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Symptoms Bipolar Disorder - Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder - General Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder

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Bipolar disorder is a serious psychological illness affecting millions of people in the United States. It is estimated that up to 2.5 percent of the U.S. population experience some form of bipolar disorder.

Bipolar disorder is a very complex illness of which five types have been identified, so far: bipolar I, bipolar II, mixed bipolar, rapid cycling, and cyclothymia. Each type shares some of the same symptoms of bipolar disorder, but the frequency and severity of the symptoms varies.

Bipolar I
This type of bipolar disorder usually first appears in younger people from 15 to 25 years of age, but it can be experienced by older people, also. It was formerly known as manic depression. It is only necessary to have one manic episode in a lifetime to be considered afflicted with bipolar I. Manic episodes are at one end of a cycle that includes elevated mood and depression. They can occur only once in a lifetime or with every cycle, in severe cases. Some of the most common symptoms during an episode of mania include the following:

• Thoughts moving quickly from idea to idea
• Abnormal speech such as talking loudly, rapidly, or with excess emotion
• Hyperactivity or abnormal increase in energy
• Enlarged ego or inflated sense of self
• Careless spending
• Abnormal need for sexual stimulation or loss of sexual inhibition
• Substance abuse

Bipolar II
Bipolar II is also characterized by a cycling of moods, but the manic episodes are removed from the equation. Episodes may appear to be reaching manic levels, but they subside before full mania can take hold. Severe depression can be experienced by people suffering from bipolar II, but at other times, they can be extremely positive and “up on life.” Those who see only this cycle in the person’s behavior are often surprised to learn of their diagnosis. Besides the general bipolar disorder symptoms listed below, those who suffer from bipolar II can experience the following:

• Fleeting thoughts
• Abnormal speech patterns
• Increase in energy levels

Mixed Bipolar
Mixed bipolar is a diagnosis for people who experience the cycles of elevated mood and depression of bipolar disorder in rapid succession. In some cases, the moods can shift so suddenly that it appears they are in both cycles simultaneously. This type of bipolar disorder is sometimes known as mixed mania. Those who suffer from mixed bipolar can experience all of the general symptoms of bipolar disorder with the added symptom of extreme confusion and loss of energy after any episode. It has also been noted that because of the confusion, incidents of suicide are higher than in other forms of bipolar disorder.

Rapid Cycling Bipolar
Rapid Cycling bipolar disorder is similar to mixed bipolar disorder, but the cycles are more regular and not as close together. Symptoms of depression usually last for longer periods than symptoms of elevated mood, so many people suffering from rapid cycling bipolar are misdiagnosed as having depression. In addition, many doctors do not differentiate between rapid cycling bipolar and bipolar II.

Cyclothymia is considered a less severe form of bipolar disorder. Bipolar disorder symptoms are usually mild and infrequent. Cycles usually take the form of simple mood swings. It is estimated that 1% of the U.S. population suffers from Cyclothymia. Because the symptoms are so mild, it can be difficult to discern when someone is first affected by the disorder. Patterns with Cyclothymia are irregular and difficult to predict. Symptoms can be absent for long stretches of time.

General Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder

All of the types of bipolar disorder share in some general symptoms that are related to the swings between elevated mood and depression. The following are the general symptoms of bipolar disorder by cycle period:

Elevated Mood/Mania Phase
• Agitation
• Irritation
• Hyperactivity
• Absence of self-control
• Delusions of grandeur
• Racing thoughts
• Sleeplessness
• Sudden anger/loss of temper
• Impaired judgment
• Overindulgence (food, mind-altering substances, sexual activity, etc.)
• Lack of concentration
• Short-term memory loss
• Easily distracted

Depressive Phase
• Eating disorders (loss of appetite, overeating)
• Fatigue or loss of energy
• Low self-esteem
• Sadness
• Feelings of impending doom
• Sleep disorders (oversleeping, loss of sleep)
• Social withdrawal
• Suicidal thoughts

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