Signs of Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder is a mental health condition that causes extreme mood swings. According to the Mayo Clinic, bipolar disorder is a condition that can’t be cured.1 However, the good news is that this condition can be treated. People with bipolar disorder can lead very healthy, happy and satisfying lives through treatment. This article will focus on some of the symptoms of bipolar disorder so individuals know when to visit a doctor about bipolar disorder.

Bipolar man looking through drink glasses

Bipolar Cycles

Those who have bipolar disorder have moods that cycle, regardless of the events that are happening to them on the outside. Rather than feeling a mood shift due to some sort of exterior prompt, like a happy surprise or a sudden injury, they feel shifts due to nothing at all that they can point to, and often those shifts result in emotions of such intensity that they would frighten people who don’t have bipolar disorder.

For example, people with bipolar I disorder shift from episodes of intense happiness or mania to significant episodes of deep despair or depression. Bipolar II disorder isn’t quite as serious, as people with this variant might not have episodes of intense mania, but these people might still vary from deep depression to subtle mania on a regular basis.

Manic Symptoms

For those who develop bipolar I disorder, manic episodes can be intense. In an article in Salon, a writer who had bipolar mania described the episode as a cycle that began with feelings of creativity and happiness.As those feelings began to deepen and grow the writer felt as if he was hallucinating.2 He could tell that something about his mind wasn’t quite right, but he was helpless to stop it.

In addition to happiness and paranoia, common symptoms of mania include:

  • Rapid speech patterns
  • Distractibility
  • Irritability
  • Restlessness
  • Little need for sleep
  • Impulsivity
  • Depression Symptoms

While feelings of subtle sadness might be familiar to almost everyone, those in the midst of a bipolar depression episode feel an extreme form of sadness that might make them feel incapable of handling the tasks associated with daily life. They might find it difficult to even get out of bed in the morning, and if they do, they might struggle with concentration and energy. Sleeping seems to be the only thing that provides any relief, and people like this might sleep for days at a time.

Other Signs to Watch For

Inappropriate or unusual moods are the hallmarks of bipolar disorder, but it’s also relatively common for people with this mental illness to deal with issues involving anger and remorse. At one moment, they might be willing to fly into a rage and attack the people they love, but moments later, they might need or want physical affection. This is also a shift, and it could be a warning sign. According to WebMD, most people with bipolar disorder have additional psychiatric conditions such as substance abuse or anxiety.3 Whenever an individual experiences more than one issue it can make overall diagnoses more challenging.

“I started to feel hope and realize that diagnoses were only references as of where I could start putting my efforts,” Barbara D. writes at Heroes In Recovery. She had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and severe depression, but soon learned a valuable truth: “I wasn’t helpless or hopeless anymore,” she write. “I became my own hero.”

Like Barbara, you can learn to live with hope, not defined by your diagnosis. If you would like more information about bipolar disorder, and what you should do if you see those signs in someone you love, please call us. At The Oaks at La Paloma, we specialize in helping people with bipolar disorders, particularly when bipolar disorders occur in conjunction with substance abuse. Please call now, and we are glad to give you the information and support you need today.


1Bipolar Disorder.” Mayo Clinic, Accessed on April 3, 2018.

2What Does It Feel Like To Have Bipolar Disorder?” Slate, Accessed on April 23, 2018.

3Warning Signs and Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder.” WebMD, Accessed on April 23, 2018.