Return to Index
Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder
- Dramatic mood swings ranging from elated excitability to hopeless despondency
- Periods of normal mood in between
- Extreme changes in energy and behavior
- Lasting sad, anxious, or empty mood
- Feelings of hopelessness or pessimism
- Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness
- Loss of interest or pleasure in activities once enjoyed, including sex
- Decreased energy or a feeling of fatigue
- Difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions
- Restlessness or irritability
- Sleeping too much or not being able to sleep
- Change in appetite and/or unintended weight loss or gain
- Chronic pain or other persistent bodily symptoms that are not caused by physical illness or injury
- Thoughts of death or suicide, or suicide attempts
- Increased energy, activity, and restlessness
- Excessively high, overly good, euphoric mood
- Extreme irritability
- Racing thoughts and talking very fast, jumping from one idea to another
- Distractibility, inability to concentrate
- Little need for sleep
- Unrealistic beliefs in one's abilities and powers
- Poor judgment
- Spending sprees
- A lasting period of behavior that is different than usual
- Increased sexual drive
- Drug abuse , particularly cocaine , alcohol , and sleeping medicines
- Provocative, intrusive, or aggressive behavior
- Denial that anything is wrong
- Hallucinations—hearing, seeing, or sensing the presence of things not actually there
- Delusions—false, strongly held beliefs not influenced by logical reasoning or explained by a person's usual cultural concepts
- Disorders of thought—loose associations between topics, "flight of ideas," or incomprehensible speech
- Catatonia—abnormal motor behaviors or unresponsiveness (rarely occurs)
- Talking about feeling suicidal or wanting to die
- Feeling hopeless, that nothing will ever change or get better
- Feeling helpless, that nothing one does makes any difference
- Feeling like a burden to family and friends
- Abusing alcohol or drugs
- Putting affairs in order (organizing finances or giving away possessions to prepare for one's death)
- Writing a suicide note
- Putting oneself in harm's way or in situations where there is a danger of being killed
Range of Symptoms
Bipolar Disorder Type I:
- Having manic or mixed episodes lasting for at least a week, or
- Having severe manic symptoms that require emergency care
Bipolar Disorder Type II:
- Having episodes of depression and then hypomania
- Not having severe mania or mixed episodes
Bipolar Disorder Type III:
- Having symptoms that do not meet types I or II
- Having symptoms that are beyond your normal behavior
Mild Form (called cyclothymia):
- Having episodes of hypomania and mild depression for at least two years
- Not meeting the criteria for types I, II, or III
- Typically occurs before age 25
- Life events may trigger episodes
- Traits unique to bipolar disorder: has mood changes without a clear cause, gets hurt feelings easily, has ideas that disturb sleep, quickly moves from one activity to another, does not usually feel fatigued, works long hours, may not need sleep at all, experiences days full of energy, has racing thoughts and frequent daydreams
Bipolar disorder. American Psychiatric Association website. Available at: http://www.psychiatry.org/bipolar-disorder . Accessed September 6, 2013..
Bipolar disorder. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed.ebscohost.com/about/about-us . Updated August 15, 2013. Accessed September 6, 2013.
Bipolar disorder. National Institute of Mental Health website. Available at: http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/bipolar-disorder/index.shtml . Accessed September 6, 2013.
Depression. National Institute of Mental Health website. Available at: http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/depression/index.shtml . Accessed September 6, 2013.
DSM-5. American Psychiatric Association website. Available at: http://www.psychiatry.org/dsm5 . Accessed September 6, 2013.
Grohol J. What's the difference between bipolar disorder and depression? Psych Central website. Available at: http://psychcentral.com/lib/whats-the-difference-between-bipolar-disorder-and-depression/000906 . Accessed September 6, 2013.
Kaye NS. Is your depressed patient bipolar? J Am Board Am Pract. 2005;18:271-281.
Manning J, Connor P, et al. The bipolar spectrum: a review of current concepts and implications for the management of depression in primary care. Arch Fam Med. 1998;7:63-71.
Price AL, Marzani-Nissen GR. Biploar disorders: a review. Am Fam Physician. 2012;85:483-493.
- Reviewer: Rimas Lukas, MD
- Review Date: 09/2013
- Update Date: 09/30/2013