Bipolar disorder, also known as manic depression, is a mental disorder that is characterized by alternating shifts in the mood and energy levels in the sufferer. According to WebMD, this psychiatric disorder has five classifications- Bipolar I disorder, bipolar II disorder, cyclothymic disorder, mixed features and rapid cycling. Each classification has its own degrees of mania and depression.
Bipolar I disorder- Patients have severe mood swings ranging from depression to hypomania.
Bipolar II disorder-With this classification, the mania episodes are milder; however, the depression episodes are still quite severe.
Cyclothymic disorders-When a patient suffers from cyclothymic disorder, the patient experiences brief periods of depression and mania.
Mixed features is when a patient exhibits simultaneous symptoms. For examples, the sufferer may experience high energy levels and racing thoughts while feeling hopeless and suicidal at the same time.
Rapid cycling describes a patient who experiences more than four mood episodes within a year.
Within each class of bipolar disorder sufferers can experience a variety of symptoms. The National Institute of Mental Health breaks its list of symptoms down into two categories. Those experienced during a manic episode and those experienced during a depressive episode.
Depressive Phase- Anger
One of the feelings an individual experience during the depressive stage is anger. This anger causes the individual to lash out in rage against loved ones. Then, after the irritability ends, the sufferer may feel deep feelings of guilt and sorrow.
Depressive Phase-Suicidal Thoughts
Suicidal thoughts often plague those suffering from a bipolar disorder. During the depressive phase, the sufferer may feel so hopeless and frustrated with themselves that they contemplated suicide even when they are on bipolar medications
Depressive Phase- Loss of Interest
Individuals suffering from bipolar disorder often isolate themselves during the depressive stage. They may feel overwhelmed, fearful or anxious around people due to either social anxiety or lack of energy. As this cycle progresses, sufferers may isolate themselves from others which only feeds the depression.
Depressive Phase- Low Energy Levels
During a depressive phase, the individual may experience lack of energy needed to do ordinary daily activities, such as showering, cooking, caring for loved ones or working. Sleep problems, such as insomnia or getting too much sleep and depression can all increase their low energy levels.
Depressive Phase- Guilt
Bipolar often causes feelings of guilt. The sufferer may feel bad because they can’t control their emotions, suffer from outbursts and withdraw from their friends and family members. Even though bipolar individuals know that their condition is a medical condition; however, they are still riddled with guilt.
Manic Phase- Impulsive Choices
During a bipolar manic phase, they may experience impulsiveness and irresponsibility. They may avoid responsibilities such as work or school for more interesting and exciting activities. Many times, these activities are dangerous to the individual.
Manic Phase- Inflate Ego
During the manic phase, a bipolar individual may experience an inflated ego. This may result in a change in daily activities, clothing choices and friends. At times, they will alienate the people closest to them during this phase. Then, when depression recurs, they may loathe themselves and withdraw even further.
Manic Phase- Overspending
Bipolar disorder can lead to financial problems in an individual. During the manic stage, they may go on a shopping spree without considering the financial repercussions. These purchases are based on emotional feelings instead of rational thoughts.
Manic Phase- Racing Thoughts
One of the symptoms that many bipolar individuals suffer with is racing thought. Sufferers describe this as their minds being inundated with so many ideas and emotions that it is hard to have a conversation, focus on a task or work.
Manic Phase- Sex
During the manic period a sufferer may experiment with inappropriate sexual activities, such as cheating, having sex in public places and having sex with multiple partners. During the manic phase, the individual’s sex drive can increase exponentially. Then, afterwards, their sex drive can become almost non-existent.
A bipolar disorder can cause a multitude of symptoms. Sufferers may become easily agitated, experience periods of extreme happiness, restlessness or hopelessness. They may have difficulty in making decisions, remembering and have impaired judgement. Finally, a bipolar individual may engage in risky behavior or contemplate suicide, even when properly treated.