What are the signs of bipolar disorder, how to spot them and what to do next

What are the signs of bipolar disorder?

Bipolar Disorder is a mental health condition marked by extreme mood swings that include emotional highs (mania or hypomania) and lows (depression). Nestled in the calming embrace of Byron Shire, Anne Evans Counselling offers a sanctuary for understanding and managing this often misunderstood and complex condition.

Understanding Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar Disorder is not just a fleeting change in mood; it is a serious condition that can significantly impact one’s quality of life. It requires a nuanced understanding and a professional approach to treatment. Individuals with Bipolar Disorder experience intense emotional states that occur in distinct periods called “mood episodes.” Each mood episode represents a drastic change from a person’s usual mood and behavior.

The Signposts of Bipolar Disorder

Identifying Bipolar Disorder can be difficult, as it often co-exists with other conditions and can be masked by a myriad of life experiences. However, there are several hallmark signs that may point to the need for a professional evaluation.

Manic Episode Indicators:

  • Elevated Mood: An overly joyous or overexcited state is often seen.
  • Inflated Self-Esteem: There can be unrealistic beliefs in one’s abilities and powers, including a sense of grandiosity.
  • Decreased Need for Sleep: A person may feel rested after very little sleep.
  • Talkativeness: The individual may talk a great deal, often loudly and emphatically.
  • Racing Thoughts: Thoughts can jump rapidly from one idea to another.
  • Distractibility: Attention may be easily drawn to unimportant or irrelevant external stimuli.
  • Increase in Goal-Directed Activity: This can include taking on new projects or increased social or sexual activity.
  • Engagement in Risky Behaviors: This may involve reckless driving, spending sprees, or foolish business investments.

Hypomanic Episode Signs:

Hypomania is a less severe form of mania, where the symptoms are similar but less intense and without significant disruption to daily life.

Depressive Episode Symptoms:

  • Depressed Mood: Feelings of sadness, emptiness, hopelessness, or tearfulness.
  • Markedly Diminished Interest: A pronounced loss of interest or feeling no pleasure in all—or almost all—activities.
  • Significant Weight Loss or Gain: Or decrease or increase in appetite nearly every day.
  • Insomnia or Hypersomnia: Difficulty sleeping or oversleeping.
  • Fatigue or Loss of Energy: Nearly every day.
  • Feelings of Worthlessness or Excessive Guilt: Often about things that wouldn’t normally cause guilt.
  • Diminished Ability to Think: Indecisiveness or reduced concentration.
  • Recurrent Thoughts of Death: This includes suicidal ideation without a specific plan, or a suicide attempt or a specific plan for committing suicide.

Mixed Features:

It is possible to experience symptoms of mania/hypomania and depression simultaneously. These episodes can be particularly distressing and confusing for the individual and may increase the risk of suicide.

When to Seek Help

At Anne Evans Counselling, the approach to Bipolar Disorder is to create a supportive environment where individuals can explore their experiences without judgment. Seeking therapy is particularly important if mood swings are:

  • Affecting work or study performance.
  • Impacting relationships and social life.
  • Leading to substance misuse.
  • Resulting in thoughts of harming oneself or others.

The Role of Therapy in Managing Bipolar Disorder

Therapy plays a critical role in the effective management of Bipolar Disorder. At Anne Evans Counselling, a range of therapeutic approaches, such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, Psychoeducation, and Mindfulness strategies, are used to help individuals:

  • Recognise and understand the patterns of their mood swings.
  • Develop strategies to manage the triggers and signs of both manic and depressive episodes.
  • Work through the underlying issues that may be contributing to the emotional volatility.

The Path to Stability

The journey with Bipolar Disorder is one of learning to navigate the high seas of emotion with the compass of self-awareness and the anchor of support. Anne Evans Counselling in Byron Shire is committed to providing that support, offering a therapeutic relationship grounded in understanding, respect, and expertise.

Conclusion: Recognising the Signals and Seeking Safe Harbour

Recognising the signs of Bipolar Disorder and seeking appropriate help is a vital step toward stability. It is not a journey to walk alone. In the nurturing environment of Byron Shire, Anne Evans Counselling provides a haven for those seeking to understand and manage Bipolar Disorder, with the aim of fostering balance, well-being, and a fulfilling life.

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