Vidyasagar Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Allied Sciences, Nehru Nagar, New Delhi

By Dr. Siddharth Chowdhury, MRCPsych

Bipolar disorder is characterized by extreme mood fluctuations — at one stage, you feel as though you can handle almost anything; at another, you can hardly get out of bed. About 7.5 to eight million people suffer from bipolar disorder. Both males and females are impaired, and the typical signs arise during adolescence.

People with bipolar disorder also have a personal history with the disorder, and that is most common with individuals who have a near partner who has it. (It's important to note that this may happen early in life or later in life, such as in the mid-40s-50s.)

What signs and effects do you get if you have bipolar disorder?

Before you get into the self-diagnosis bandwagon, keep in mind that we're not concerned about becoming depressed about a divorce or having a bad day, or becoming ecstatic about a promotion or a new relationship. We all experience the traditional peaks and valleys of our lives. The telltale symptoms of bipolar disorder are similar to riding the fastest Ferris Wheel, with feelings soaring from the lowest depression to the highest elation (mania or hypomania).

Episodes in Mania-

During depressive states, people with bipolar disorder may feel energetically happy and have boundless capacity. You may make rash assumptions or behave rashly. You may quickly get annoyed and anxious, as well as feel euphoric, have a reduced need for sleep or insomnia, and have rushing feelings or a grandiose self-image.

You might feel elated, as though you've just won the lottery, when in fact, you're slogging through a stack of dirty dishes. Hypomania, which psychotic patients can often suffer, is a milder type of mania in which you feel relatively good–with a greater sense of well-being and efficiency.

his manic period is characterized by a wide range of symptoms, the majority of which revolve around an elevated mood state. They could entail habits you wouldn't normally do, such as staying up all night organizing religiously or going on a spending spree. Manic episodes may cause problems at school, work, and in relationships.

The below are examples of specific signs and symptoms:

  • Extremely upbeat. This isn't your typical happy mood. We're talking about being bouncy and energized sometimes though the scenario doesn't call for it, or getting giddy when carrying out the garbage. It's as though you're not in control of your emotions and are reacting to your surroundings. Instead, you're trapped in a happy mode
  • In a good mood. This makes you very happy; your enthusiasm and vitality are almost uncontrollable.
  • jittery You can picture how reactive you sound when you get this sort of energy rush. Consider the sensation of energy rushing through the body.
  • Your mind is racing. It's difficult to maintain track with all that's going on in your head—you've got a lot of thoughts, plans, and viewpoints
  • Excessively talkative. You're extra chatty and can hop from task to task because you want to share all of your thoughts.
  • Speaking under duress. This is a telltale indication that you're having a psychotic crisis. It goes hand and hand with becoming talkative and is characterized by a continuous stream of dialog without pausing like one might normally do during a conversation. It's as though you're only pushing your way in, not wanting the other individual to speak without shouting over them.
  • People who are experiencing a psychotic episode believe that they will remain up most of the night or that they do not need too much sleep.
  • An abundance of resources. You have a lot of resources and creativity, so you start working on a plethora of different ventures.
  • Unsuccessful decision-making. As one would expect, making decisions during a psychotic episode is difficult. Your feelings are distorted, and your perception of danger and threat is diminished. It's a terrifying combination. You might take chances such as making financial deposits, having sexual affairs, or going on spending sprees.
  • Often busy. It's almost difficult to concentrate on all of this inner racing going on.
  • You're grumpy and/or irritated. It's lonely because you feel that no one will catch up with you.
  • The ability to be unstoppable. You get a big boost of self-confidence along with this burst of enthusiasm and risk-taking. And timid or modest individuals can become arrogant and believe they can do something.
  • Excessive sex drive You're still dreaming about and desiring sex.
  • Unrealistic goals. And though you don't have the money, you're ready to book a flight to Paris.
  • Psychosis is a mental illness. Detachment from reality, which can involve hallucinations or delusions.

Episodes of Depression-

And then there's a low. You can be overcome by sorrow or the need to cry, feel helpless and useless, and have a pessimistic perspective on life. You can have a greater need for sleep, be unable to perform everyday activities, and be depressed. This isn't just a feeling of sadness; for others, it's a crippling depression that may also escalate to suicidal ideation.

This will happen because nothing about your surroundings has triggered your attitude. Psychotic symptoms such as hallucinations or visions can be present at acute mood events in the more serious cases of bipolar disorder

The below are examples of specific signs and symptoms:

  • It consumes little electricity. This is the sort of exhaustion that makes you want to spend the whole day on the sofa or under the covers.
  • A lack of inspiration. You simply don't want to do it.
  • Loss of participation in daily life and a lack of fun or interest in them. This is a typical depression symptom: items that were once fascinating and enjoyable have lost their charm.
  • Constantly feeling depressed, tearful, helpless, or hollow. Imagine feeling dull with sadness, as you do at the end of a very depressing movie while the credits are playing but you can't seem to switch the tv off; it's as though you're immobile.
  • A sense of helplessness. You can't see something positive happening in the future.
  • Changes in weight. An individual suffering from depression can lose or gain a considerable amount of weight based on whether depression suppresses or stimulates appetite.
  • Feelings of exhaustion. You're exhausted and what you want to do is nap. (Insomnia is a disease as well.)
  • The inability to make a decision. Maybe it's that you're hopeless or ambivalent towards anything, so you can't make up your mind about everything, also minor issues.
  • An inability to focus. You've lost your concentration.

And right as you think your attitude has reached rock bottom, the trip whisks you back to the top, filling you with euphoria and boundless electricity. Bipolar depression is described by these frequent mood fluctuations. They may appear as regularly as once a week or as infrequently as twice a year.

Unlike a regular monthly period or an established allergy that causes a reaction, moods have no fixed rhythm or predictability—you can't schedule a work interview or holiday from until when you'll be symptom-free. That is not how the situation works. And there's no rhyme or reason as to whether the depression or the mania would arrive first, or vice versa. Furthermore, the amount of time you spend in one state or the other will differ.

If you know someone who struggles with frequent lows and highs in mood, or are experiencing a pattern yourself, now is the right time to reach out to a mental health professional. Along with professional help and timely intervention, family support plays a huge role in the recovery journey of an individual with a mental illness. Reach out, today is all we got!

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