It’s not uncommon for people who are experiencing mood swings to wonder if it represents the onset of bipolar disorder. Bear in mind, most of us experience changes in our mood, but if you have highs and lows that seem especially pronounced and/or last for longer periods of time than what seems normal, it might be a good idea to think about having yourself tested. Many individuals begin by visiting their primary care doctor and describing the symptoms to see if further explanation is warranted.
If you do decide to consult a primary care physician, be specific about what you think separates your bipolar disorder symptoms from relatively typical mood changes. Give specific examples, emphasizing those times when your highs created delusional or unrealistic behavior.
Most true bipolar sufferers experience periods of mania where optimistic feelings almost make them feel bulletproof, and their decision-making can lead to irresponsible or reckless behavior. Some examples of manic periods include over shopping/overspending, perhaps an attraction to someone for sex even though there’s no expectation of a real relationship with the person. The optimism can also lead someone to make risky behavior seem appropriate. Sometimes, that’s taking on excessive debt, and sometimes it can lead one to gamble or try dangerous and addictive drugs.
The other distinguishing characteristic of someone who may have bipolar disorder is that life’s low periods can be very pronounced and long-lasting. In fact, the depression can be so deep that it eliminates the ability to connect with others in normal, healthy ways. This can result in damaged relationships with family, or with a spouse or partner. Left untreated, some sufferers report that depression can spiral out of control, leaving them feeling that there is no other option but suicide to end the pain.
Testing for Bipolar Disorder
As you can see above, the repercussions of having bipolar can be devastating. Therefore, if you have any reasonable concern that what you’re feeling is similar, please reach out for medical attention. If your symptoms are acute, it might be a good idea to visit the local emergency room or urgent care center to avoid causing yourself imminent harm. But also consider engaging a therapist and/or psychotherapist to begin the process of diagnosing your condition.
If it turns out, after thorough testing, that you do have bipolar disorder there are promising ways that the condition can be treated. Obviously, the help of talented mental health professionals is indispensable. Also, tremendous advances in medical science have led to available prescriptions that can help control the scope of your highs and lows.
There are side effects with bipolar disorder medications. Some users report a dampening of emotions, and even a lack of interest in sexual activity. Others report weight gain, and a lack of motivation for physical exercise. These side effects might not apply to you, but even if they do, you’ll need to decide if they are necessary evils in the process of helping you avoid the mania and deep depression that clearly can cause so many problems.We thank the folks at Facing Bipolar for their time in helping us understand the situation better.