Key Takeaways

  • Unlike the occasional moodiness we all experience sometimes, bipolar disorder is a clinical mental health condition that typically requires professional help.
  • Bipolar disorder causes ongoing, extreme shifts in mood. It involves going from a “high” or euphoric state (called a manic or hypomanic episode) to a period of low or depressed mood (called a depressive episode).
  • While the quiz in this article can help you learn more about the symptoms of bipolar disorder, it is not a replacement for a professional evaluation. If you’re concerned about your mood, a mental health professional can provide an accurate diagnosis.

Most people experience mood changes from time to time. This could be the result of stress, shifting hormones, or many other internal or external factors. These changes might be uncomfortable, but they will typically resolve on their own with a bit of self-care. However, there are times when repeated, significant mood shifts could be a sign of an underlying medical or mental health concern. 

Bipolar disorder is a clinical mental health condition that causes major shifts in mood that negatively impact a person’s ability to function in their daily lives. While only licensed mental health professionals can provide an official diagnosis of bipolar disorder, learning more about some common signs and symptoms can help you feel more informed and empowered as you seek treatment. 

What are the symptoms of bipolar disorder?

One of the main symptoms of bipolar disorder is a major shift in mood that goes back and forth between extremes. There are “highs” known clinically as mania or hypomania. During these episodes, a person living with bipolar disorder will have bursts of energy and motivation. They may seem irritable or “jumpy” and may engage in unsafe behaviors, have trouble sleeping, and appear more talkative or distracted than usual. 

However, these periods of euphoria will only last until a depressive episode or “low” occurs. During depressive episodes, a person living with bipolar disorder will typically feel sad, hopeless, or worthless. They may experience fatigue, have a decreased appetite, prefer to spend time alone, and experience a loss of interest in activities they used to enjoy. Depressive episodes can also cause trouble with motivation, insomnia, and concentration. In severe cases, these episodes can cause thoughts of suicide. 

How do professionals diagnose bipolar disorder?

One of the first steps in finding relief from the symptoms of any mental health condition is receiving an accurate diagnosis. This is because the best treatment will vary by condition.

If you’re concerned that you or someone you care about might be living with bipolar disorder, start by seeking an evaluation from a therapist, psychiatrist, or other provider. They will talk to you about your history and get context on your family, social situation, medical background, and mental health. They will also ask you how your mood has changed over time. This information will help them determine whether you meet the diagnostic criteria for bipolar disorder. 

Since certain medical conditions can also cause mood shifts, your provider may ask you to see your physician or complete blood work to rule out other potential conditions.

Differences between bipolar 1 and bipolar 2

Each person with bipolar disorder will have their own unique experience with the condition. However, the length and severity of a manic or depressive episode will depend on the type of bipolar disorder a person has.

  • Bipolar I disorder causes both depressive and manic episodes. Manic episodes typically last for at least seven days, nearly every day for most of the day. Depressive episodes typically last at least two weeks. 
  • Bipolar II disorder is similar to bipolar I disorder. But it causes a less severe pattern of manic episodes, called hypomanic episodes, followed by depressive episodes.
  • Cyclothymia is a condition that involves repeated hypomanic and depressive episodes that are not intense enough or do not last long enough to justify a bipolar I or bipolar II diagnosis. 

Are you experiencing symptoms of bipolar disorder? Self-assessment quiz

When it comes to receiving an accurate diagnosis for any mental health condition, there is no replacement for a professional evaluation. You should not use the following quiz to diagnose bipolar disorder. And it should not act as a substitute for medical or mental health treatment. Rather, it can help you gain insight into how your mood changes might be affecting your mental health. 

It’s also worth noting that many of the following questions describe symptoms of many different mental health conditions. We encourage you to use your responses to help you have a productive conversation with your therapist or medical provider about finding the best treatment for your needs.

  1. Do you experience extreme mood swings that others don’t seem to experience?
  2. Have you had episodes of feeling excessively high or euphoric?
  3. Do you go through phases where you feel very down or depressed?
  4. Have these mood swings caused issues in your personal or professional life?
  5. Do you find your energy levels changing significantly over time?
  6. Are there times when you feel unusually irritable or aggressive?
  7. Do you have periods of time when you need significantly less sleep?
  8. Have you engaged in risky or impulsive behaviors during these mood swings?
  9. Does your self-esteem fluctuate dramatically?
  10. Are there times when you feel an unusual increase in talkativeness or speed of thoughts?
  11. Do you experience phases of increased creativity or productivity?
  12. Have you had difficulties in maintaining long-term relationships?
  13. Do you notice significant changes in your appetite or weight during these phases?
  14. Have you ever felt a sense of detachment from reality during mood swings?
  15. Do you find it difficult to concentrate or stay focused?
  16. Have you experienced recurring thoughts of death or suicide?
  17. Do these mood changes come with anxiety or panic attacks?
  18. Do you have a family history of bipolar disorder?
  19. Have family and friends told you that you act like a different person depending on your mood?
  20. Do you feel that these mood swings are out of your control?

Interpreting your quiz results

If you answered “yes” to any of these questions and your mood changes are negatively impacting your life, it could be a sign that you’re living with symptoms of bipolar disorder or another mental health condition. 

Fortunately, there are many effective treatments to help you regain control of your mood. A mental health professional can provide a diagnosis. Together, you can then create a treatment plan that could include:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) 
  • Family-focused therapy (FFT)
  • Medication, including mood stabilizers or antipsychotics
  • Lifestyle changes like diet and exercise changes or stress-reduction techniques

Find support for bipolar disorder with Rula

Living with mood fluctuations from bipolar disorder can take a toll on your health, your relationships, and your ability to live your daily life. If you’re concerned about your mental health, know that you’re not alone and effective treatment is available. 

At Rula, we believe that everyone deserves quality mental healthcare. And we’re committed to making it easier for people to access the bipolar disorder treatment they deserve. To take the first step, we invite you to explore our therapist-matching platform. There, you can quickly and easily connect with in-network providers who specialize in treating mood disorders and can see you as early as this week.

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