Bipolar disorder - Symptoms
What are the symptoms of bipolar disorder and how it is diagnosed?
You can only be diagnosed by a psychiatrist who will do a full psychiatric assessment. A doctor will assess you, to see if you have symptoms of bipolar, which are described below. You would need to have two or more times when you experience these symptoms to get a diagnosis.
Symptoms of mania can include:
- feeling happy or positive even if things are not going well for you,
- feeling more active, energetic or restless,
- being more irritable than normal,
- feeling much better about yourself than usual,
- talking very quickly, jumping from one idea to another, racing thoughts,
- being easily distracted and struggling to focus on one topic,
- not needing much sleep,
- thinking you can do much more than you actually can,
- making bad decisions,
- doing things you normally wouldn’t which can cause problems, such as going on spending sprees, being sexually promiscuous, using drugs or alcohol, gambling or making unwise business decisions,
- being much more social than usual, and
- being argumentative, pushy or aggressive.
The symptoms of depression can include:
- low mood,
- having less energy, feeling tired or "slowed down",
- feeling hopeless or negative,
- feeling guilty, worthless or helpless,
- being less interested in things you normally like doing or enjoying them less,
- difficulty concentrating, remembering or making decisions,
- feeling restless or irritable,
- sleeping too much or not being able to sleep,
- feeling more or less hungry than usual and/or losing or gaining weight, when you do not mean to, and
- thoughts of death or suicide, or suicide attempts.
Sometimes you can have psychotic symptoms during a severe episodes of mania or depression. Symptoms of psychosis can be:
- hallucinations - hearing, seeing, or feeling things that are not there,
- delusions – believing things that are not true and that other people find unusual.
Psychotic symptoms in bipolar disorder can reflect your mood. For example, if you are in a manic episode you may believe that you have special powers, or are on a special mission. If you are in a depressive episode, you may feel extremely guilty about something you think you have done. You may feel that you are worse than anybody else or feel that you don't exist.
Hypomania is similar to mania but is less severe. You can get the same sort of symptoms, but they are not as intense or as strong. Treatment for hypomania is similar to the treatment for mania.
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