Individuals diagnosed with bipolar disorder are capable of living full and productive lives. Understanding the signs and symptoms and seeking professional help are the first steps to improvement.

What Are the Two Most Common Types of Bipolar Disorder?

  • Bipolar I
    • Individuals experience extreme highs (mania) and lows (depression) in mood.
    • Symptoms can be so severe that individuals lose touch with reality.
  • Bipolar II
    • The individual experiences mild highs (hypomania) along with periods of severe depression.
    • Individuals do not experience hallucinations or delusions; rather, they may appear more energetic.

What Are the Symptoms of Bipolar Depression and (Hyper)mania?

  • Bipolar depression
    • Sad, empty mood all day
    • No interest in usual activities
    • Changes in appetite
    • Sleeping too much or too little
    • Feeling restless  
    • Thoughts of death or suicide
  • (Hyper)mania
    • Overly energetic or talkative
    • Thoughts racing; many ideas coming at once
    • Feeling all-powerful
    • Easily distracted
    • Decreased need for sleep
    • Excessively goal focused

What Are the Differences Between Bipolar Disorder and Mood Swings?

  • Intensity – Mood swings associated with bipolar disorder are much stronger than normal, ordinary mood swings.
  • Length – Ordinary mood swings subside after a few hours or days. Mania or depression can last for weeks or months.
  • Interference With Life – Depression can cause a person to not leave his or her bed or go to work, while mania can cause someone to act financially reckless.  

What Warning Signs Can I Look Out for That May Trigger Symptoms?

Identifying triggers of bipolar disorder can help a person manage future episodes of depression or mania. While triggers are different for every person, some may be caused by an argument, visiting a particular place, having too much work, or a major life event, such as moving or a divorce.


  • Triggering Event – Argument with a friend.
  • Reaction – You get anxious and your thoughts start racing.
  • Action – Focus on your attitude and record how you’re feeling. Stay away from this person until you feel more stable.    

What Are My Treatment Options?

Recording moods and daily activities can help to identify triggers and patterns in behavior. Developing a support system that involves friends, family, and medical professionals can also help ease the strain of bipolar disorder. Medication such as mood stabilizers, antipsychotics, and antidepressants can also be prescribed to help treat symptoms.


  1. Bipolar disorder. National Alliance on Mental Illness. Reviewed August 2017. Accessed August 10, 2018.
  2. Bipolar disorder. Mayo Clinic. January 31, 2018. Accessed August 10, 2018.