Symptoms, Signs, & Effects of Bipolar

Bipolar disorder is a mental illness that can severely impact many aspects of a person’s life, including their activity level and cognitive ability. People who suffer from bipolar disorder have dramatic, unexpected shifts in mood called episodes.

Episodes often occur suddenly, and they can make it extremely difficult for a person who has bipolar disorder to function in their daily life. Major depressive episodes involve extreme lows, while manic and hypomanic episodes consist of euphoric highs. 

There are three common types of bipolar disorder: 

  • Bipolar I disorder: An individual has had at least one manic episode that may be preceded or followed by hypomanic or major depressive episodes. 
  • Bipolar II disorder: A person has had at least one major depressive episode and at least one hypomanic episode, but they have not had a manic episode. 
  • Cyclothymic disorder: A person has had periods of depressive symptoms and hypomanic symptoms lasting at least two years. 

Signs & Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder

Episodes can last for days or weeks, during which symptoms persist every day for most of the day. Depending on the type of bipolar disorder a person has, signs and symptoms can vary. 

 Signs and symptoms of major depressive episodes may include: 

  • Feelings of hopelessness 
  • Overwhelming fatigue  
  • Difficulty focusing or making decisions 
  • Loss of motivation 
  • Trouble communicating thoughts 
  • Inability to fulfill obligations 
  • Social isolation 
  • Loss of interest in activities they once enjoyed 
  • Excessive sleeping 
  • Drastic weight loss or gain due to changes in appetite 
  • Thoughts of death or suicide  

 Signs and symptoms of manic or hypomanic episodes may include:  

  • Excessive excitement 
  • Inability to focus on one topic 
  • Dramatic increase in self-esteem 
  • Difficulty maintaining relationships  
  • Engaging in impulsive or risky behaviors  
  • Elevated energy levels 
  • Decreased need for sleep 
  • Rapid speech 
  • Restlessness  
  • Racing thoughts 
  • Hallucinations or delusions 

If someone you love is exhibiting signs and symptoms of bipolar disorder, they should seek a diagnosis from a qualified professional. Bipolar disorder is a progressive illness, which means that symptoms can worsen with time, so finding help early is essential. 

Common Causes of & Risk Factors for Bipolar Disorder

Currently, the cause of bipolar disorder is undetermined, but experts agree that genetics and brain structure may contribute to a person’s likelihood of having the disorder.  

Some of the leading factors that can place a person at greater risk for developing bipolar disorder are: 

  • Family history of bipolar disorder 
  • Alcohol or drug abuse 
  • Periods of intense stress  
  • Traumatic life events 

Bipolar Disorder Statistics 

While the onset of bipolar disorder typically occurs during a person’s teen years or early 20s, symptoms may appear at any age. In fact, according to the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA), individuals may develop bipolar disorder as early as childhood or as late as their 50s. 

The following bipolar disorder statistics are from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH):  

  • At some point during their lives, roughly 4.4% of adults in the U.S. will develop bipolar disorder. 
  • Of U.S. adults who have bipolar disorder, 82.9% have serious impairment.  
  • An estimated 2.9% of adolescents ages 13-18 struggle with bipolar disorder, with 2.6% having severe impairment. 

Potential Effects of Bipolar Disorder

If left untreated, bipolar disorder can have an array of negative effects on a person’s life.  

Effects of bipolar disorder may include: 

  • Employment challenges 
  • Inability to maintain relationships with loved ones 
  • Difficulty forming new friendships 
  • Financial trouble 
  • Legal problems 
  • Personal injury or diseases resulting from reckless actions 
  • Addiction 
  • Onset of other mental health conditions 
  • Suicidal ideation

If you are battling symptoms of bipolar disorder, do not hesitate to ask for help. At Maple Heights Behavioral Health, our caring professionals can help you learn to manage your symptoms, reduce the devastating effects of bipolar disorder, and find lasting healing. 

Common Underlying or Co-Occurring Disorders

People who have bipolar disorder may be at a higher risk for developing other behavioral health concerns, so it’s important to seek care from experts who can offer an in-depth evaluation of your needs.  

When you seek care at our hospital, located in Fort Wayne, Indiana, our team will conduct an initial assessment to thoroughly evaluate your presenting symptoms so that we can provide an accurate diagnosis. We’ll use this information to create a comprehensive care plan that addresses your unique needs.

What Happens if My Bipolar Disorder Symptoms Return?

With bipolar disorder, relapse can occur suddenly. Some people may be able to recognize the return of symptoms, but the truth is, relapse can be impossible to predict. For this reason, it’s crucial to be familiar with the symptoms of bipolar disorder so that you can find help quickly if they return.  

At Maple Heights Behavioral Health, we help each person in our care identify triggers and develop strategies for coping. Our staff members have extensive experience working with people who have bipolar disorder, and they can offer care that can help these patients build a solid foundation for healing. We strive to provide each patient with the education, skills, and resources they need to deal with the return of symptoms in a productive way. 

We will also provide you with a detailed aftercare plan so that you can feel supported as you take the next step on your journey to healing. At our hospital, you’ll have the opportunity to learn valuable strategies for managing your symptoms in the years to come.

This content was written on behalf of and reviewed by the clinical staff at Maple Heights Behavioral Health.