10 Signs of Bipolar Disorder

This serious mental illness affects about 6 million women and men in the U.S., according to the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA). And it can be harrowing and dangerous for people around them.Bipolar I is the classic type, what used to be called manic depression. Patients typically alternate between full-blown mania and depression, which causes severe behavioral shifts. In some, those symptoms occur concurrently.
Occasionally, the mania or depression is so severe that it becomes psychosis — a break with reality characterized by delusions or hallucinations.
Bipolar II is the less extreme, more common version of the disorder. Depressive episodes alternate with hypomania, a milder version of mania. People with hypomania are sometimes highly productive and function well.
“It can start out lovely,” says Cynthia Last, PhD, a clinical psychologist in Boca Raton, Fla., and author of When Someone You Love Is Bipolar (Guilford Press).but hypomania inevitably leads to depression. And if left untreated, symptoms may grow more extreme, evolving into bipolar I.During a manic phase, some people feel euphoric, others talk nonstop and some develop a hair-trigger temper. The key is that their mood is a radical departure from the norm.A person who’s usually a reasonable individual may suddenly become impossible to live with,” Dr. Galynker explains.2. Racing thoughts and speed-talking
Besides speaking quickly and jumping between ideas, a person in a manic phase may also be easily distracted — one reason mania is sometimes mistaken for ADHD.“Unfortunately, the primary treatment for ADHD is stimulants, which can trigger severe symptoms in someone with bipolar disorder,” Last says.To avoid a misdiagnosis of ADHD, mental health professionals analyze how behavior has changed: Bipolar disorder is episodic, while adult ADHD usually continues from childhood.