Recognizing Bipolar Disorder in Adults

People who live with bipolar disorder go through a roller-coaster of moods. First, they go through a period of mania and feel like they could take on the whole world. Then they fall into a deep depression that is just as worrisome as the mania. Too many people who do not have knowledge of mood disorders, a person with bipolar disorder will come across as a jerk who just likes to be difficult. Others will simply classify the person as crazy. This is why getting the right information out there is so important. A person who can recognize the signs of bipolar disorder can help themselves or a loved one to seek help. Here is some basic information on bipolar disorder and how to recognize it in adults.

What exactly is bipolar disorder?

It is a mental condition that causes drastic mood swings. It is characterized by two phases known as mania and depression, hence its other name "manic depression". The manic phase is preceded or followed by a depressive phase. Each phase lasts anywhere from a week to a few months. One phase can start right after the other ends, but some people have periods of stability in between the manic and depressive phases. People who have bipolar disorder have periods of stability in between episodes. So, what do these episodes look like?

Symptoms of bipolar disorder

During the manic phase, a person with bipolar disorder will experience euphoria, excess energy levels, irritability and a lack of inhibition. They will also feel like they have the ability to do anything they set their minds to. Their thoughts will be jumbled and they will either talk loudly or at a hundred miles a minute. The result of an unmanaged manic episode can be poor judgment, which can lead to misadventure, or in severe cases, a psychotic break. After the mania comes the depression, which presents with the following symptoms:

  • A feeling of despair
  • Insomnia or hypersomnia (sleeping all day)
  • They may become distressed over the smallest things
  • A person may be unable to do basic things like getting out of bed, taking a shower or going to work or school
  • Difficulty concentrating or forming ordered thoughts
  • Drastic changes in appetite and as a result, dramatic weight gain or loss
  • In severe cases, a depressed person will contemplate suicide and may even act on their thoughts

The signs of manic depression may seem easy to identify but in reality, it sometimes takes a while for a person to be properly diagnosed.

Why does it take so long to diagnose?

One reason is that bipolar disorder is often accompanied by other disorders. A person with both a substance abuse problem and bipolar disorder is hard to diagnose. A person who is hungover or coming down from a high will have symptoms of depression. When they are drunk or high, their mania can be dismissed as the effects of drugs or alcohol. Another reason is that bipolar disorder can be mistaken for depression, especially in people that have less pronounced manic episodes. Also, a person that does not live with people that can observe them may be unable to self-assess. This will leave the medical professional treating the patient with incomplete information. A third reason is that a person can suffer from bipolar disorder as well as a second mental health condition. These conditions could mask the manic-depressive episode.

Bipolar disorder can be managed

Once a person is diagnosed, their doctor will create a treatment plan that involves finding the right medication to stabilize the patient’s moods. The doctor will also use therapy to complement the medication.

Reach out for help

If you or someone you know is showing signs of bipolar disorder, reach out to us to get the help that you need.

Request an appointment here: or call Evolve Psychiatry at (631) 773-1096 for an appointment in our Massapequa office.

Check out what others are saying about our services on Yelp: Read our Yelp reviews.

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