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Bipolar disorder symptoms

2-minute read

Bipolar disorder is characterised by extreme mood swings that interfere with your everyday life. The mood swings can range from extreme highs (mania) to extreme lows (depression). Episodes of mania and depression can often last for weeks or even months.

Depression

During a period of depression, your symptoms may include:

  • feeling sad and hopelessness
  • lacking energy
  • difficulty concentrating and remembering things
  • loss of interest in everyday activities
  • feelings of worthlessness or emptiness
  • 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
  • weight loss or gain
  • difficulty doing small tasks or making decisions

Mania

The manic phase of bipolar disorder may include:

  • increased energy
  • feeling very happy, elated or overjoyed
  • talking very quickly
  • racing thoughts
  • feeling full of energy
  • feeling self-important
  • feeling full of great new ideas and having important plans
  • working towards a goal, such as staying up all night to get something finished
  • being easily distracted
  • being easily irritated or agitated
  • being delusional, having hallucinations and disturbed or illogical thinking
  • not feeling like sleeping
  • not eating
  • increased sex drive
  • 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

Patterns of depression and mania

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'. Others may experience symptoms of both mania and depression at the same time.

Last reviewed: July 2018

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