How do I know if I’m bipolar?

Only a doctor can diagnose you of a mental illness like bipolar disorder, but it can help to know what to look for if you suspect that you are manic depressive. It is not uncommon for individuals who are bipolar to assume that they are just in a mood that was upset by events throughout the day. While you do not have to have a mental illness to suffer from depression or feelings of worthlessness, it is not normal to have periods of mania, where your mood is elevated, that alternate to a depressed mood. Distinguishing between what doctors call regular depression and bipolar depression can be difficult, but here are some signs to look for:

You Have Extreme Mood Swings That Range from High to Low

There are four different types of mood episodes that people who suffer from bipolar disorder experience. These episodes include: depression, mania, hypo-mania and mixed. The symptoms during each episode are very different, and knowing common symptoms in each phase is important because the patterns of cycling between each phase can vary for every individual. Here is a breakdown of the symptoms you may exhibit if you are having an episode:

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Mania

Mania is often described as a period where you are in an unusually good mood and you feel energetic and somewhat euphoric. While it is common to feel overjoyed and elated when you are in the manic stage, not all symptoms are positive. People who are having a manic episode may talk fast, have trouble sleeping, become easily distracted, become irritable, and more. In this phase, you may make impulsive decisions that have bad consequences without thinking about the consequences. It is not uncommon to become detached from reality and for their behavior to get erratic.

Hypo-mania

While hypo-mania is still a severe symptom, it is not are severe as mania. Hypo-mania is a very fun and enjoyable state for the most part, where you will feel exuberant without actually losing touch of reality like you do when you have manic episodes. During this mood episode, you will have loads of energy and will also feel much more creative than you are in your normal moods.

Depression

Bipolar depression may be similar to regular depression, but it is not the same. If you are misdiagnosed with depression, taking antidepressants can make your bipolar disorder worse by sending you into a manic episode. If you have a loss of energy, no appetite, difficulty sleeping, feelings of hopelessness and worthlessness, feelings of guilt, loss of interest, and suicidal thoughts, you may be in a depressive state.

Mixed Mania

The fourth phase is mixed mania, which is when you experience manic and depressive symptoms at the same time. Because you are experiencing highs and lows at the same time, it is very common to become irritable and not know why you are so moody. If your irritability is affecting your relationships, you are having trouble at work, or you cannot socialize, there could be a mental illness issue.

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As you can see, this disorder is one of extremes. Some have more frequent episodes than others, and some have more severe shifts between moods. The symptoms that you exhibit may depend on how severe your case of bipolarity is. If you suspect that you are bipolar, it is important to go to a doctor and discuss your symptoms. If you are diagnosed, you should stay committed to a long term treatment plan so that you can have a high quality of life without cycling between moods. By doing this, you can rebuild your relationships and live a productive life.

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