Signs of Bipolar Disorder in Adults


Bipolar disorder is s serious mental health condition that requires intervention to prevent risks and ensure safety of patients with the illness. Signs and symptoms can range from mild to severe and have a tendency to worsen over time. Seeking help from a mental health professional is encouraged if any signs of bipolar disorder are identified.


  • Diagnosing bipolar disorder includes the recognition of a single manic episode, a single mixed episode or a combination of major depressive and manic episodes. Types of episodes are recognizable by specific signs and symptoms.

Depressive Symptoms

  • Feeling chronically sad, depressed and empty for at least two weeks is a warning sign for major depressive symptoms that can be a part of bipolar disorder. Major depressive symptoms also include a loss of pleasure in activities, low energy level, sleep/appetite changes and excessive or imagined guilt.

Manic Symptoms

  • Feeling abnormally "on top of the world" with inflated self-esteem and grandiose self-image for at least one week is a warning sign for manic symptoms that can be part of bipolar disorder. Manic symptoms also include decreased need for sleep, racing thoughts, flight of ideas and can include high-risk sexual behavior or increased spending that can cause significant financial problems.

Mixed Symptoms

  • Vacillating between sadness and euphoria might indicate mood swings that are characteristic of the mixed episodes of bipolar disorder. Mixed episodes are described as rapid cycling as people might appear depressed one minute and extremely happy the next. Mixed episodes can also include severe agitation and irritability.

Other Factors

  • Encouraging compliance with medications and treatment protocol is particularly important for individuals with bipolar disorder. The risk of completing suicide is heightened. Other forms of high-risk behavior such as increased substance abuse, indiscriminate sexual behavior and excessive spending or gambling need to be addressed quickly.


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