Bipolar disorder is also known as manic depression. It is a medical disease that causes psychological symptoms to such a degree that daily living activities are negatively impacted. The most prominent symptoms of bipolar disorder in adults are the extreme mood changes which are also known as depression and mania. Those who are diagnosed with this condition may also suffer from other symptoms including psychosis and suicide.
In children the symptoms appear to cycle much more quickly and aren’t distinct the way that they are in adults. Rapid cycling can occur in minutes or hours and can present with mixed symptoms while in adults these symptoms occur over days or weeks and are usually not mixed.
In people who don’t suffer from bipolar disorder they may experience mild to moderate amounts of depression or mania for short periods of time. But the person with bipolar disorder will experience these symptoms for hours, days or weeks. In the manic phase of the condition the bipolar disorder symptoms in adults may present with increased energy, creativity and euphoria. During this phase a person may appear to be talking a mile a minute and exhibit reckless decision making skills.
For instance, believing that they are invincible they may gamble away their savings, engage in inappropriate sexual activity or make very foolish business decisions. During the mild to moderate stages they can be engaging and charismatic and may even draw others into their delusional patterns of behavior. However, as the mania increases their behavior can change to anger, irritability and aggressive behavior toward others who don’t go along with their plans or toward those who criticize their ideas or behaviors.
Common signs of the symptom of mania are racing thoughts, impaired judgment, and hallucinations in severe cases, highly distractible behavior, unrealistic beliefs and feelings of being unusually high. Those who are suffering from mania may also find that their physical abilities have increased which allows them to run for long periods of time without getting exhausted. This is a function of the increased amount of hormones and neurotransmitters floating around in their brains and bodies.
The other side of the coin is the depression associated with bipolar disorder. In these cases the adults can exhibit signs and symptoms that are very similar to major depression in other adults. There are a few noticeable differences. People with bipolar disorder are more likely to have symptoms of low energy, tend to move and speak slowly or to sleep a lot. They are also more likely to have a psychotic depression than those who are suffering from major depression without the mania component.
Adults with bipolar disorder who are suffering from the depression episode will exhibit feelings of hopelessness, sadness or being empty. They will have a loss of interest in things they once enjoyed, will have appetite or weight changes, will sleep either too much or too little, will talk about thoughts of death or suicide, have feelings of self-loathing, shame or guilt and will have concentration and memory problems.
In some cases bipolar disorder symptoms in adults can be mixed. In other words they will have a mixture of the symptoms of both mania and depression. In these cases the adults will be agitated, irritated, have insomnia, appetite changes, loss of contact with reality and thoughts of suicide. The combination of high energy and low mood can significantly increase the risk of suicide for those suffering from a mixed episode.
Although these symptoms are devastating in the life of those who suffer from bipolar disorder there are also medications and treatment protocols that can help to alleviate the symptoms and improve the ability of the individual to function each day.