Bipolar disorder and mood swings
How to recognise patients with bipolar disorder? These patients experience dramatic mood swings, ranging from being extremely 'high', to feeling very depressed, sad and hopeless. They then move back again to the 'high' state, often with some periods of normal mood in between. Besides these mood changes, there are also severe changes in energy and behaviour.
The periods of highs and lows are called episodes of mania and depression, which have very different and recognisable symptoms:
Symptoms of mania
Signs and symptoms of mania and/or a manic episode can include:
Symptoms of depression
Signs and symptoms of depression (or a depressive episode) can include:
What is hypomania?
Hypomania means that the level of mania is mild to moderate. People with hypomania often feel good and may be associated by them with better functioning and productivity. As a result, even when the family recognises the symptoms of bipolar disorder, the person may deny that anything is wrong. However, without proper treatment, hypomania can become severe mania, or can turn into depression.
Psychosis can be a symptom of bipolar disorder
Severe episodes of mania or depression can include the symptoms of psychosis. People may have hallucinations: they hear or see or sense the presence of certain things that are not actually there. Another symptom is delusions: patients have false but strong beliefs that can not logically be explained.
The type of psychotic symptoms reflects the mood of the patients. During a manic episode, they may believe to be a person with special powers or wealth. During depressive episodes, they can believe to be worthless, or to be ruined or to be guilty of some crime.
It is important to note that people with bipolar disorder suffering psychosis are often incorrectly diagnosed as suffering schizophrenia, another severe mental illness.
Obviously, when patients suffer psychotic symptoms, urgent intervention of a doctor is required.
Bipolar disorder: mixed bipolar state
Sometimes, the symptoms of depression and mania may happen together. This is called a mixed bipolar state.
Patients often are agitated, have troubles in sleeping, sometimes even suffer psychosis or have suicidal thoughts. They may the one hand feel sad but at the same time feeling very energetic.
Read more about the Causes of bipolar disorder