People experience bipolar disorder in diverse ways. Symptoms include extreme changes in mood and energy levels, from manic highs to depressive lows. These “mood episodes” generally occur in distinct periods. To be diagnosed with bipolar disorder a person must have experienced a high period at least once; most people, however, experience more lows than highs when they are symptomatic.
It can be difficult to know the difference between having “mood swings” and experiencing bipolar disorder. When the feelings you have, and the behaviors related to them, start to affect your ability to live your day-to-day life, you may want to talk with someone about the possibility that you may be experiencing bi-polar disorder. People who experience bipolar sometimes use alcohol or drugs to cover up or deal with the symptoms they feel. However, this can lead to substance use disorder.
Symptoms during a depressive episode:
- A long period of feeling worried or empty
- Loss of interest in activities you once enjoyed, including sex
- Feeling overly tired
- Difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions
- Restlessness or irritability
- Changes in eating and sleeping habits
- Thoughts of suicide or death
- Feeling overcome by guilt, feelings of failure, or hopelessness
Things to look for during a manic episode:
- Sleeping a lot less, talking much more, acting more fidgety than usual
- Excessive increase in energy and activity levels
- Taking unnecessary risks
- Behaving in extreme impulsive ways financially, sexually, and socially
- Launching into several new projects all at once
- Extremely irritable mood, agitation, feeling “jumpy” or “wired”
- Racing thoughts and jumping from one idea to another
- Becoming easily distracted and mixing up thoughts
- Having unrealistic beliefs in one’s abilities
Could you or someone you know have a problem with drugs or alcohol with bipolar symptoms? Call 303.657.3700 or e-mail [email protected] for help. Phone lines are open Monday – Saturday, 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.