What are the signs of bipolar disorder

Bipolar Affective Disorder

What is Bipolar Affective Disorder?

Bipolar affective disorder is a mood disorder that is characterized by alternating phases of very elated and very depressed mood.

These are called manic and depressive episodes. Manic episodes are periods of abnormally high mood (euphoria) and activity, but also irritability. Depressive episodes include persistent sadness, loss of interest, and listlessness.

This condition is mainly caused by genetic factors and a chemical imbalance in the brain. Diagnosis requires lifelong treatment. This can be done through psychological counseling and medication. Although bipolar disorder requires lifelong treatment, many sufferers learn to manage their symptoms and live well with the diagnosis.


The causes of bipolar disorder are not fully understood, but it is believed that various interacting factors lead to the development of this condition. This includes:

  • a chemical imbalance in the brain,
  • genetic predisposition (the disease sometimes occurs more often in certain families) and
  • Environmental factors (such as childhood traumatic events and other stressful life circumstances).


Sufferers of bipolar disorder experience episodes with very uplifted and very depressed moods. These can occur weeks, months or years apart. In both phases, psychotic symptoms (delusions, hallucinations, etc.) can be identified.

During the depressive episodes Those affected feel sad, have hardly any energy, have reduced motivation and have difficulty concentrating. They may gain weight and feel that their movements and thoughts are slowing down and becoming less spontaneous.

During the manic episodes those affected feel full of energy, hyperactive and capable of anything. Manic episodes are characterized by a euphoric or irritable mood with impulsive, sometimes irrational behavior and an acceleration of thinking and speaking. In addition, those affected do not need much sleep.

Depressive and manic episodes can result in any order occur, with or without interruption, or even simultaneously. Many people find that stressful life events trigger an episode of depression or mania.

If you are unsure whether these symptoms apply to you, start a symptom analysis.


The diagnosis of bipolar affective disorder is usually made by a psychiatrist after an assessment of the symptoms and their course over time. Because of the nature of bipolar disorder, it is often helpful for the psychiatrist to discuss symptoms with people who are close to the person concerned.

A doctor should rule out other possible causes of the symptoms before diagnosing bipolar disorder. Blood tests or images of the brain can therefore be carried out for this purpose. Blood tests are also sometimes needed to check the drugs used to treat bipolar disorder.


The therapy includes, among other things Medication to stabilize the mood. A Psychotherapy and education about the disease can help people cope with their diagnosis and identify symptoms of mania or depression before they become overwhelmed. Regular check-ups with a family doctor, psychologist or psychiatrist can help to monitor the response to the medication.


Bipolar affective disorder is a chronic condition that is one long term treatment requires. Many people will experience setbacks, especially during times of heightened stress. In the early stages of the disorder, many sufferers develop suicidal tendencies, so early diagnosis and treatment are vital.

Most of the episodes can be handled relatively well. Although there are strong differences from person to person, they occur on average three to four years apart.


A good support network before and after the diagnosis can help identify symptoms of depression and mania early and help prevent some of their effects.