The Difference Between Bipolar Disorder and Normal Ups and Downs

The Difference Between Bipolar Disorder and Normal Ups and Downs

Everyone experiences the regular ups and downs of life: one day, you may feel energetic and optimistic, but the next day you could feel down and lethargic. This swing does not mean that you suffer from a bipolar disorder or manic depression, but bipolar disorder does cause unusual shifts in mood, energy and activity levels. These emotional states are called episodes: an overly excited, energetic or joyful state is a manic episode, and an extremely sad or depressive state is known as a depressive episode. This disorder most often appears in one’s late teens and early adult years, but it is difficult to spot this problem much earlier in life.

Many people struggle for years before being properly diagnosed and treated, but, according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the symptoms of bipolar disorder must indicate a major shift from your normal mood and behavior. Symptoms of mania from bipolar disorder include the following issues:

  • Rapid speech
  • Aggression
  • Irritability
  • Spending sprees
  • Inflated sense of self-esteem
  • Distracted easily
  • Careless or dangerous behavior
  • Poor performance at work or school
  • Decreased need for sleep
  • Racing thoughts
  • Increased sex drive

On the other hand, symptoms of depressive episodes from bipolar disorder include the following problems:

  • Anxiety
  • Sleep difficulties
  • Changes in appetite
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of interest in daily activities
  • Sadness
  • Hopelessness
  • Anxiety
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Suicidal thoughts or behavior

The following issues distinguish bipolar disorder from the normal ups and downs of life:

  • Intensity of mood – While everyone experiences changing moods and emotions, someone with bipolar disorder will experience these changes in extremes by feeling overly joyful to overly hopeless with little moderation. Over time, a pattern of mania and depression may
  • Lengths of mood – Everyday moods may last a day or two, and a variety of emotions may occur in a single day. However, people with bipolar disorder have moods that last weeks or even months at a time, with periods of normality between.
  • Ability to function – One of the most important distinctions between bipolar disorder and the normal ups and downs of life is the ability to function in everyday life. Someone who is mildly depressed may struggle with concentration for a day or two, but she can still carry out daily functions. However, someone with bipolar disorder struggles to work or communicate effectively. She may have unrealistic expectations of herself or others, and those who suffer from this disorder may miss work or other significant events.

Fortunately, bipolar depression can be treated and managed. Certain medications moderate the brain’s neurotransmitter production, and therapy and education can teach patients how to spot and cope with mood swings. Get help now to address this crippling disorder.

Get Help for Bipolar Disorder

If you or a loved one struggles with a bipolar disorder, we can help. Call our toll-free, 24 hour helpline anytime to talk with one of our admission coordinators about your situation and how to address it. Bipolar disorder will not go away on its own, so call us today to get the help you need.