The symptoms of bipolar disorder are quite dramatic and dual. Patients suffer from unpredictable mood swings and various symptoms from its two strongly contrasting stages.
Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder in the Manic Stage:
- Euphoria or irritability.
- Continuous talk, racing thoughts.
- Inflated self-esteem.
- Inconsistent energy, less need for sleep.
- Impulsiveness, (shopping, travel, promiscuous sex, high-risk investments, fast driving).
- Hallucinations and/or delusions.
Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder in the Depressive Stage:
- Depressed mood and low self-esteem.
- Low energy levels and apathy.
- Sadness, loneliness, helplessness, guilt.
- Slow speech, fatigue, and poor coordination.
- Insomnia or hypersomnia.
- Suicidal thoughts.
- Poor concentration.
- Lack of interest in daily routines.
Immediately call your health care provider if you notice four to five of the symptoms of either stage of bipolar disorder in a family member. You must take into account that people suffering from bipolar disorder believe say there is nothing wrong with them, especially in the manic stage. Your health care provider can give advice regarding bipolar disorder and how to cope when symptoms get worse.
There is still a great deal of stigma linked to bipolar disorder so patients of bipolar disorder are reluctant to acknowledge that they are suffering from this mental illness. Health care providers also fail to recognize the disorder because sometimes the symptoms of bipolar disorder seem to be merely exaggerated versions of normal moods. Whatever the case, studies clearly demonstrate that around 75% of cases go untreated or are treated without any solidity.
Specific Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder
The American Psychiatric Association (APA) has a long list of specific criteria for recognizing bipolar disorder. Evaluation of this disorder consists of investigating the patient’s and their family’s history of mood swings or suicide. Other disorders must be ruled out, particularly childhood issues such as school phobia and attention deficit disorder, in addition to dementia, schizophrenia and psychotic states induced by alcohol or drugs.
Drug and Alcohol Abuse
According to one study, drug and alcohol abuse is common in people with bipolar disorder and can mask the symptoms, which complicates diagnosis and treatment. It is important that your health care provider recognizes and treats any drug abuse at the initial stage because substance abuse is a strong predictor of suicide, especially in men.
Before your health care provider can start a treatment routine for bipolar disorder, the patient has to go through a careful physical exam. Blood and urine tests are conducted to detect conditions that could put medical constraints on the treatment choice. A thyroid analysis is an absolute must in bipolar disorder because hyperthyroidism can exhibit symptoms identical to mania. Lithium, which is the principal drug treatment for bipolar disorder, is known to minimize thyroid function. Frequent blood tests are mandatory during treatment to ensure that adequate drug levels have been reached. These tests also play a prominent part in detecting adverse reactions at the initial stage.
Bipolar mania, hypomania, and depression are also diagnostic criteria of bipolar disorder. The unpredictable mood swings of bipolar disorder do not follow a set pattern; meaning that depression will not always follow mania or vice versa. A person with bipolar disorder may experience the same mood a number of times for a period of weeks, months and even years before suddenly having the opposite mood. Also, the complexity of mood stages can differ from individual to individual.
Hypomania is a less complex form of mania with a mood that individuals do not perceive as a real problem. It actually may feel very good as the patient will have a greater sense of well being and productivity level may also be enhanced. This is not the case for individuals who are suffering from bipolar disorder. In such individuals, hypomania can evolve into mania or lead to more serious depression.