Those dealing with bipolar disorder tend to experience ups and downs throughout their lives that can last longer than typical mood swings. This can greatly interfere with their day-to-day lives. Unsure of what they’re experiencing, they may not seek professional medical help, which can create a more complicated situation. If you’re unsure whether you’re having mood swings or if you’re experiencing bipolar disorder, here are some ways to tell the difference.
What Are Mood Swings
Before you can ask yourself “am I bipolar?” it should first be determined what a mood disorder is. It can have symptoms that are similar to bipolar disorder. However, someone with a mood swing/disorder:
- have mood swings that don’t last longer than a day
- even during a mood swing, they can continue everyday tasks
- rarely engages in activities with negative consequences
- can still maintain functional relationships with loved ones
- don’t have suicidal ideations
What Is Bipolar Disorder
To be diagnosed with bipolar disorder, you have at least experienced one cycle of mania or hypomania. Mania is described as dangerous highs of excitement, energy, and impulsivity that can also involve hallucinations or paranoia. Hypomania is less severe than mania and doesn’t interfere with one’s life to the same degree as mania.
There Are Different Kinds of Bipolar Disorders
There are two main types of bipolar diagnoses. The first is bipolar I, which involves a minimum of 1 episode of mania lasting at least 1 week, symptoms that impact day-to-day life, and symptoms that don’t relate to substance use or another medical or mental health condition.
Bipolar II involves:
- at least 1 hypomania episode that lasts at least 4 days and involves 3 or more hypomania symptoms
- hypomania-related shifts in mood and function that others may notice
- at least 1 episode of major depression lasting at least 2 weeks
- at least 1 episode of major depression that involves 5 or more depressive symptoms and that significantly affects your everyday functioning
- symptoms that are unrelated to substance use or another medical/mental health condition
Treatment Options for Bipolar Disorder
Several types of therapy treatments are effective against bipolar disorder. These options include:
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: this is talk therapy that is designed to help you learn new behavioral patterns to break old habits.
- Psychoeducation: you learn about bipolar disorder, how it manifests, and how it can be treated. This way, you learn to gather the tools that are right for you in the treatment of your symptoms.
- Interpersonal and social rhythm therapy: your daily routine is changed/altered so that you experience fewer symptoms.
Therapy can also be coupled with certain medications prescribed by your doctor to put you on the best track toward good mental health.
Mood swings are sometimes considered a normal part of life, as there always changing circumstances. But if these ups and downs become extreme to the point that you find it difficult to go about your day, then you may have bipolar disorder. Speak to a medical health professional so that you can work on a treatment plan together that’s right for you. It’s not something you should figure out alone.