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What are the symptoms of bipolar disorder?

Bipolar Depression Symptom List - Depressive Symptoms
  • Low self-esteem or self-loathing
  • Fatigue, lethargy, or feeling slowed down
  • Increased need for sleep or the ability to sleep as many as 18 hours without feeling refreshed
  • Social withdrawal
  • Loss of emotional control; cries easily or for no reason
  • Headaches, backaches or digestive problems
  • Unable to concentrate, make decisions, or remember details
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Inability to feel pleasure or happiness
Bipolar Depression Symptom List - Manic Symptoms
  • Delusions of grandeur or inflated self-esteem
  • Increased performance of goal directed activities
  • Alcohol or drug abuse
  • Irritable or angry
  • Irresponsible spending
  • Engaged in dangerous, unprotected sexual activity, or other dangerous acts
  • Hyperactive
  • Flight of ideas, racing thoughts
  • No need or little need for sleep
  • Rapid, pressurize speech that others can't understand

How is bipolar disorder diagnosed or evaluated?

At present, there is no definitive diagnostic test that leads to a bipolar disorder diagnosis. Bipolar disorder is not visible on brain scans or discovered through blood tests.

Bipolar disorder diagnosis is made on the basis of symptoms, the course of illness (manic versus depressive states), and family history. In order to be diagnosed with bipolar disorder, a patient must have experienced at least one manic episode.

Reports of symptoms from family and friends appear to help with diagnosis-even more so than reports from the patient. In a recent study of bipolar disorder in child patients, a parental report of bipolar disorder symptoms was more useful in making a bipolar disorder diagnosis than a report on symptoms from teachers or even the child in question.

According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition (DSM-IV), a patient with a bipolar disorder could be diagnosed with one of four types of bipolar disorder: bipolar I disorder, bipolar II disorder, cyclothymia, and bipolar disorder not otherwise specified. These bipolar disorder diagnosis are very similar in nature. A patient is classified with one of these types of bipolar disorder based on the severity and frequency of their bipolar disorder symptoms.