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What You Need to Know About Bipolar Symptoms

Behavioral changes and mood changes vary depending on whether a person is in a manic or depressive state.

What You Need to Know About Bipolar Symptoms

Bipolar disorder, often called manic depression, is a mental disorder marked by extreme shifts in mood and energy levels. These mood changes are sometimes so severe that they get in the way of daily activities.

Bipolar disorder affects men and women, with symptoms usually appearing during their early twenties or even earlier. Symptoms of bipolar disorder vary, depending on whether the person is in a manic or depressive state. Sometimes manic symptoms are mild, a condition known as hypomania.

Symptoms of a manic episode may include:

Mood changes

  • Feeling overly excited, happy and energetic
  • Feeling extremely irritable

Behavioral changes

  • Feeling impulsive
  • Poor judgment
  • Aggressive behavior
  • Talking too fast, taking on too many projects and having racing thoughts
  • Being restless or easily distracted
  • ​Not sleeping or even feeling tired

Conversely, the symptoms of a depressive episode may include:

Mood changes

  • Feeling sad, hopeless and depressed for a long period of time
  • Loss of interest in once-loved hobbies and activities
  • Feeling irritable

Behavioral changes

  • Fatigue
  • Memory problems and trouble making decisions
  • Having suicidal thoughts
  • Feeling restless

Manic or depressive episodes may last for weeks or months at a time, and may occur at irregular intervals. Because of its unpredictability, it’s important to talk to a doctor or mental health professional if you think you have bipolar disorder, as the disease may worsen if left untreated.

Medically reviewed in February 2020.

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