The Difference Between Bipolar Disorder and Normal Ups and Downs

The Difference Between Bipolar Disorder and Normal Ups and Downs

Understanding the differences between bipolar disorder and normal ups and downs can help you determine the type of help you or a loved one needs

Bipolar disorder and normal ups and downs are very different. Bipolar disorder is a type of mental illness characterized by extreme highs and lows in mood and energy level. People with bipolar disorder experience periods of extremely high energy and mood (manic), or extremely low energy and mood (depressive). Usually, there is very little time spent in a normal emotional state without the help of medication and psychotherapy. People who experience normal ups and downs in life are the norm rather than the exception. When normal ups and downs turn into something more, it is time to get help.

Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder

Understanding the signs and symptoms of bipolar disorder can help you or a loved one determine whether or not medical help is needed. If you or a loved one struggle with mood swings of any kind and you think bipolar disorder may be the problem, look for these additional symptoms:

Manic Phase:

  • Feelings of euphoria
  • Inflated self-esteem or self-image
  • Poor judgment
  • Rapid speech and racing thoughts
  • Aggressive behavior
  • Increased physical activity and risky behavior
  • Spending sprees
  • Increased sex drive
  • Increased drive to achieve goals
  • Little need for sleep
  • Frequent absences from school or work
  • Delusions

Depressive Phase:

  • Sadness
  • Hopelessness
  • Suicidal thoughts or behavior
  • Anxiety and guilt
  • Sleep problems
  • Increased or decreased appetite
  • Fatigue
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Chronic pain with no known cause

Normal Ups and Downs

Unlike bipolar disorder, normal ups and downs are part of most people’s lives at one time or another. Family trauma, the death of a loved one, the ending of a relationship, difficulties at school or work can all lead to feelings of depression. The good news is new challenges and positive changes can bring on feelings of joy. When a person stays in a certain extreme frame of mind for an abnormal amount of time this could signal a bigger problem. But for most people, a little extra rest, a healthy diet, regular exercise and ruling out any physical problems can be enough to break a period of depression or restore a normal frame of mind.

Finding Help for Bipolar Disorder

If you or a loved one suffers from bipolar disorder, we are here to help. Call our toll-free helpline 24 hours a day to speak to an admissions coordinator about available treatment options.

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