What are the symptoms of bipolar disorder?

Bipolar disorders are characterized by periods of mania (extreme excitement, overactivity, euphoria and delusions) and periods of depression (low mood, hopelessness and loss of interest in activity).

To be diagnosed with bipolar I disorder, a person must have experienced at least one episode of mania. And to be diagnosed with bipolar II disorder, a person must have experienced at least one episode of hypomania and one episode of depression.

To be considered mania, the elevated, expansive, or irritable mood must last for at least one week and be present most of the day, nearly every day. 

To be considered hypomania, the mood must last for at least four days and be present most of the day, nearly every day.

Symptoms of mania and hypomania. The symptoms of mania or hypomania must represent a significant change from the person’s usual behaviour. Three or more of the following symptoms must be present:

  1. Inflated self-esteem or grandiosity
  2. Decreased need for sleep
  3. Increased talkativeness
  4. Racing thoughts
  5. Being easily distracted
  6. Increase in goal-directed activity or psychomotor agitation (a feeling of anxious restlessness which causes a person to make meaningless movements)
  7. Engaging in activities which may have painful consequences, for example extreme buying sprees

Symptoms of depression. A person must experience five or more of the following symptoms for at least two weeks to be diagnosed with a major depressive episode:

  1. Depressed mood most of the day, nearly every day
  2. Loss of interest or pleasure in all, or almost all, activities
  3. Significant weight loss or decrease or increase in appetite
  4. Insomnia or hypersomnia (sleeping too much or too little)
  5. Engaging in purposeless movements, such as pacing the room
  6. Fatigue or loss of energy
  7. Feelings of worthlessness or guilt
  8. Diminished ability to think, concentrate and/or make decisions
  9. Recurrent thoughts of death and/or suicide

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