Experiencing periods of good moods and bad moods is normal. But if your highs and lows are more intense than normal, you may wonder about bipolar disorder. Let’s take a look at this serious condition and how to understand the symptoms.

Many people experience periods of ups and downs. However, when these mood cycles become extreme and affect your ability to find consistency and balance in your daily life, it could be a sign of bipolar disorder.

About 4% of American adults are affected by some form of bipolar disorder. The disorder’s severity, duration, and characteristics can vary between individuals and the different types of bipolar disorder.

Because of this, and because all people have highs and lows, recognizing the disorder can be challenging. At Peace, Hope & Harmony, board-certified psychiatric nurse practitioner Nadja Nelson-Zeno, MSN, PMHNP-BC, and her team provide bipolar diagnosis and management as part of our comprehensive mental health services.

Do my symptoms point to bipolar?

If you’re experiencing intense mood swings, you may wonder if it’s a sign of bipolar disorder. Recognizing the signs of bipolar disorder is difficult because the symptoms vary as do the severity, characteristics, and durations of mania and depression.

Experiencing symptoms of mania?

If you experience intense mood swings, pay attention to how you feel during the ups and downs. Some common signs of mania include:

  • Not feeling hungry/weight loss
  • Feeling invincible
  • Feeling of grandiosity
  • Not needing as much sleep
  • Having racing thoughts
  • Talking very fast or changing topics quickly
  • Feeling wired, extremely happy, or “high”
  • Getting easily distracted
  • Feeling jumpy, restless, or impulsive
  • Participating in risky behaviors (e.g., spending money, impulsive sex, substance misuse)

Sometimes these symptoms may present as hypomania. This means that the symptoms are milder and don’t last as long as manic symptoms.

Experiencing symptoms of depressive episodes?

Symptoms of depression that you may experience during the lows of your mood swings include:

  • Feeling fatigued or lack of energy
  • Talking slowly or feeling slow
  • Sleeping troubles
  • Withdrawing from friends and family
  • Feeling hopeless, sad, or down
  • Problems with decision-making, concentrating, or memory
  • Losing interest in the things and activities you used to enjoy
  • Struggling to carry out normal activities
  • Changes in appetite
  • Thinking about death
  • Thinking about suicide

These symptoms can also indicate other mental health disorders like ADHD, depression, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Look for these additional signs to recognize bipolar disorder:

  • Symptoms of both manic and/or depressive episodes
  • Symptoms started in adolescence or early adulthood
  • Symptoms or behavior that differs from past symptoms and behaviors
  • Ignoring things or people that were important to you previously

Again, if you suspect bipolar disorder or have any of these symptoms, it’s important to seek professional help.

What are the different types of bipolar?

The symptoms of bipolar disorder come together to form this condition, but bipolar disorder varies between individuals since there are three main types of bipolar disorder. Here’s a closer look:

Bipolar I

Mania is the primary presenting problem in bipolar I disorder. It generally causes extreme mood swings leading to risky or dangerous behavior, and even delusions or psychosis. People with bipolar I can have severe depression and even suicidal ideation.

Having at least one manic episode lasting more than a week leads to a diagnosis of bipolar I. Bipolar I can involve at least one depressive episode, but not always.

Bipolar II

Major depression is the primary presenting problem in bipolar II disorder. Though some symptoms of mania may occur, they’re generally less severe and don’t last as long, also known as hypomania.

For a diagnosis of bipolar II disorder, you’ve had at least one episode of major depression and hypomania.

Cyclothymic disorder

Cyclothymic disorder, or cyclothymia, is a type of bipolar that regularly shifts between hypomania and depression. Cyclothymia is less common than bipolar I and II and has less dramatic symptoms. However, cyclothymia can still disrupt your life.

For a diagnosis of cyclothymic disorder, you’ve had several periods of hypomania and depression for at least two years, followed by periods of stable moods.

How is bipolar disorder treated?

At Peace, Hope & Harmony, Nadja first performs a psychiatric consultation and an evaluation to accurately diagnose your condition. She may also do pharmacogenetic testing, which helps identify medications that match your genetic makeup.

Nadja then develops a personalized bipolar treatment plan based on your unique needs and preferences. Therapies include:

  • Medications like mood stabilizers and/or antidepressants
  • Talk therapies, such as cognitive behavioral therapy or interpersonal psychotherapy

Learn more about bipolar disorder by scheduling an appointment online or over the phone at Peace, Hope & Harmony in Midlothian, Texas, today!


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