What are the Symptoms of Bipolar Depression?

By: James E. DelGenio MS, LCPC
The Family Institute at Northwestern University

Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar Disorder formerly known as manic depressive disorder is a mood disorder in which people may have mixed episodes of mania and depression. This is a biological problem and will most likely require medication.

The biggest problem with managing this diagnosis is missing the high of mania. It is very much like a mouth to a flame. It is a very appealing state of mind but a very dangerous flirtation risking the stability of your mental health.

If you check even one or two of these symptoms, you should consider getting an evaluation by a psychiatrist and/or therapist. See how many of these symptoms listed below describe you.

__        Rapid mood fluctuations.

__        Feeling high, euphoric or having inflated self-esteem.

__        Irritability, hostility, anger.

__        Aggressive or risky behavior.

__        Pressured, fast speech, more talkative than usual.

__        Racing thoughts, skidding from subject to subject.

__        Delusions of grandeur, grandiose beliefs or behavior.

__        Poor judgment, lack of insight, false beliefs.

__        Poor self-control.

__        Little or no need for sleep.

__        Increased activity, sexual drive and impassivity including spending.

__        Easily distracted, poor concentration, short term memory issues.

__        Alcohol and substance abuse.

__        Bizarre dress and appearance.

__        Thoughts of suicide, homicide.

The above symptoms of depression and bipolar mood disorders are widely accepted. Since these disorders have a biological basis; a psychiatrist manages the medication while the therapist provides treatment and support. The therapist support often includes psychoeducation, symptom reduction and management, increased coping skills and management of other day to day stress such as job loss, school failure and relationship issues.

There is also an increased risk of substance abuse, dependence and alcohol issues.  Seventy to 90% of those diagnosed with a bipolar disorder also have alcohol and drug dependence. Research suggests that just casual use of alcohol with a bipolar issue may result in dependence over time.

There are two types of bipolar disorders. They are Bipolar I and Bipolar II. Bipolar I is considered the more severe of the two disorders and has more extreme episodes of mania or depression. It may also have psychotic features such as delusions and paranoia. This generally includes being out of touch with reality.

Bipolar II is characterized by milder swings of mania and depression and may have less serious effect on daily routine, relationships or employment. Both bipolar 1 and bipolar ll need ongoing treatment and medication to manage the symptoms well.

  • Most common symptoms of bipolar disorders are feeling high, risky behavior, rapid mood fluctuations and hostility.
  • Denial is a common symptom of bipolar disorder.
  • Bipolar disorders require psychiatric medication (typically a mood stabilizer), psychoeducation, ongoing therapy and additional supports when alcohol and substance dependence are also issues.
  • Alcohol and drug use should be avoided with this diagnosis.


Now I can work via zoom with anyone, anywhere in the country and it may still be covered by BCBS Insurance. Check with your BCBS representative.  Call James E. DelGenio MS, LCPC, Senior Staff Therapist at The Family Institute at Northwestern University, 847-733-4300 Ext 638.

http://takenotelessons.com   Highly effective online, one on one, SAT, ACT, GRE, standardized test preparation, via face time or skype.

Disclaimer: This material is meant to be used in conjunction with psychiatric treatment, medication, if necessary, and supportive therapy. Always share this material and your questions about this material with your doctor and therapist.

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