Understanding how to know if you are bipolar is important if you are worried about your mental health. Additionally, knowing the signs and symptoms of bipolarity can alert you to bipolar behavior in the people in your life. Bipolar disorder, previously known as manic depression, is marked most notably by the presence of both extremely high, or manic, periods of energy and periods of severe depression. Here are more specific indicators:
- Mania. Periods of mania bring excessive amounts of energy, often disrupting sleep cycles to the point of staying awake for days. People experiencing mania tend to talk quickly, loudly and at length. Having grandiose thoughts and an inflated self image are also both signs of mania. Feeling happy and good about yourself and life are different than mania; to be diagnosed as mania, the high you are feeling must include feeling powerful, invincible and behaving recklessly, i.e. driving wildly or spending money excessively.
- Depression. The downswing of bipolarity is intense depression. More than just feeling sad, severe depression is the near constant feeling of sadness, heaviness, exhaustion and overall apathy towards life. People suffering from depression often have no desire to engage in daily activities including basic things such as eating and getting out of bed as well as recreational things they usually enjoy doing. Depression causes people to withdraw from social life and become isolated. Unexplained body pain, sleep disruption (both insomnia and oversleeping), the inability to concentrate or focus, low self image, suicidal tendencies and disordered eating (both bingeing and starving) are other common signs of depression.
- Up and Downs. While depression in itself is a mental condition, experiencing it combined with mania is a strong indicator of bipolar disorder. If you experience both ups and downs, even if they come in varying severities (i.e. really high mania coupled with mild depressive episodes or vice versa), see a physician, therapist with relevant experience or psychologist. Treating bipolarity can be complex and usually involves both pharmaceuticals and therapy. Whether or not you decide to investigate treatment for bipolarity, having a diagnosis is the first step to understanding your mind and learning how to manage your moods.