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Symptoms of bipolar disorder

Bipolar disorder is characterised by extreme mood swings. The mood swings can range from extreme highs (mania) to extreme lows (depression). Episodes of mania and depression can often last for several weeks or more.

Depression

During a period of depression, your symptoms may include:

  • feeling sad and hopeless
  • lacking energy
  • difficulty concentrating and remembering things
  • loss of interest in everyday activities
  • feelings of emptiness or worthlessness
  • feelings of guilt and despair
  • feeling pessimistic about everything
  • self-doubt
  • being delusional, having hallucinations and disturbed or illogical thinking
  • lack of appetite
  • difficulty sleeping
  • waking up early
  • suicidal thoughts.

Mania

The manic phase of bipolar disorder may include:

  • feeling very happy, elated or overjoyed
  • talking very quickly
  • feeling full of energy
  • feeling self-important
  • feeling full of great new ideas and having important plans
  • being easily distracted
  • being easily irritated or agitated
  • being delusional, having hallucinations and disturbed or illogical thinking
  • not feeling like sleeping
  • not eating
  • doing things that often have disastrous consequences, such as spending large sums of money on expensive and sometimes unaffordable items
  • making decisions or saying things that are out of character and that others see as being risky or harmful.

Rapid cycling

If you have bipolar disorder, you may have episodes of depression more regularly than you have episodes of mania. Or you may have mania more often than depression.

Between episodes of depression and mania, you may sometimes have periods of 'normal' mood. However, some people with bipolar disorder can repeatedly swing from a high to low phase quickly without having a 'normal' period in between. This is known as 'rapid cycling'.

SourcesNHS Choices, UK (Symptoms of bipolar disorder)

 

Last reviewed: 
February, 2013