Mental health issues are some of the mischaracterized health problems out there.

Bipolar disorder affects over 2 million Americans. Despite the huge number of people living with the condition, it’s often misunderstood in casual conversation or mischaracterized in media. In turn, that can make it hard to recognize the symptoms.

Here are the telltale signs and symptoms of bipolar disorder.

Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder’s most notable trait is the split between the two “poles” for which it is named. People with bipolar disorder oscillate between manic, high-energy periods, and depressive periods. In reality, there’s some gradation between the two, but we can group the symptoms by their state.

Mania

Mania is a high-energy state, with some common symptoms including:

Compromised decision making can lead to poor life choices, like making poor bets and investments and generally pursuing spur of the moment ideas without giving thought to the associated risks.

Feelings of elation and joy without an obvious source may inspire manic behavior. These feelings are often in stark contrast to previous depressive episodes—people in manic episodes may struggle to imagine other mental states.

Physical neglect occurs as obsessive and energetic behaviors take precedence over self-care. This can include neglecting to eat, sleep, and wash.

Grandiosity can manifest as thoughts of elevated self-worth, often to absurd degrees.

A spirit of invention can drive individuals to become fountains of new, often poorly-conceived ideas, though focus on any one idea is typically low.

Erratic mood spikes can expose the inherent instability behind mania’s “positive” energy. Individuals may become irritable, snap, or lash out if something distracts from their manic state—these spikes often occur in response to others trying to intervene in manic behavior.

Depression

Depression is a low-energy state, with some common symptoms including:

Loss of interest in usual hobbies or relaxing activities. This can make it difficult to unwind or find the motivation to do anything.

Lack of energy can make it difficult to get out of bed or otherwise complete tasks.

Self-doubt can cause an individual to feel worthless or like their contributions to the world don’t matter. They may neglect new tasks due to a fear of failure.

Despair manifests as bleak thoughts characterized by the belief that nothing will get better or that everything is pointless.

Suicidal thoughts are one of the most dangerous manifestations of depression. These can obscure rationality and cause people to think that suicide is the only option available to them. This is never true, and people experiencing suicidal thoughts should seek help immediately.

If you experience any of these symptoms, you should speak to a doctor. To inform yourself further, you can look online to educate yourself on various treatment options.

The Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder Explained

A lack of public awareness is one of the biggest challenges facing the diagnosis and treatment of mental illnesses. By knowing the symptoms of bipolar disorder, you can help your loved ones find the help and support they need or recognize the symptoms in yourself.

Looking to expand your health knowledge further? Make sure to check back often.

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