Bipolar Disorder Home > Bipolar Disorder Symptoms
Bipolar disorder symptoms can range from extreme irritability and racing thoughts to difficulty concentrating and feelings of worthlessness. These symptoms can vary across the spectrum of moods, and may include symptoms of psychosis. Symptoms of bipolar disorder may appear to be problems other than mental illness, such as drug or alcohol abuse, poor work performance, or strained relationships.
Bipolar disorder causes dramatic mood swings, from overly "high" and/or irritable to sad and hopeless, and then back again, often with periods of normal mood in between. Severe changes in energy and behavior go along with these changes in mood. The periods of highs and lows are called episodes of mania and depression.
Bipolar disorder symptoms of mania (or a manic episode) include:
- 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; can't concentrate well
- Little sleep needed
- Unrealistic beliefs in one's abilities and powers
- Poor judgment
- Spending sprees
- A lasting period of behavior that is different from usual
- Increased sexual drive
- Abuse of drugs, particularly cocaine, alcohol, and sleeping medications
- Provocative, intrusive, or aggressive behavior
- Denial that anything is wrong.
A manic episode is diagnosed if elevated mood occurs with three or more of the other symptoms most of the day, nearly every day, for one week or longer. If the mood is irritable, four additional symptoms must be present.