As many as 1 in 5 people will experience some form of bipolar disorder in their lifetime. The most common type is called Bipolar I, and people with this condition often experience episodes of mania and depression. While the symptoms of bipolar disorder can vary from person to person, there are three that are considered to be the most defining: manic episodes, depressive episodes, and mixed episodes.
Mania is one of the core symptoms of bipolar disorder and can manifest in various forms. These include experiencing an elevated mood, increased agitation, racing thoughts, decreased need for sleep, inflated self-esteem, risk-taking behavior and reckless spending. Consequently, people experiencing mania often feel energetic and highly creative, making it a common misconception that it’s a pleasurable state. It is important to understand how the extreme nature of this symptom can greatly impact the lives of individuals who experience it as well as those around them. If you or someone you know is exhibiting signs of mania, speak with your healthcare professional to seek therapy or medications that may help ease this symptom.
Depression is one of the three main symptoms of Bipolar Disorder. It can manifest itself in many forms and severely impair a person’s life if it goes unchecked. People with depression often suffer from an intense feeling of sadness, difficulty concentrating, sleeping issues, low self-esteem, loss of appetite, and an overall lack of interest in activities they once enjoyed. It is important for those dealing with depression to talk to a mental health professional about their symptoms to get the help they need and lead a healthier life.
Psychosis can be one of the most disruptive symptoms for those experiencing bipolar disorder. While many people associate psychosis primarily with schizophrenia, it is also a possible symptom that can result from bipolar disorder. This type of psychotic episode is characterized by hallucinations and delusions, which can disrupt the person’s thought process, memory and mood in ways that can be intensely disorienting. These episodes are often difficult to distinguish from mania or depression symptoms, making diagnosis and treatment more complicated; but managing the episodes earlier on may lead to better outcomes overall.
All told, understanding the symptoms of bipolar can be a challenge. Mania, depression, and psychosis are all certifiable and highly serious illnesses that should be taken seriously. Those living with the bipolar illness must stay open to their doctor’s advice, take medication as prescribed if necessary, practice healthy coping techniques, and rely on supportive friends and family for the management of the condition. Additionally, seeking out mental health therapy on occasion may help manage symptoms. Ultimately we hope that this article has served as a source of education and understanding around the top three bipolar symptoms—mania, depression, and psychosis—so that those afflicted with it have access to proper treatment options in order to better manage them.