Checklist for Symptoms of Bipolar Symptoms
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Checklist of Bipolar Disorder Symptoms

Individuals with bipolar disorder have a myriad of different and often confusing symptoms. This illness can be a "fooler" and is often extremely difficult to diagnose. Bipolar individuals have both manic and depressive symptoms. However, these symptoms could possibly be months or even years apart, or could both occur daily.

It is not unusual for mental health professionals to misdiagnose this condition. Symptoms may come in phases and/or be unreported. Behaviors which are classic earmarks of bipolar disorder may seem too inconsequential to mention in comparison to the more drastic behaviors which are often manifest.

In addition, there are several different types of bipolar disorder and each type will predominately manifest different symptoms. The subtypes are: Bipolar I Disorder, Bipolar I Disorder-Mixed, Bipolar II, Rapid Cycling and Ultradian Cycling, and Cyclothymic. (Criteria of the different subtypes is not listed at this site, but can be found at many places by doing an Internet search.)

Individuals with bipolar disorder classically lack perspective on their behavior and their illness. This is why consultation with the family is absolutely ESSENTIAL to insure a proper diagnosis.

**NOTE -- Please be sure to read "Website comments" below for more important information about how family members or loved ones can play a critical role in helping a bipolar individual.
 
BIPOLAR SYMPTOMS FOR MANIA (AND HYPOMANIA)


MOOD
  • Abnormally elevated, expansive (euphoric)
  • Irritable, critical, argumentative, stubborn



PHYSICAL SYMPTOMS

  • Deceased need for sleep
  • Insomnia; stays up all night
  • Increased appetite
  • Sudden weight loss
  • Increased sexual drive (often to point of  hypersexuality)
  • Catatonia (psychotic stage)



BEHAVIOR

  • Impulsive
  • Intrusive, uninhibited
  • Increased goal setting and creativity
  • Anger and rage
  • Disorganized, easily distracted
  • Recklessness; spending money,
    bad business investments, sexual misadventures
  • No concern about consequences of behavior
  • Refusal to accept the possibility that
    something may be "wrong" with thinking or behavior.
  • Blames others for reasons they did inappropriate behavior
  • Grossly disorganized (psychotic state)



THINKING

  • Inflated self-concepts of power, greatness,
    importance (grandiosity)
  • Pressured speech
  • Racing thoughts (flights of ideas)
  • Rapid shifts of attention
  • Poor concentration
  • Memory distortion
  • Inability to see problems caused by own actions;
    problems typically attributed to someone or something else
  • Delusions (psychotic stage)
  • Disorganized, incoherent speech (psychotic state)



SENSES

  • Lowering of CNS excitability; Lack of sensitivity
    to heat, cold, hunger, thirst, pain, injury
  • Seeks over-stimulation
  • Hallucinations (psychotic stage)



CRITERIA FOR DIAGNOSIS

  • Both mood symptoms
  • At least 4 of the symptoms in the Physical,
    Behavior and/or Thinking categories
  • Symptoms observed for over 1 week



**Note -- The absence of a specific symptom necessary to make a clear diagnosis does not mean an individual is not bipolar. Bipolar disorder often manifests itself in phases.

 
DEPRESSIVE SYMPTOMS


MOOD
  • Depressed, sad or very irritable;
    cannot be "cheered up" (dysphoria)
  • Loss of interest and pleasure in daily activities



PHYSICAL SYMPTOMS  

  • Insomnia or sleeping too much
  • Loss of appetite or eating too much
  • Feeling slowed down or too agitated to sit still
  • Extreme fatigue and lack energy
  • Decreased sexual drive
  • Catatonia (psychotic stage)
 
BEHAVIOR
  • Decreased motivation
  • Decreased performance
  • Withdrawal and isolation
  • Loss of gratification in effort
  • Lack of attention to hygiene and appearance
  • No desire to talk, interact, socialize


 
THINKING

  • Accusatory, self-blaming thoughts
  • Dwelling on guilt and personal failures 
  • Having very low self-esteem
  • Inability to think, remember, concentrate
  • Marked indifference
  • Recurrent thoughts of death, suicidal thoughts, suicidal plans
  • Delusions (psychotic stage)
  • Disorganized, incoherent speech (psychotic stage)

