Bipolar disorder is not the same as the normal ups and downs everyone goes through. The mood swings are more extreme than that and are accompanied by changes in sleep, energy level, and the ability to think clearly.
Bipolar disorder can begin in childhood or during the teenage years. The illness can affect anyone. However, if one or both parents have bipolar disorder, the chances are greater that their children may develop the disorder.
An episode of mania includes a period where someone’s mood has changed and it is elevated (overly happy), expansive, or very irritable and the person also has increased energy at the same time.
Manic episode symptoms may include:
- Unrealistic highs in self-esteem – for example, feeling all-powerful
- Decreased need for sleep such as being able to go with little or no sleep for days without feeling tired
- Increase in talking – talks too much, too fast, changes topics too quickly, and cannot be interrupted; thoughts are on “fast forward”
- Repeated high risk-taking behavior, such as abusing alcohol and drugs, reckless driving, or sexual promiscuity
People who have bipolar disorder may also experience periods of depression. An episode of depression includes low, depressed, or irritable mood.
Depressive episode symptoms may include:
- Decreased enjoyment in favorite activities
- Low energy level or fatigue
- Major changes in eating and sleeping patterns
- Poor concentration
- Complaints of boredom
- Frequent complaints of physical illnesses such as headaches or stomach aches
- Thoughts of death or suicide