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Mental Health

Could My Mood Swings Be a Sign of Bipolar Disorder?

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By Apollo 24|7, Published on- 11 July 2022

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Most of us experience mood swings every now and then. Occasional shifts in mood are completely normal. Daily hassles, stress, and anxiety are some of the major factors that can trigger intermittent mood swings. As long as the changes in the mood do not have a major impact on your life, they are considered to be natural. However, if you are experiencing frequent swings in mood that are intense enough to take a severe toll on your daily life, including your work, relationships, or overall health, it may be a sign of a mental illness such as bipolar disorder that requires medical attention. 

 

What are mood swings?

A mood swing can be described as a quick or intense fluctuation in emotions. A person experiencing a mood swing may quickly switch from feeling happy and elated to feeling irritable, agitated, or sad. In most cases, lifestyle factors such as stress, sleep deprivation, unhealthy diet, and life-changing events cause such sudden changes in the mood.

 

How are mood swings associated with bipolar disorder?

Mood swings are one of the characteristic symptoms of bipolar disorder. Formerly known as manic depression, bipolar disorder is a mental disorder that causes extreme shifts in the mood that include episodes of highs (mania or abnormally elevated mood) and episodes of lows (sad or depressive mood). 

A person with bipolar changes may also experience changes in their energy levels, sleeping patterns, thinking, concentration, behaviour, and ability to perform daily activities. The time taken for mood episodes to alternate from high to low and vice versa can vary from person to person. The mood swings triggered by bipolar disorder usually occur only a few times a year. 

mood swings

 

What are the symptoms of bipolar disorder? 

The symptoms of bipolar disorder depend on the two episodes: 

 

1. Mania or hypomania episodes

Mania and hypomania are two different types of episodes, however, they share a similar set of symptoms. Mania is generally more intense than hypomania and causes more prominent problems at work, school and social activities. 

  • Abnormally high levels of energy
  • Racing thoughts
  • Increased distraction
  • Unusual talkative behaviour
  • Increased libido (sexual drive) 
  • Poor decision-making
  • Impaired sense of judgment
  • Abnormally elevated levels of self-confidence, self-esteem, and self-importance.

 

2. Depressive episodes

A major depressive episode causes symptoms that are serious enough to disrupt daily activities at work or home. During a depressive episode, a person may experience five or more of these symptoms:

  • Fatigue or loss of energy
  • Feeling sad, empty, or hopeless
  • Loss of interest in activities
  • Insomnia or sleeping too much
  • Anxiety or restlessness
  • Eating too much or too less
  • Difficulty concentrating and focusing
  • Thoughts of self-harm and suicide.

 

How is bipolar disorder diagnosed?  

As a part of the diagnosis, your physician may conduct a physical exam to see if any pre-existing medical condition is causing the symptoms. He may also refer you to a psychiatrist who will likely ask you about your thoughts, feelings and behaviour patterns. The psychiatrist may also ask you to fill out and submit a psychological self-assessment form. You may also be asked to maintain a daily record of moods, sleep patterns or other factors that may aid the diagnosis. The psychiatrist will compare your symptoms with the criteria for bipolar and related disorders and share a diagnosis. 

patient history

 

Since bipolar disorder is a lifelong condition, the objective of the treatment is to manage the symptoms. Depending on your condition, the treatment regimen may include medications (such as mood stabilizers, antidepressants, antipsychotics, and/or antianxiety medications), counselling and support, and in rare cases hospitalization. 

 

Extreme mood swings are a hallmark of bipolar disorder. A person with bipolar disorder usually experiences two types of episodes - mania (or hypomania) and depression. While the condition has no cure, it can be successfully managed with medications and treatment. Suffering from frequent or extreme mood swings?

 

Consult an Apollo Psychologist

 

Medically reviewed by Dr Sonia Bhatt.

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