These are opposite states and the so the person with Bipolar will fluctuate wildly with their moods.
What does Bipolar look and feel like?
During the manic phase, you feel and appear positive, excited about life and even euphoric. You can be conspicuously active and may be brimming with ideas, one after another, and you may start many projects. However, your friends may notice that something seems amiss.
Once this manic stage wanes, and the depressive stage begins, you can appear like a Jekyll- Hyde.
Moving back and forth from these stages is called cycling, and the periods that you spend in each stage can vary enormously from person to person.
Usually an equal number of manic and depressions stages rarely happens. There is usually one stage that happens more frequently.
In general, men tend to experience manic periods more than depression, and women have more depression more than manic episodes.
And it is possible for you to have periods of feeling normal in between these two opposites as well.
Do I have Bipolar Disorder?
The DSM5 presents a number of criteria that characterises Bipolar Disorder.
The first group has to do with the Manic Phase:
- Your mood must be elevated, expansive, or irritable, and this must be different from your normal personality. You can seem overconfident and have an exaggerated opinion of yourself and your abilities. You may talk too loudly, and too quickly. Your thoughts processes will be accelerated, with many thoughts happening simultaneously, and you verbalise them just as quickly. You may find it difficult to follow a single train of thought for very long.
- In addition, you will have at least 3 of the following:
- An inflated sense of self-importance
- A decreased need for sleep
- Unusual talkativeness
- Your thoughts are racing
- You are easily distracted
- An increase in goal-directed activity and projects
- An over-involvement in activities that bring you pleasure while also have a high potential for pain or harmful consequences
You will also have the following Depression symptoms:
- A depressed mood most of the day, nearly every day
- Loss of interest or pleasure in anything much at all
- Significant weight loss (when you haven’t dieted) or weight gain
- Trouble in sleeping or oversleeping
- Feeling agitated or can’t get going
- Loss of energy nearly every day
- Feelings of worthlessness and/or guilt
- Problems concentrating or thinking
- Recurring thoughts of death or suicide
If you have ticked a number of these boxes, it is important to see your GP and Psychologist for a full assessment. Medications can be prescribed and therapy is very helpful in helping you deal with this combination of states.
Here are some other things that night help
In order to prevent a full blown mania attack, it can be very helpful to be aware of the early warning signs and start to take action early.
Here are some of them:
- Insomnia or sleeping much less
- Surges of energy
- Flight of ideas in your head
- Others seem slow
- Making lots of plans
- Spending too much money
- Wanting to keep moving
- Increased appetite
- Taking on too much responsibility
- Poor judgement
- Overly self-involved
- Inappropriate anger
- Difficulty staying still
- Compulsive eating
- Feeling very important
- Doing several things at once
- Outburst of temper
- Thrill seeking
- More sexually active
Perhaps you can list the early warning signs for you, and make a note of them in your phone, so that when you notice a few of them, you can be aware and start doing some of the following:
- Being more mindful of what you are doing and feeling in every moment
- Slow down
- Long walks
- Listening to music
- Long hot baths
- Avoid stimulating people and places
- Writing a list of things to do and sticking to it
- Stay away from alcohol
- Avoid overextending yourself
- Talking with an understanding person
- Talking with a Psychologist
The goal in mania is to stay grounded and focused enough to get something done, rather than being so scattered and initiating lots of projects and never getting any of them completed, and to feel a sense of peace.
Breaking tasks down into smaller components can be helpful when you’re manic. In mania you can sometimes get a lot of things done, but the quality may suffer, so by analysing your tasks, and having a clear picture of how to accomplish what you want, you can stabilize both your performance and your mood.
How to help yourself when you are in a Depressed mood
Here are some simple ways you can help yourself when you are feeling down:
- Exercise of any sort, daily
- Talk with your Psychologist
- Use Cognitive Therapy techniques to change your negative thinking
- Plan your day with some activities you have to do, and something you enjoy
- Break down tasks into smaller parts
- Give yourself credit for even the smallest things you get done
- Focus on living one day at a time
- Buy yourself something that you’ve been wanting and would love
- Eliminate sugar, coffee and junk food, and eat healthy meals
At Hart Psychologists we have Psychologists around Australia you can help you overcome and manage your Bipolar. Phone our friendly receptionists on 1300830552 or contact us via an enquiry form and they can help you find the right one for you.
You can also do our Depression Quiz here that will help you understand your level of Depression.