SENSES

  • Heightened sensitivity of the central nervous system (CNS)
  • Hypersensitive to noise, light, stress
  • Hallucinations (psychotic stage)

CRITERIA FOR DIAGNOSIS
  • One primary mood disturbance
  • At least four of the symptoms in the Physical
    and/or Thinking categories
  • Symptoms present every day for at least two weeks

 

Website comments -- It is extremely important to understand that MOST people NEVER have all of these symptoms! Sometimes individuals wonder if they or someone they live with might be bipolar. They look over this long list of symptoms and then say to themselves, "Oh, I've never done/seen that, so this must not be bipolar disorder." Sometimes these symptoms will only show up one at a time, and there could be months or even years between different symptoms. And many of these symptoms will never show up at all, depending on the type and severity of the specific bipolar condition someone has.

Also, this is an illness which often manifests itself in stages. The stage which typically shows up first will often be frequent bouts of deep depression, ongoing irritable, angry and possibly aggressive behavior, or very intense, "overkill" reactions which seem extreme and out-of-proportion in relation to the surrounding circumstances.  A way this could be described is that, "On a scale of 1 to 10, almost everything is a 10, no matter how minor it is!" 
 
If there is any genetic family history of bipolar disorder (manic depression), it is very possible that these symptoms are indications of the emergence of this illness.

Remember, if you are observing behavior in someone you are close to which seems to be abnormal, it probably IS abnormal! Most of us do have a sense of what is normal and what is not. However, a very common scenario for teens who turn out to be bipolar is the following:

Their parents will often be told by doctors or counselors that behaviors the parents are experiencing with their teenager which seem very extreme and completely abnormal, are just typical teenage hormones, growing pains, adjusting to menstrual changes, normal teenage stress, teenage rebellion, and so on.

Sadly, these teenagers or young adults who could have been enormously helped by treatment for this disorder which was just beginning to be manifest, are sometimes instead left to suffer the horrible results and ravages of this disease because of that kind of advice. **The sooner someone gets effective treatment for bipolar disorder, the less long-term damage and negative effects of the disease there will be!**

There is a something that occurs in bipolar individuals which is called "kindling". What this means is that the more abnormal mood episodes a person has, the harder it is to treat each subsequent episode. The term "kindling" comes from the process of starting a fire. Using this fire analogy, a comparison can be made between what happens in the brain when there are untreated mood episodes, and the way a fire which has spread has now become much harder to put out. This is why is it critical to GET TREATMENT as soon as there is a concern about bipolar behavior.

TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS!

YOU are the expert on your family member or loved one, not a doctor or counselor who doesn't live with them or know what really goes on day-to-day. If something seems "really wrong" or abnormal, it probably is. Do relentless research online and elsewhere until you see things that sound like the person you are concerned about.

As hard as it might be to believe, the fact is that many doctors, counselors and even psychiatrists are NOT experts in bipolar disorder. They may be giving the best information and advice they are aware of at the time, but with the many conditions and issues they need to deal with, they may not be up on the latest treatments, understanding about, and helps for those with bipolar disorder.

The fact that a safe, enormously effective, helpful treatment like lithium orotate is still relatively unknown to many doctors is a perfect case in point. BE YOUR LOVED ONE'S ADVOCATE AND BEST RESOURCE. Don't count on a doctor to know and do everything they will need. Your research and intervention can make all the difference for them and can help them again become the wonderful person you knew and loved before this horrible illness began to kick in.

Lithium orotate may not be the answer for all bipolar individuals, but it CAN BE THE ANSWER for 70-80% of them. And the reason it has become the treatment of choice for many of the doctors who do know about it is because it is something which can be helpful for anyone, not just those with bipolar disorder.

This means that an absolute diagnosis need not even be obtained before trying lithium orotate. Any "side effects" or results will only be positive and helpful ones, so there is nothing to lose and a world of help to gain by trying this safe, inexpensive, natural mineral supplement.