9 Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder

Manic and Depressive: Understanding Bipolar Symptoms

Bipolar disorder consists of extreme mood changes with euphoric highs and depressive lows. Episodes can last weeks, months, or even days for some and they can sometimes be triggered without warning. Therefore, it’s important to work with a mental health professional to develop a treatment plan that will help treat the symptoms of bipolar disorder.

Mood Swings

Bipolar disorder is most known for its mood swings. However, these mood swings aren’t from calm to angry like many believe. When the symptoms of bipolar disorder start to rear their ugly head, it’s called an episode.

Individuals with bipolar disorder can have manic or depressive episodes. The symptoms of each type of episode are very different. The presence of mood swings, and at least one depressive as well as one manic or hypomanic episode, is a requirement for the diagnosis of bipolar disorder.

Vivid Dreams and Nightmares

Vivid dreams and/or nightmares can occur during either a manic or depressive episode. These dreams can feel extremely realistic and have a chance of being extremely disturbing. The nightmares associated with bipolar disorder can be linked to a wide variety of things.

Sometimes they can be linked to anxiety, or they may also be linked to the onset of another episode. Some adults may even experience night terrors, however, they are rare.

Symptoms of a Manic Episode

Racing Thoughts

During a manic episode, one of the main symptoms is racing thoughts coupled with difficulty with focusing. These racing thoughts can be overwhelming at times and can make it extremely difficult to be productive with day-to-day activities. Subsequently, many who are experiencing a manic episode have organizational issues throughout the episode. They may also seem frantic or erratic as well.

Trouble with Sleeping

Now, this symptom can occur when a person is having a manic episode or rapid cycling. It can also occur for a variety of other reasons. During manic episodes, a person feels less of a need for sleep; they feel more energetic and less tired. Sometimes they may find themselves pacing around their house at late hours of the night. Paranoia during manic episodes may also inhibit sleeping.

You May Also Like

An older person holding a cane.

11 Factors That Put You at Risk for Osteoporosis

Impulsive Decision Making

Impulsive decision making is a common symptom of a manic episode. The racing thoughts, coupled with the potential to have a difficulty focusing, can result in extremely impulsive decisions. Therefore, it’s important to receive treatment as soon as you feel the onset of any symptoms, if you’re already diagnosed with bipolar disorder. If you’re not already diagnosed and you’re starting to exhibit symptoms, you should see a mental health professional as soon as you can.

One of the most troublesome aspects of manic episodes is the potential for irresponsible purchases as well as other erratic financial decisions that can impact you well after you’ve received treatment.

Symptoms of a Depressive Episode

Changes in Your Sleeping Pattern

As we discussed earlier, changes in your sleeping pattern can occur during manic or depressive episodes. During depressive episodes, you may find yourself having trouble sleeping. On the other hand, you may find yourself sleeping longer than usual. You could also feel tired throughout the day even if you slept more than usual.

Lack of Interest in Formerly Fun Activities

Losing interest in things that you used to enjoy is also a symptom of a depressive bipolar episode. This can include interest in the work you do, hobbies, games or even activities with friends you used to enjoy. During a depressive episode, it’s extremely difficult to muster up the motivation and energy to even do things that you love to do.

Heightened Anxiety

Anxiety has been shown to be closely linked to clinical depression as well as depressive episodes of bipolar disorder. Often, this can exacerbate your depression and it can also impact your self-esteem as well.


Being hopeful and positive when thinking about the future is extremely important. However, during a depressive episode (regardless of your circumstances) you’re likely to feel a strong feeling of hopelessness. You may feel trapped in your situation, which can intensify your anxiety. Unfortunately, this can also further exacerbate the symptoms of a depressive episode; these episodes can often feel like a snowball effect.

Living with Bipolar Disorder

The symptoms of bipolar disorder can heavily impact your life. It can impact your work, your schoolwork and your personal relationships. Whether you’re experiencing the symptoms of a manic or a depressive episode, it’s important to reach out to a mental health professional for help. A licensed mental health professional is the only one who can correctly diagnose whether or not you have bipolar disorder. After determining what’s causing the symptoms, they’ll be able to treat you.

Not only will they help you deal with the bipolar symptoms through medication and therapy, but they’ll also help you identify what triggers your episodes. This will give you a better chance to try and avoid them in the future. You’ll also learn the warning signs of an upcoming episode — so the next time you experience an episode — you’ll be able to receive treatment as soon as possible.