Signs and Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar Depression Refers to the “Lows” of Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar depression is the depressive phase of a larger condition called “bipolar disorder.” It is a tough condition to diagnose. In fact, it could take up to 10 years for people to get an accurate diagnosis. Knowing the signs and symptoms of bipolar disorder may help you and your doctor arrive at the correct diagnosis. Take the Mood Disorder Questionnaire and talk to your doctor to see if you may be struggling with bipolar disorder symptoms.

What Was It Like for You When You First Noticed Your Bipolar Depression Symptoms?

More Signs & Symptoms to Watch For

The signs and symptoms of bipolar disorder are different depending on the type of episode (i.e., manic or depressive). Each episode marks a drastic change from the way a person usually acts and their typical mood.

The "Highs" (mania)

Symptoms of a manic episode may include:

  • Feelings of euphoria, abnormal excitement, or elevated mood
  • Talking very rapidly or excessively
  • Needing less sleep than normal, yet still having plenty of energy
  • Feeling agitated, irritable, hyper, or easily distracted
  • Engaging in risky behavior such as lavish spending, impulsive sexual encounters, or ill-advised business decisions
The "Lows" (depression)

Symptoms of a depressive episode (bipolar depression) may include:

  • No interest in activities you once enjoyed
  • Loss of energy
  • Difficulty sleeping—either sleeping too much or not at all
  • Changes in appetite—eating too much or too little
  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions
  • Thoughts of death or suicide

Children and teens often can develop depression just like adults and show many of the same symptoms above. Sometimes their mood may appear more irritable than sad. Children and teens may also complain of headaches and/or stomachaches when no physical cause can be found.

Adding to the difficulties, in children and teens, manic symptoms may be misdiagnosed as attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). However, it is also common that ADHD and bipolar disorder co-occur.