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Bipolar Disorder: What Are Its Symptoms?

Bipolar disorder, or manic depression as it was called earlier, can be hard to diagnose. Its symptoms are very common, and may be mistaken for everyday mood swings. This kind of disorder has two stages: first in manic — when the patient becomes highly active and has an uplifted mood; and the second is depression — when the patient feels low and discouraged. Sometimes, the symptoms are so intense that it interferes with an individuals day-to-day routine. But until it does, there is no distinct way we can identify the symptoms of bipolar disorder. More often than not, we tend to believe that it must be a bad day at work or symptoms of stress and fatigue. If you know someone who seem to be experiencing intense mood swings, look out for these signs that might help you understand if the person has bipolar disorder or not.

They Can’t Complete Tasks

People suffering from bipolar disorder can be highly productive when they are in the manic stage. They usually start several unrealistic and grand projects all at once, but as they slip into the depression stage, the projects that they have started remain incomplete.  Patients find it hard to focus, and completing a task becomes almost impossible. Hence, they have trouble at work, too, which prompts them to miss their jobs. Additionally, during the manic stage, patients have trouble falling asleep, whereas during the second stage, they sleep too much. This can hamper their daily routine, and get them in a mess at their workplace.

They Feel Low

Since depression is one of the two stages of bipolar disorder, feeling low is natural. All the symptoms of a normal depression happen during this stage. Loss of appetite, insomnia, and sluggishness are the clear signs. Also, expect them to be grumpy or easily irritated for no reason at all, or come up with excuses to avoid social gatherings. One thing must be mentioned in this context. Anti-depressants do not work well for bipolar patients, hence, avoid them at all costs. Often, anti-depressants can send patients back to the mania phase. It is advisable to consult a doctor, and only take prescribed medication once treatment has started.

They Experience Extreme Mood Swings

The main reason why bipolar disorder is hard to diagnose is because it simply looks like someone had a bad day. Often, the stages of mania and depression come together (referred to as mixed mania) and causes extreme mood swings and irritability in patients. Doctors explain that we all have our good days and bad days, but if someone doesn’t understand the source of a person’s irritation, it might be a bit of a concern. Moreover, this irritability may lead to misunderstandings with others, too.

They Have Inconsistent Behaviour

When patients are in the manic phase, they often go through inconsistent behavior, and make decisions that they wouldn’t have taken in a normal situation, more so with finances and relationships. In some cases, they go on a shopping spree and find it hard to stop themselves; others engage in impulsive physical intercourse. Doctors think this is because of an inflated self-esteem. They feel too good to think of the consequences, but if they were thinking clearly, they would have never behaved in this way. Hence, an erratic and inconsistent behavior is a dead giveaway.

They Speak Very Fast

Sometimes, people suffering from bipolar would talk very fast. It wouldn’t be like a two-way conversation but more like a monologue. Even if you try talking to them, they would probably interrupt you abruptly. But it has been found that most patients would do this when they are in the manic phase; in the depression phase, they are usually quieter. Though, that doesn’t mean they are at peace with themselves.

If you or anyone close to you have bipolar disorder, following a few lifestyle changes will help immensely. Avoiding alcohol, or drugs, and reducing stress at work and at home are the two major things that need to happen. Apart from that, following a balanced and nutritious diet, working out regularly, getting enough sleep, and taking prescribed medicines in time will help, too. Also, avoid too much nicotine and caffeine, especially during the manic phases as these will make you hyperactive. Finally, if these symptoms have been occurring for a while, the first thing to do is to schedule a consultation with an expert.

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