It’s normal for your mood to change throughout the day as you encounter new challenges and put yourself in different situations. For instance, you might be in a great mood as you order your morning coffee and head to work, but then quickly shift to a bad mood when your boss calls you in for a meeting.
Generally speaking, as long as your changes in mood aren’t interfering with your life or the lives of others, what you’re experiencing is probably normal. In fact, your mood doesn’t just change based on psychological factors. Due to natural body rhythms, people tend to feel best in the mornings and have more negative thoughts in the late afternoons and evenings.
Because bipolar disorder is characterized by extreme mood instability, let’s learn more about this condition, how it differs from normal mood swings and when to worry.
What is Bipolar Disorder?
Bipolar disorder is a mental disorder that causes extreme shifts in mood, energy, activity levels and concentration. It disrupts everyday life and functioning for yourself and those around you. Without treatment, bipolar disorder can cause you to feel out of control, and even think about death or suicide.
Another telltale sign of bipolar disorder is the drastic highs and lows. It’s normal to feel happy one minute and stressed the next, but people with bipolar disorder will often go overboard with spending or having energy and then go into a deep depression. These extreme emotions make it difficult to function at work, school and life in general.
The signs of bipolar disorder are:
- Manic episodes. To meet the criteria for bipolar I disorder, you must have had at least one manic episode in your life for at least one week. When you’re manic, you have an elevated mood and extreme changes in emotions, thoughts, energy, talkativeness and activity level.
- Depressive episodes. During a depressive episode, you experience a low mood, a lack of interest in activities and low energy levels. You do not have to go through a depressive episode to have bipolar disorder.
How Does Bipolar Disorder Differ from Normal Moodiness?
Bipolar disorder is a mental disorder that affects everyday life. Normal moodiness does not. There are two types of bipolar disorder. Bipolar I disorder causes severe manic episodes that cause problems for a person because they often engage in unhealthy habits like gambling, spending money or having unprotected sex.
With bipolar II disorder, a person will experience depressive episodes and hypomanic episodes, which have milder symptoms compared to full-blown mania. The manic episodes are not as long or severe, and they don’t typically affect everyday functioning as much. There’s also cyclothymia, which is a milder form of bipolar disorder.
When Should I Seek Treatment for Bipolar Disorder?
You don’t need to have a specific mental health condition to seek help. Whether you’re struggling with your symptoms or simply want better management over your emotions and moods, talking to a therapist can help. You can understand why you are experiencing these shifts in mood, and what you can do to help yourself.
If you do have bipolar disorder, getting treatment is key. Untreated bipolar disorder can have serious consequences – and some can be life threatening. Fortunately, bipolar disorder is a treatable condition. Cognitive behavioral therapy, family-focused therapy, interpersonal social rhythm therapy and medication have all proven effective.
Spearhead Health can help you find the best route to recovery. We recognize that no two people are the same and will benefit from the same treatment. Our team will work with you to put together a comprehensive treatment plan that addresses your mental health, and anything else you want to work on. Contact our team to start your journey to better health.