How Do I Know If I Have Bipolar Disorder?

women with a coat that says bipolar

What is Bipolar Disorder?

Bipolar disorder is a mental health condition characterized by episodes of extreme mood swings, including manic episodes (feelings of euphoria, high energy, and decreased need for sleep) and depressive episodes (feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and decreased energy). These episodes can vary in frequency and severity, and may also include periods of stable mood. The condition is typically treated with a combination of medication and therapy.

What are Some Symptoms Someone Struggling with Bipolar May Experience?

Symptoms of bipolar disorder can vary depending on whether the person is experiencing a manic episode, a depressive episode, or a stable mood.

During a manic episode, symptoms may include:

  • Elevated mood or euphoria
  • Increased energy and activity levels
  • Decreased need for sleep
  • Rapid or pressured speech
  • Racing thoughts
  • Impulsiveness or poor judgment
  • Agitation or irritability

During a depressive episode, symptoms may include:

  • Low mood or sadness
  • Loss of interest in activities
  • Changes in appetite and sleep patterns
  • Fatigue or decreased energy
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Feelings of hopelessness or worthlessness
  • Thoughts of suicide

How Many Types of Bipolar Disorder are there?

There are three different types of Bipolar Disorder. All of these types of bipolar show transparent signs of major highs (mania) and major lows (depression). It’s important to know what signs you’re experiencing to help you get the correct treatment. Here are the three different types of bipolar:

  1. Bipolar I disorder: This type of bipolar disorder is characterized by manic or mixed episodes that last at least seven days, or manic symptoms that are severe enough to require hospitalization. Depressive episodes are also common in bipolar I disorder, and may occur before, during, or after manic episodes.
  2. Bipolar II disorder: This type of bipolar disorder is characterized by one or more major depressive episodes accompanied by at least one hypomanic episode (a milder form of mania) but no full manic or mixed episodes.
  3. Cyclothymic disorder (or Cyclothymia): It is a chronic, less severe form of bipolar disorder. This disorder is characterized by numerous hypomanic episodes and numerous depressive symptoms that do not meet the full criteria for a hypomanic or major depressive episode.
man in therapy with hands on head

How is Depression Different from Bipolar Disorder?

Depression and bipolar disorder are two separate mental health conditions, but they can share some similar symptoms, such as feelings of sadness and low mood. However, there are some key differences between the two conditions:

  • Mood swings: The most significant difference between depression and bipolar disorder is the presence of manic or hypomanic episodes in bipolar disorder. People with bipolar disorder experience extreme mood swings, going from feelings of euphoria and high energy during manic episodes to feelings of sadness and hopelessness during depressive episodes. In contrast, people with depression typically have a persistent low mood without the presence of manic or hypomanic episodes.
  • Duration of symptoms: Depressive episodes in bipolar disorder can last for several weeks or longer, while major depressive disorder typically lasts for at least 2 weeks. Hypomanic episodes in bipolar disorder typically last for at least 4 days and manic episodes at least 7 days.
  • Impact on daily functioning: Both depression and bipolar disorder can have a significant impact on a person’s daily functioning, but the manic or hypomanic episodes in bipolar disorder can also lead to impulsive behavior, reckless decision-making, and other problems.

Treatment: While both conditions may be treated with medication and therapy, the treatment approach for bipolar disorder is different from that of depression. Medications such as mood stabilizers and atypical antipsychotics are often used to treat bipolar disorder, while antidepressants may be used in conjunction with mood stabilizers to treat depression.

When to get Treatment for Bipolar Disorder?

It is important for individuals with bipolar disorder to seek treatment as soon as possible to manage their symptoms and improve their overall quality of life. Some key signs that someone should seek treatment for bipolar disorder include:

  • Frequent or severe mood swings: If a person is experiencing extreme mood swings that are affecting their daily functioning, it may be a sign of bipolar disorder.
  • Difficulty managing daily activities: If a person is having trouble with work, school, or relationships due to their mood swings, it may be a sign that they need treatment.
  • Thoughts of self-harm or suicide: If a person is having thoughts of harming themselves or ending their life, it is important to seek treatment immediately, as this is a medical emergency.
  • Substance abuse: if a person is using drugs or alcohol to self-medicate their symptoms, it is a sign that they need professional help.

Impulsive behavior: If a person is engaging in impulsive or reckless behavior during manic episodes, it can lead to serious consequences..

One or Both of my Parents have Bipolar Disorder: Will I have Bipolar Disorder?

Bipolar disorder has a genetic component, so the likelihood of a child developing the condition is higher if one or both parents have the disorder. Studies have estimated that the risk of a child developing bipolar disorder is between 15-30% if one parent has the disorder, and between 40-70% if both parents have the disorder.

However, it’s important to note that genetics are not the only factor that contributes to the development of bipolar disorder. Other factors such as environment, stress, and trauma can also play a role.

It’s also worth noting that bipolar disorder can present differently in children and adolescents than it does in adults, and may be more difficult to diagnose. Children and adolescents with bipolar disorder may experience rapid-cycling episodes, irritability, and problems with attention and impulsivity, which are not typical symptoms in adults. Early diagnosis and treatment can be important for children and adolescents with bipolar disorder, as it can help manage symptoms and prevent long-term complications.

If a parent or family member has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, it is important to be aware of the potential risk and to be vigilant for symptoms in their children. If a child or adolescent is showing signs of bipolar disorder, it is important to seek professional help from a qualified mental health professional such as a child and adolescent psychiatrist or a licensed therapist.

Eden By Enhance is Here to Help You

Here at Eden By Enhance we can help you by offering many different services to you and your loved ones. If you or a loved one is struggling with any of these three bipolar disorders, please contact us today. We offer family therapy sessions, residential mental health services, psychotherapy, and medication management. It is important to seek treatment if you or a loved one is experiencing any of the listed symptoms above. We have a professional waiting to answer any questions you may have, and to get you started with treatment today.


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