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How Do I Know if I’m Suffering From Bipolar Disorder?

Bipolar disorder — also known as manic depressive illness or manic depression — is a mental disorder that causes unusual shifts in mood, energy, activity levels, concentration, and the ability to carry out day-to-day tasks. 


Signs and Symptoms

Bipolar disorder includes a wide variety of signs and symptoms. People who suffer from bipolar disorder will experience times of extreme highs, also called a “manic episode” or “up.” They will also experience times of extreme sadness, which is called a “depressive episode” or “down.”

Symptoms of a manic episode include:

  • Feeling “up,” “high,” elated, or happy
  • Feeling energetic, but irritable or touchy
  • Feeling jumpy or wired
  • Decreased need for sleep
  • Loss of appetite
  • Thinking and talking fast about a lot of different things
  • Feeling like they can multitask more than usual
  • Feeling like they are unusually important, talented, or powerful
  • Engaging in risky activities that show poor judgment like excessive drinking or drug use, spending or giving away money, or risky sexual behavior


Symptoms of a depressive episode include:

  • Feeling sad, down, empty, or hopeless
  • Feeling slow, fatigued, or restless
  • Having trouble sleeping (such as waking too early or sleeping too much)
  • Increased appetite and weight gain
  • Speaking slowly or feeling like they have nothing to say
  • Feeling forgetful
  • Having trouble concentrating
  • Feeling unable to do simple things
  • Feeling absent or losing interest in almost all activities they used to enjoy
  • Decreased or absent sex drive
  • Anhedonia (the inability to experience pleasure)
  • Feeling worthless or depressed
  • Thinking about death or suicide

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, bipolar disorder comes in three different forms with slightly different diagnoses — Bipolar I Disorder, Bipolar II Disorder, and Cyclothymic Disorder.  



Bipolar I Disorder

Bipolar I Disorder can be defined either by manic episodes that last at least seven days or by manic symptoms so severe that a person may be taken to a hospital. Depressive episodes can last approximately two weeks for a person with Bipolar I Disorder. Symptoms of bipolar disorder include periods of extremely “up” or manic activity, with high levels of energy and stamina. 

“Down” periods include feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and fatigue. A person with Bipolar I Disorder carries the most extreme ups and downs, with conflicting symptoms that sometimes appear during different periods. For example, a person may experience insomnia during a down period or sadness during an up period. Even if the symptoms occur at different times, when the symptoms are extreme, it can be a threat to a person’s safety. 


Bipolar II Disorder

Bipolar II Disorder includes many of the symptoms above, but with less severity. Someone with Bipolar II Disorder will not end up in a hospital during a manic episode, but will still have a lot of energy and stamina. “Down” periods are similar in sadness and fatigue, but a person with Bipolar II Disorder can usually get out of bed and function for the day, as long as they do it slowly and with tender loving care.


Cyclothymic Disorder (Cyclothymia)

Cyclothymia can be defined by periods of manic symptoms as well as depressive symptoms that last for about two years, or one year in young children and adolescents. These symptoms do not meet the criteria for a true manic episode or true depressive episode. Many people with cyclothymia will be able to function from day to day, with few instances where they cannot.


Bipolar Disorder With Other Diagnoses

Because of the nature of bipolar disorder symptoms, getting the correct diagnosis or treatment can be difficult. For example, one could mistake a manic episode that is a symptom of an inflated sense of power or talent with a narcissistic disorder. One could easily mistake a depressive period for depression, thinking that the person is cured as soon as they hit their manic point. Many who suffer from addiction may be stuck in an addictive cycle after engaging in risky behavior during a manic episode. Because bipolar disorder is so tricky to diagnose, doctors may decide that co-occurring conditions are a significant part of the problem. But treating bipolar disorder can and should be different than treating anxiety, depression, schizophrenia, or other mental health disorders. 



Treatment for bipolar disorder normally includes a combination of therapy and medication. Therapy has proven to be effective at helping people with bipolar disorder identify their true feelings and find validation in their thoughts. Because bipolar disorder lasts a lifetime, a person can learn how to honor the valid thoughts and ideas that cross their minds and negotiate out of the unsafe or risky ones. Talk to your doctor and a therapist if you think you or a loved one are suffering from bipolar disorder.


Bipolar disorder can carry a lot of stigmas, but it does not have to. Many people suffer from bipolar disorder and are still able to find their balance and thrive. If your bipolar disorder has fueled your addiction or vice versa, give us a call at RECO Intensive. At RECO Intensive, we understand that facing bipolar disorder and addiction at the same time can be extremely difficult to deal with. Our professional staff and experienced alumni know that it is hard to navigate treatment alone, so we do everything we can to help you succeed. At RECO Intensive, we cater your treatment plan specifically to you and your needs. Our large range of different therapies and treatment options are meant to meet you where you are, help you fine-tune your diagnosis, and discover what will work for you. Our doctors, nurses, and therapists on staff are ready to help. To get started, call RECO Intensive today at (561) 464-6533. Let’s get back to a brighter future.

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