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Bipolar Disorder and Depression Symptoms

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Hypomania is a less-severe form of mania. Hypomania is a mood episode that many don't perceive as a problem. It actually may feel pretty good. You have a greater sense of well-being and productivity. However, for someone with bipolar I disorder, hypomania can evolve into mania -- or can switch into serious depression.

The experience of these manic stages has been described this way:

Hypomania:At first when I'm high, it's tremendous ... ideas are fast ... like shooting stars you follow until brighter ones appear... . All shyness disappears, the right words and gestures are suddenly there ... uninteresting people, things become intensely interesting. Sensuality is pervasive, the desire to seduce and be seduced is irresistible. Your marrow is infused with unbelievable feelings of ease, power, well-being, omnipotence, euphoria ... you can do anything ... but somewhere this changes.

Mania:The fast ideas start coming too fast and there are far too many ... overwhelming confusion replaces clarity ... you stop keeping up with it … memory goes. Infectious humor ceases to amuse. Your friends become frightened ... everything is now against the grain ... you are irritable, angry, frightened, uncontrollable, and trapped.

If you have three or more of the mania symptoms below most of the day -- nearly every day -- for one week or longer, you may be having a manic episode of bipolar disorder:

  • Excessive happiness, hopefulness, and excitement, or irritability
  • Restlessness, increased energy, with a tendency to become overinvolved with many (often unrealistic) plans and activities
  • Less need for sleep
  • Talking very fast and being hard to interrupt
  • Distractibility
  • Racing thoughts
  • Tendency to show poor or impulsive judgment (such as deciding to suddenly quit a job)
  • Inflated self-esteem or grandiosity -- unrealistic beliefs in one's ability, intelligence, and powers; may be delusional
  • Increased reckless behaviors (such as lavish spending sprees, impulsive sexual indiscretions, abuse of alcohol or drugs, or ill-advised business decisions)

Some people with bipolar disorder become psychotic.  For example, they may hear voices that aren't there. They may hold onto false beliefs, and cannot be swayed from them. In some instances, they see themselves as having superhuman skills and powers -- even consider themselves to be God-like.

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WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Joseph Goldberg, MD on June 12, 2012
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