Signs & Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder

At Rio Vista Behavioral Health, we believe education is an important first step in the effort to heal from bipolar disorder. Understanding the signs, symptoms, and effects of bipolar disorder can help you get the right type and level of care for yourself or a loved one. 

Understanding Bipolar Disorder

Learn about bipolar disorder 

Bipolar disorder is a mental illness that causes extreme fluctuations in mood and temperament. People who struggle with this illness, which was previously known as manic depression, experience heightened states of mania and low states of depression. While everyone experiences ups and downs in their emotions throughout their lives, people with bipolar disorder experience such significant highs and lows that it impairs their ability to function properly.  

There are three types of bipolar disorder: bipolar I, bipolar II, and cyclothymic disorder. Bipolar I disorder is often viewed as the most severe type, as it causes people to experience drastic shifts in mood that alternate more quickly than with other types of bipolar disorder. This means that a person could experience an episode of mania and then switch to a depressive episode within a matter of hours, only to then return to a state of mania shortly after. However, the episodes can be spaced out over longer periods of time. Those who receive a diagnosis of bipolar I must have experienced at least one manic episode.  

People receive a diagnosis of bipolar II if they experience significant depressive episodes, but have also experienced one episode of hypomania. Hypomania is a less intense version of mania, one that does not cause the same amount of impairment as mania does. Yet, the depressive lows of bipolar II can be extreme and can cause significant distress.  

Those who are suffering from cyclothymic disorder experience a mild form of the symptoms of bipolar I and bipolar II. In other words, these people will experience chronic shifts in mood, but not in a manner that causes the same kind of impairment as the other types. But their symptoms still require treatment in order to prevent ongoing suffering. 


Statistics about bipolar disorder

The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) reports the following statistics about bipolar disorder: 

Causes & Risk Factors

Causes and risk factors for bipolar disorder

There are many factors that can contribute to someone developing the symptoms of bipolar disorder. Among the different causes that have been known to contribute to the onset of symptoms in those who are genetically predisposed for the illness are the following: 

  • Family history of bipolar disorder or other forms of mental illness 
  • Drug or alcohol abuse 
  • Experiencing a significant trauma 
  • Being the victim of physical, sexual, and/or emotional abuse 
  • Having struggled with other types of mental illness (e.g., anxiety disorders) 

Signs & Symptoms

Signs and symptoms of bipolar disorder

The signs and symptoms that can indicate that someone is suffering from bipolar disorder include both manic symptoms and depressive symptoms. Some people will experience one more frequently than the other, while others will switch back and forth regularly. Examples of both types of symptoms include: 

Manic symptoms: 

  • Racing thoughts 
  • Rapid speech 
  • Fleeting ideas 
  • Beginning multiple tasks, but typically not completing them 
  • Not sleeping 
  • Hypersexuality 
  • Drug or alcohol use 
  • Engaging in risky behaviors/acting impulsively 
  • Irritability 
  • Sudden, unprovoked physical or verbal aggression 
  • Feeling as though one is superior to others 
  • Paranoia 
  • Memory disturbances 

Depressive symptoms: 

  • Sleeping excessively 
  • Lack of energy 
  • Social withdrawal 
  • Anxiety 
  • Frequent absences from work or school 
  • Self-harming behaviors 
  • Changes in eating patterns 
  • Difficulty concentrating 
  • Memory disturbances 
  • Suicidal ideation 


Effects of bipolar disorder

Bipolar disorder can be successfully treated through a combination of therapy and medication. When a person chooses not to receive treatment, they put themselves at risk of experiencing a number of negative effects, including the following: 

  • Poor performance at work or school 
  • Being expelled from school or losing one’s job 
  • Family problems 
  • Financial issues 
  • Destroyed friendships 
  • Deteriorated self-esteem 
  • Sense of worthlessness/helplessness 
  • Interaction with law enforcement due to engaging in risky behaviors while in a manic state
  • Drug and/or alcohol use 
  • Self-harm 
  • Suicidal thoughts 
  • Making attempts at suicide 

Co-Occurring Disorders

Common co-occurring disorders among people who have bipolar disorder 

There are times when someone who is suffering from bipolar disorder experiences symptoms of another mental health concern at the same time. The most common co-occurring disorders include the following: 

  • Panic disorder 
  • Social anxiety disorder 
  • Specific phobia 
  • Generalized anxiety disorder 
  • Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) 
  • Eating disorders 
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) 
  • Substance use disorders 
  • Oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) 
  • Intermittent explosive disorder (IED) 
  • Conduct disorder 

Why Consider Treatment for Depression at Rio Vista Behavioral Health

Benefits of receiving comprehensive care for bipolar disorder 

If you are struggling with bipolar disorder, the best decision that you can make for yourself is to receive treatment. The symptoms of this mental illness will not go away on their own. In order to truly heal, you must receive comprehensive care and will likely need to begin taking medication.  

At Rio Vista Behavioral Health, we offer the individualized care that you need in order to overcome the symptoms of bipolar disorder. Receiving care in an inpatient treatment center is beneficial because it allows you to receive round-the-clock support while also achieving stabilization from acute symptoms. In this setting, you are able to step away from the outside world and truly begin to focus on yourself and your healing. With the help of our compassionate and knowledgeable staff, you will be able to participate in various therapeutic activities while also having the opportunity to meet with a medical professional who can help you determine if medication will be of benefit to you.  

If you or a loved one can benefit from the all-inclusive care that we offer here at Rio Vista, please contact us at your earliest convenience. We look forward to helping you or your loved one take the first step towards a brighter future. 

Introducing Rio Vista Behavioral Health

Rio Vista Behavioral Health offers state-of-the-art inpatient psychiatric and detox services in the El Paso, Texas, area. Our commitment is to provide men, women, and children in our community with individualized treatment planning and ongoing recovery support.