Bipolar disorder is a clinical diagnosis for a person who experiences significant changes in energy levels, mood, activity levels, and thought processes. Bipolar disorder has historically been called manic-depressive disorder. Five types of bipolar disorder that mental health professionals can diagnose are:
- Bipolar I
- Bipolar II
- Cyclothymic disorder
- Bipolar disorder “other specific”
- Bipolar disorder “unspecified.”
You can learn more about the differences between bipolar I and bipolar II disorder here.
Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder
While each type of bipolar disorder has a unique set of symptoms, some commonalities exist. Each type of bipolar disorder is marked by extremely energetic symptoms, also known as manic symptoms, and low symptoms, also known as depression.
Symptoms of mania can include:
- Feeling on edge or restless.
- Having a poor appetite.
- Experiencing decreased need for sleep.
- Dealing with racing thoughts.
- Fast talking and rapid speech.
- Spending a lot of money, driving fast, and overeating.
- Seeing things that don’t exist (i.e., hallucinations).
- Believing facts that don’t exist, such as believing you are going to be president of the United States (i.e., delusions).
Symptoms of a depressive episode can include:
- Having sleep problems (e.g., sleeping too much, or difficulty falling and staying asleep).
- Experiencing increased appetite.
- Gaining weight.
- Feeling sad and hopeless.
- Having little to no energy.
- Thinking of death, including thoughts of suicide.
- Having difficulty concentrating.
Diagnosing Bipolar Disorder
Only a mental health or medical professional can diagnose bipolar disorder. It is also important to examine other factors that can contribute to the symptoms of bipolar disorder, such as medical complications and substance use.
Testing for Bipolar Disorder
Things to consider when testing for bipolar disorder include the following:
- Symptoms of bipolar disorder can reflect symptoms of other mental health disorders such as generalized anxiety disorder and major depressive disorder, so it’s important to rule out other possible mental health diagnoses.
- Drug and alcohol use can contribute to the development of some of the symptoms of bipolar disorder. For example, the use of hallucinogens such as methamphetamines can cause high energy, rapid speech, and delusions.
- Underlying medical problems can influence the presence and development of symptoms of bipolar disorder.
- Comprehensive testing for bipolar disorder includes a complete physical exam, medical tests to rule out any other illnesses, and a psychiatric evaluation by a mental health professional.
Bipolar disorder is treatable through interventions such as talk therapy, medication, and other complementary therapies. However, a proper diagnosis is needed to create an effective treatment plan.
If you think you may be experiencing symptoms of bipolar disorder, you are not alone. In fact, 2.3 million Americans have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, and researchers believe the number of people affected is even higher. Bipolar disorder can be managed, and the symptoms can be treated through medical interventions such as therapy and medication. Proper diagnosis is important so an effective treatment plan can be created for you. If you think you may be experiencing symptoms of bipolar disorder, speak to your doctor about whether telehealth or in-person treatment is best for you. If you have thoughts of suicide, call the national suicide crisis number at 800-273-8255. If you are considering acting on your thoughts or have a plan for suicide, please call 911 or go to your local emergency department immediately.
Valera Health offers doctors and therapists through telemedicine that are available to help you navigate your personal journey to improved wellness.