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Caring for Someone with Bipolar Disorder

By Julie Totten

(Page 3 of 3)

Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder is depression alternating with mania (elated or irritable moods and increased energy).

For at least two weeks, five or more of these symptoms:

  • Feeling miserable and sad almost everyday
  • Losing interest or pleasure in most activities
  • Feeling anxious or irritable
  • Having trouble concentrating or remembering
  • Feeling tired
  • Feeling guilty
  • Sleeping too much or too little
  • Eating too much or too little
  • Have medically unexplained aches and pains
  • Abusing alcohol or drugs
  • Thinking of death or suicide

At least three of these symptoms:

  • Increased energy and decreased need for sleep.
  • Excessive irritability, euphoria, or aggressive behavior.
  • Increased talkativeness or pressured speech.
  • Disconnected and racing thoughts.
  • Impulsive behavior and poor judgment such as spending sprees, erratic driving, or sexual indiscretions.
  • Inflated self-esteem
  • Increased goal-directed activities
  • Distractibility

Signs of Suicide
If someone has been preoccupied with thoughts of death or suicide, call his or her clinician today. If you think the person may be harmful to you or others, call 911 or take the person to your local emergency room. Other warning signs include:

  • Talking about hopelessness and worthlessness
  • Suddenly being happier and calmer during a depressive episode
  • Making unusual visits or calling people one cares about
  • Making arrangements or getting oneís affairs in order
  • Giving things away

If someone is manic 
During mania, a person may become paranoid, believe ideas that arenít based in reality, spend a lot of money, or engage in unsafe activities. Remember that these behaviors are part of a manic state and the person is not in a normal state of mind. Try to prevent the person from carrying out these actions by talking to them and calling the clinician. You also need to keep the person and your family safe. Sometimes people in a manic state must be hospitalized. Make sure you discuss the behavior and options with your clinician, if possible before a crisis occurs so you can take appropriate action.


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