Bipolar disorder — sometimes called manic-depressive disorder — is associated with emotional swings that range from the downs of depression to the highs of mania. When your depressive low sets in you may feel hopeless. unhappy, loosing interest or pleasure in most activities. When your mood shifts in the other direction, you may feel euphoric and full of energy. Mood shifts may occur only a few times a year, or radically as often as several times a day. There is quite a range in the experienced symptoms of this disorder. In some cases, bipolar disorder causes a bizarre twist of symptoms where you feel depression and manic at the same time.

We can divide Bipolar into three subtypes. Each has its own set of symptoms. Types of bipolar disorder include:

  1. Bipolar I disorder. Mood swings with bipolar I cause significant difficulty in your employment, school or relationships. Manic episodes can be intense even dangerous to yourself and others.
  2. Bipolar II disorder. Bipolar II is less severe. You may have an elevated mood, irritability and some changes in your functioning, but generally you can carry on with your normal daily routine. Instead of chronic mania, you experience a less intense form of mania called hypomania. Periods of depression typically last longer than periods of hypomania in bipolar II.
  3. Cyclothymic disorder. Cyclothymic disorder, also known as cyclothymia, is a genial form of bipolar disorder. With cyclothymia, hypomania and depression can be disruptive to your quality of life. When you suffer from cyclothymia you will not experience the typical extreme high and saddening depression cause by bipolar I and II disorder. 

There is no one model of symptoms, they vary for each person. You may suffer more from the depression or you may by plagued more with the mania or hypomania. After an evaluation it can be determined what is your main concern. Sometimes symptoms of depression and symptoms of mania or hypomania may all occur in panoply. This is known as a mixed episode.

Manic phase of bipolar disorder

Signs and symptoms as a result of the manic or hypomanic phase of bipolar disorder can include:

  • Euphoria
  • Inflated self-esteem
  • Bad judgment
  • Rapid speech
  • Racing mind
  • Aggression 
  • Prone to be contentious 
  • Increased physical activity
  • Higher risk behavior
  • Impulsive spending and ill-illadvised financial choices
  • Greatly increased ambition
  • Increased sex drive
  • Needing less sleep
  • Easily distracted 
  • Thoughtless or precarious use of drugs or alcohol
  • Frequent missing work or school
  • Delusions from reality (psychosis)
  • Lower performance at work or school

Depressive phase of bipolar disorder

Signs and symptoms to consider for the depressive phase of bipolar disorder:

  • Sadness
  • Anxiety 
  • Suicidal thinking or behavior
  • Hopelessness 
  • Guilt
  • Insomnia 
  • Low appetite or increased appetite
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of interest in activities once considered enjoyable
  • Problems staying on task
  • Cranky 
  • Chronic pain without a known cause
  • Frequently missing work or school
  • Hampered performance at work or school

Symptoms and signs of bipolar disorder may also include:

Seasonal changes in mood. As with seasonal affective disorder, know by the acronym SAD, some people with bipolar disorder have mood swings accompanying seasons. People may become manic or hypomanic in the spring or summer and then become depressively sad in the fall or winter. Or this cycle can be reversed — people become depressed in the spring or summer and manic or hypomanic in the fall or winter.

Rapid cycling bipolar disorder. Some people with bipolar disorder have sudden mood shifts. This is defined as having only four or more mood shifts within a single year. However, in some people mood swings occur much faster, as often as within hours.

Psychosis. Severe episodes of either mania or depression may result in psychosis, a detachment from reality. Symptoms of psychosis may include firm beliefs in a false reality, a delusion, or hallucinations, hearing and seeing things that simply don’t exist.