Frequent Mood Swings: Early Symptoms Of Bipolar Disorder That Should Not Be Ignored

Date October 3, 2018

Do not think that bipolar affective disorder (BAR) concerns only true "psychos." In fact, it occurs quite often, in about 1-3% of people to be more specific. Simply put, many people do not even suspect that they are sick!


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Bipolar disorder is more common in women than in men.

This mental illness is characterized by polar mood disorders. ICD-10 defines BAR as an affective disorder, but earlier the term manic depression and circular psychosis could also be heard.

Why is this disorder called bipolar?

Basically, it is so due to the fact that there are usually two opposite phases: depression and mania (or hypomania - a milder degree), which alternate constantly and frequently during the course of this disease. At the same time, a person is rarely aware of their emotional instability: they completely deny the problem and don't want to be treated.

Illness of talented people


There are many talented artists, actors, writers, musicians and even scientists among people with bipolar disorder. Here are just some of the big names: Marilyn Monroe, Elvis Presley, Kurt Cobain, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Demi Lovato, Britney Spears, Mariah Carey, Mel Gibson, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Ben Stiller, Drew Barrymore and many more.

In fact, the periods of mania give people with bipolar disorder a wonderful opportunity to create and invent something new, because they feel an unprecedented boost of strength and energy and are able to tirelessly pursue their goal.

Unfortunately, a period of a rise is inevitably followed by an emotional “fall," which is usually accompanied by problems in personal relationships and even financial difficulties.

What are the symptoms of bipolar disorder? /

The number of phases is unpredictable for each patient. BAR can manifest itself in a single episode (mania, hypomania, or depression) in a lifetime. In addition, this affective disorder can be manifested ONLY by manic, ONLY by hypomanic or ONLY by depressive phases or in their random alternation.

The duration of each episode varies from several weeks to 2 years (on average, from 3 to 7 months), and the (hypo) manic phases are usually three times shorter than the depressive ones. Thus, people with bipolar disorder are more likely to experience depression than euphoria.

Manic phase

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During the period of mania, a person is unusually active, happy and feels on top of the world. Energy, ideas, and emotions literally overwhelm them. The patient can do a lot of things at the same time, and they don't want to sleep at all. In this phase, people can work for two days without sleep, act risky and behave aggressively. Another characteristical behavior is careless shopping sprees, as well as engaging in random sexual relationships.

Depressive phase

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During the period of depression, the person experiences strong depression, irritability, guilt or total apathy towards everything. It becomes difficult to concentrate and focus on any activity. They cannot come up with any plans or keep in mind their plans and promises. These symptoms lead to the patient's withdrawal. Depression makes the person refuse to communicate with friends and family. In addition, the patient's libido is greatly reduced. Obsessive thoughts about committing suicide aren't rare during this phase.

As you can see, there is almost nothing good in any BAR episode!

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Mood swings and other early signs

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How to recognize if you or someone close to you has bipolar disorder? Pay attention to the following symptoms.

The first thing that attracts attention is unexplained and uncontrollable mood swings or atypical behavior. But it is not enough to presume that a person has BAR. These signs are always accompanied by other symptoms, which are listed down below.

It is important to learn to recognize and distinguish the beginning of the manic and/or depressive episodes and phases. Here are the most common early warning symptoms that can indicate bipolar disorder. Check yourself and your loved ones!

Warning signs of the depressive phase:

  • chronic fatigue, a feeling of severe exhaustion, lack of energy;
  • depressed mood, tearfulness;
  • increased need for rest;
  • reduced self-esteem and self-confidence;
  • increased anxiety and nervousness;
  • total apathy;
  • various sleep disorders;
  • unwillingness to perform daily duties;
  • decreased libido;
  • the appearance of fears, phobias;
  • a decrease in the level of cognitive abilities (in particular, attention);
  • strong sense of guilt;
  • physical discomfort;
  • slipping back into bad habits;
  • tension and irritability;
  • difficulties with the daily routine.

Warning signs of the manic phase

  • sudden and persistent elevated mood, euphoria;
  • lots of new ideas, accelerated thinking ability;
  • increased talkativeness;
  • high mental and physical activity, increased energy;
  • unusual changes in perception (increased sensitivity to noise, the feeling of "being in another world," etc.);
  • increased creative activity;
  • reduced need for sleep, insomnia;
  • constant readiness for communication of any kind;
  • a sense of great self-importance (a feeling of being in the spotlight);
  • slipping back into bad habits (for example, frequent use of alcohol);
  • tension, irritability and impatience;
  • increased libido;
  • previously atypical "shopping addiction";
  • attention disorder (high distractibility);
  • strong anxiety;
  • difficulties with the daily routine.

Are you familiar with 10 or more signs? This is a good reason to consult a specialist! Especially if, from time to time, you find yourself suicidal.

However, even if you find most of the above symptoms in yourself, remember that only a specialist can make the correct diagnosis and prescribe the right treatment. As a rule, this requires a thorough differential diagnosis: at least two affective episodes where one of which was (hypo) mania or mixed are absolutely mandatory.

Can it be cured?


BAR is a chronic disease that cannot be cured at the moment. However, long-term continuous therapy helps people ( even with the most severe forms of this disorder) successfully control mood swings and other negative symptoms!

In addition to medication, a psychiatrist will recommend regular exercises and tell you how to improve sleep and nutrition.

In some cases, cognitive-behavioral, family and personal psychotherapy can be also effective, but remember that this treatment is only supportive and cannot replace pills! Catherine Zeta-Jones spoke out based on her personal fight with the disorder:

I hope I can help remove any stigma attached to it, and that those who don't have it under control will seek help with all that is available to treat it.

If you suspect your close person is struggling with bipolar disorder, try to convince them to consult a doctor. Help them find a good psychiatrist and suggest going to an appointment together.

Do not avoid talking about mental disorders. Knowing the early symptoms of BAR helped many people get qualified help in time.

Please share this useful information with your friends!

Source: MayoClinic, ICD-10, Wikipedia

READ ALSO: Catherine Zeta-Jones And 5 Other Celebrities With Bipolar Disorder

The material in this article is for informational purposes only and does not replace the advice of a certified specialist.