Bipolar disorder is noted for its dramatic mood swings, from extreme highs to extreme lows. The moods may last from days to months before changing again. You may experience “normal” moods in between the mood swings. Sometimes the moods may change quickly, occur at the same time, or overlap in what is termed a “mixed state.” Alcohol or drug use can make the moods even worse.
Symptoms of the depressive phase include feeling sad, hopeless, helpless, and worthless. You may feel self-hate, anger, restlessness, irritability, and inappropriate guilt. You may experience a lack of interest or diminished pleasure in activities that you used to enjoy. You may withdraw from others and become less active. You may feel tired all of the time. It may be difficult to sleep. You may have problems falling asleep, staying asleep, sleeping too much, or not sleeping at all. It may be difficult to concentrate, make decisions, or remember things. Your appetite may change significantly, and you may gain or lose weight.
Bipolar disorder is associated with a high risk of suicide. While experiencing depression, people may think about death a lot, feel suicidal, or feel like harming others. If you experience such symptoms, you should contact emergency medical services, usually, 911, or go to the nearest emergency department of a hospital.
The manic phase of bipolar disorder provokes intense feelings that may range from sudden rage and poor temper control to feelings of euphoria and extreme happiness. You may feel hyperactive, energetic, and have little need for sleep. Your thoughts may race and you may feel an invincible or like you can accomplish anything. You may have grandiose delusions that you have special abilities or connections with famous people or God. Your behavior may become very risky, for example, you may go on shopping sprees, drive recklessly, or engage in risky sexual behavior.
Because the dramatic mood swings with bipolar disorder can be so abrupt and unpredictable, you may have conflicts with your spouse, family members, and friends. It can cause problems at school, work, or with the law. Bipolar disorder may disrupt your entire life.