Posted by: jedwardswright | March 24, 2011

Bipolar Disorder: More Than “Manic-Depressive,” Part 1


Bipolar Disorder is a complicated mental health condition which occurs in differing manifestations and degrees of severity, all of which share similar symptoms. Although these symptoms are usually categorized under the headings of “Mania” and “Depression,” affected individuals may experience more from one list than the other,  or move back and forth between the two states, or even experience both manic and depressive symptoms simultaneously.

Let’s try to simplify things a bit.

Mania is a state characterized by excessive behavior, heightened energy and accelerated thinking. A person may even fully enjoy being in a manic state, as it can resemble a drug-induced high. More specifically, manic symptoms may include:

  • Unrealistic optimism
  • Ecstatic bliss
  • Egotism
  • Increased competitiveness or ambition
  • Grandiose plans
  • Extremely active and energetic
  • Hurried, intense, loud speech
  • Inability to focus and concentrate
  • Restlessness
  • Irritability and anger, sometimes leading to aggression
  • Impulsivity and unpredictability
  • Recklessness
  • Compulsions like overspending, gambling or hyper sexuality
  • Alcoholism or other addictions
  • Reduced need for sleep
  • Difficulties at and/or absences from work or school

Extreme mania may cause delusions or psychosis (breaks from reality). These symptoms can appear in a somewhat subdued form as well.

Depression symptoms , which will be familiar to most readers here, include:

  • Fatigue and sleepiness
  • Insomnia or oversleeping
  • Lack of motivation and energy
  • Extreme and/or prolonged sadness
  • Negativity
  • Irritability
  • Guilt
  • Anxiety
  • Hopelessness
  • Lack of enjoyment
  • Changes in eating habits and weight
  • Increased isolation
  • Reduced activity
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Unexplained aches and pains
  • Self-hatred or feelings of worthlessness
  • Self-harm
  • Suicidal thoughts

Suicidal thoughts may be unintended and involuntary, or reflect a very real desire to escape life. Such thoughts should always be taken seriously. Get medical help immediately.

Part 2 will focus on types of Bipolar Disorder, and why it is more than the sum of its parts.

Resources Consulted

NAMI National Alliance on Mental Illness


DBSA Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

Celebrities Catherine Zeta-Jones and Carrie Fisher have Bipolar Disorder: Article


  1. Great explanation on bipolar disorder.

    It can really be debilitating and it’s great to here other stories about the experiences they went through. Sometimes just hearing from someone else that shares, or can empathize, with your pain can mean the world.

    I hope others find your site as useful as I have.


    • Thank you for your support, David! Your encouraging words are greatly appreciated.

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