Signs, Effects & Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder

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Cross Creek Hospital helps children, adolescents, and adults who are struggling with bipolar disorder through an unmatched quality of care and support. Located in Austin, TX, Cross Creek is the leading provider of bipolar disorder treatment.

Understanding Bipolar Disorder

Learn about bipolar disorder

While there are many mental illnesses that are known to greatly affect a person’s life when they are present, bipolar disorder is one such disorder that is known to have an overwhelming influence on an individual’s functioning and health when symptoms of this condition are left untreated. The depressive and manic episodes that are cornerstone to this illness can prevent a person from performing well academically, occupationally, and socially. If bipolar disorder symptoms are severe, achieving in school, maintaining employment, and being able to sustain healthy relationships with others can be rather difficult. Furthermore, those affected by bipolar disorder have an increased risk for substance abuse, engaging in risky behaviors, and experiencing worsening symptoms over time.

The severity of bipolar symptoms present and the potential for effects occurring rests greatly on which of these three types of bipolar disorder a person is battling:

Bipolar I is the most severe form of bipolar disorder. The manic and depressive episodes associated with this type are known to be severe and the effects that can ensue when an individual is not receiving care for symptoms can oftentimes be permanent.

Bipolar II involves episodes of hypomania and depression. Symptoms of this type are less severe when compared to symptoms of bipolar I and consequences of untreated bipolar II are less impactful as well.

Cyclothymia is the mildest form of bipolar disorder. And while symptoms of this type are much less severe, treatment is still often required as other mental health symptoms could become apparent.

If you notice that you or a loved one is battling bipolar disorder symptoms, there are options for care that exist that can greatly help sufferers. By seeking effective treatment,individuals grappling with bipolar disorder can come to realize a life with the obstacle-creating symptoms of this serious mental health condition.


Bipolar disorder statistics

Because symptoms of bipolar disorder can be seen in young people, many experts in the field of mental health believe this illness affects people of all ages. The typical age of onset is around the age of twenty-five and it is estimated that 6 million adults meet diagnostic criteria for bipolar disorder. Furthermore, some studies have suggested that 3% of young people also experience symptoms synonymous with bipolar disorder.

Causes and Risk Factors

Causes and risk factors for bipolar disorder

The direct cause of bipolar disorder has yet to be identified by researchers. In lieu of this, mental health experts agree that there are risk factors and other causes that can contribute to the onset of bipolar disorder. Consider the following as the below elaborations explain why and how someone develops bipolar disorder:

Genetic: Researchers have been able to conclude, through the use of family studies, that bipolar disorder can be heritable. People with a family history of bipolar disorder or other mood-related conditions are more likely to eventually display bipolar symptoms as well.

Environmental: Studies have found that individuals with a personal history of being the victim of abuse and/or neglect have an increased risk for developing bipolar disorder. Moreover, additional research supports the notion that substance abuse can elicit the onset of bipolar disorder symptoms. Both of these environmental contributors can play an extremely integral role in the manifestation of bipolar disorder if an individual possesses a genetic predisposition to this illness.

Risk Factors:

  • Experiencing abrupt life changes or stressors
  • Experiencing trauma, abuse, and/or neglect
  • Family history of bipolar disorder or other mental health condition
  • Personal or family history of substance abuse

Signs and Symptoms

Signs and symptoms of bipolar disorder

The obviousness of bipolar disorder symptoms relies greatly on the type of bipolar disorder that is affecting a person’s life. If you suspect that you or you loved one is battling bipolar disorder, it is a good idea to consult with a mental health professional, report the symptoms that you are aware of, and inquire about the need for mental health treatment. Below are examples of bipolar disorder symptoms that you may notice in yourself or a loved one:

Behavioral symptoms (manic episode):

  • Hypersexuality
  • Acting in a grandiose manner
  • Accelerated speech
  • Engaging in risky behaviors
  • Behaving impulsively
  • Aggressive acting out
  • Failing to complete tasks
  • Disorganized speech

Behavioral symptoms (depressive episode):

  • Inability to fulfill roles and/or responsibilities
  • Social withdrawal or isolation
  • Self-injury
  • Frequent absences from school or work

Physical symptoms (manic episode):

  • Fluctuations in body temperature
  • Declined need for sleep or not sleeping for long periods of time
  • Restlessness
  • Poor appetite

Physical symptoms (depressive episode):

  • Altered eating habits
  • Poor quality of sleep
  • Low energy
  • Weight gain or loss

Cognitive symptoms (manic episode):

  • Easily distracted
  • Rapid thought processes
  • Fleeting ideas
  • Lack of concentration

Cognitive symptoms (depressive episode):

  • Delayed thinking
  • Experiencing hallucinations
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Poor decision-making abilities

Psychosocial symptoms (manic episode):

  • Long-lasting emotional excitability
  • Agitation
  • Grandiose feelings
  • Feelings of invincibility
  • Irritability

Psychosocial symptoms (depressive episode):

  • Low self-esteem / self-worth
  • Feeling empty inside
  • Declined interest in things that were once enjoyed
  • Suicidal ideation
  • Guilty feelings


Effects of bipolar disorder

Sufferers of untreated bipolar disorder are at risk of experiencing certain consequences if the symptoms of this condition remain present in an individual’s life. The severe symptoms associated with this condition have the potential to wreak havoc on several areas of a person’s life. The follow effects are those that could occur, yet could be avoided if an individual receives care for bipolar disorder:

  • Financial strife
  • Social withdrawal or isolation
  • Substance abuse leading to addiction or dependence
  • Presence of self-harming behaviors
  • Suicidal ideation
  • Attempts at suicide
  • Suicide
  • Impaired academic functioning
  • Academic failure
  • Impaired occupational functioning
  • Inability to acquire or maintain employment
  • Interaction with law enforcement
  • Incarceration
  • Poor quality and decline in quantity of interpersonal relationships

Co-Occurring Disorders

Bipolar disorder and co-occurring disorders

Bipolar disorder symptoms are known to be present at the same time as symptoms synonymous with other mental illnesses. Because of this, it is possible for an individual to meet diagnostic criteria for bipolar disorder and another mental health condition or conditions. Below are co-occurring disorders that could require treatment should an individual with bipolar disorder receive mental health care:

  • Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder
  • Generalized anxiety disorder
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • Panic disorder
  • Oppositional defiant disorder
  • Conduct disorder
  • Intermittent explosive disorder
  • Substance use disorder
  • Eating disorders
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Social anxiety disorder
  • Specific phobias
  • Depressive disorders
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Past Clients Say

Cross Creek’s treatment plans take into consideration each client's specific needs. With their guidance and support, they were able to help me get my bipolar symptoms under control and am now much more optimistic about the future!

– Former Patient