized in the experience of highs and lows.
The highs of bipolar disorder, called mania or hypomania, exhibit a certain set of symptoms — though mania is more extreme, often disrupting the individual’s personal and professional life. Common symptoms of mania or hypomania include:
- Jumpy, hyper behavior
- High energy or irritability
- Euphoric distortion of reality, exaggerated confidence
- Avoidance/less need of sleep
- Out-of-character talkativeness
- High distraction
- Poor decisions and high-risk behavior
The lows of bipolar disorder compose an experience of depression after mania. Those with bipolar disorder will experience symptoms of depression which interfere with their daily life, including work, school, relationships, or social life. Symptoms of a depressive episode include:
- Feelings of sadness, hopelessness, or irritability
- Disinterest in activities that bring joy or pleasure
- Uncharacteristic changes in weight
- Insomnia or over-sleeping
- Lack of energy, general fatigue
- Indifference, trouble thinking or concentrating
- Suicidal thinking and/or attempts
Bipolar Disorder is understood in three different types, all of them with similar symptoms.
Bipolar I Disorder
A form of bipolar where the manic episodes last at least a week, with symptoms running 24/7. In this form of bipolar, the symptoms may be so severe that hospitalization is required. This form also includes depressive episodes that may last at least two weeks.
Bipolar II Disorder
This form of bipolar describes a condition where episodes are both hypomanic and depressive, but not in the severity of mania described in Bipolar I.
In this form of bipolar, there are hypomanic and depressive symptoms present, but not severe enough to classify as manic or depressive episodes. The symptoms are usually experienced over a few years, versus a lifetime.
Generally speaking, the characteristic indication of bipolar disorder is the swing between manic and depressive episodes. The swings can happen rarely, or recur throughout the year. It is normal for all people to experience ups and downs in mood changes. But for those with bipolar disorder, the swings are extreme. The fluctuating swings in mood, energy levels, activity, thinking, and behavior create great difficulty in those dealing with disorder as the range of symptoms is wider than the average person. Those with bipolar disorder face an incredible challenge in establishing a sense of normalcy in their lives. The mood swings can be debilitating for a person, making work, social, and personal life a discouraging challenge.
Bipolar disorder is most often diagnosed during the late teens or early adulthood. And while the symptoms are generally irregular, regular treatment is needed for those diagnosed to achieve a healthy, sustainable lifestyle. Colorado CBT is a Denver clinic with practitioners who can support those struggling with bipolar disorder. To inquire about treatment options such as CBT for bipolar disorder, please reach out to make an appointment.