Bipolar Disorder Symptoms You Need to Know

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Bipolar disorder is often misunderstood by many people. Trying to live with this mental health condition challenges even the strongest person. While it may seem like there isn’t a way to rise above it, the right program to treat bipolar disorder symptoms can make a real difference in your life. Working with the right treatment team helps you learn to manage your symptoms, enjoy more peace of mind, and plan for the bright future you deserve. 

What is Bipolar Disorder?

Bipolar disorder is a mental illness that affects approximately 2.3 million Americans. Previously known as manic depression, this condition is known for causing episodes that range from feeling emotionally high or manic to periods of feeling extremely low. Diagnosis for this illness most commonly happens when a person is a teenager or in their early twenties but can happen at other times, too. 

The Different Types of Bipolar Disorder

More than one type of bipolar disorder exists, and a proper diagnosis of which type a person has can be made by a medical professional. The kinds of bipolar disorder include:

Bipolar I Disorder: Having at least one manic episode that is preceded or followed by a hypomanic or depressive episode. 

Bipolar II Disorder: Having at least one major depressive episode and hypomanic episode but never having a manic episode. 

Cyclothymic disorder: Experiencing at least two years (one year for children and teens) of several periods of both hypomania symptoms and depressive symptoms. The depressive symptoms are less severe than major depression. 

Other: Other types of bipolar disorders include those brought on by things like a medical condition such as a stroke or multiple sclerosis or the use or abuse of drugs or alcohol. 

Bipolar Disorder Symptoms

Many bipolar disorder symptoms can occur as a person cycles through the illness. If you are concerned you or someone you care about has bipolar disorder, it’s important to learn to recognize the signs and discuss them with your doctor or other treatment professional. Symptoms can include:

Risky and Impulsive Behavior

Symptoms that take place during a manic episode can include acting impulsively or undertaking risky behavior. The person may take risks with physical or sexual activity without regard for possible negative outcomes or they may spend money recklessly. They focus on satisfying a need for thrills and feeling a sense of being bullet-proof that can end up causing damage.  

Hallucinations and Psychosis

Auditory hallucinations commonly occur as part of bipolar disorder symptoms. The person may hear voices that don’t exist and refuse to believe they aren’t actually happening. Hallucinations may occur as a symptom on their own or as part of psychosis. 

Grandiose Delusions

The person may believe they possess superpowers, are famous or live a life that doesn’t actually exist. They believe they have great self-importance and do not understand when any of these thoughts are disputed by others. This symptom typically happens during manic and hypomanic phases. 


Common during manic and hypomanic episodes, different types of hyperactive behavior can point to the presence of bipolar disorder. This behavior can include insomnia, unusual amounts of energy, and a need to constantly do things and be on the go. The person often exhibits unusual levels of talkativeness, has racing thoughts, and is easily distracted. Having a conversation or engaging in a singular activity with them often proves difficult or impossible to do. 

Signs of Depression

During depressive phases, many symptoms are similar to those experienced by those with depression. The person may express sadness, feelings of hopelessness, and be unable to feel joy. These feelings may contribute to them losing interest in hobbies and activities they normally enjoy. They may withdraw from those around them and isolate themselves. Some people experience a decrease in appetite and energy levels and may feel suicidal during the depressive phase.

What to Do if You Have Bipolar Disorder

Receiving a diagnosis of bipolar disorder can feel upsetting at first, but the good news is that a person has many choices for proven, effective treatment. Some people enter residential programs to help learn to manage their bipolar disorder symptoms while others benefit from outpatient choices. 

Outpatient treatment programs involve attending treatment appointments that range from a few hours a day for two days a week to attending several hours per day for five to seven days per week. Outpatient treatment allows a person to receive valuable help during the day while still being able to return to their homes and personal lives at night. 

Treatment for bipolar disorder typically includes individual therapy that helps the person identify the signs of their disorder and learn ways to manage them. People also benefit from taking medications to help alleviate their symptoms. Regular use of these prescription drugs helps a person level out their moods and live a happier, more stable life. 

Because many people who develop mental illnesses like bipolar disorder also experience addiction to drugs or alcohol, receiving treatment for both illnesses proves beneficial. Many programs offer treatment for both bipolar disorder and substance use disorders, which allows the person to gain control and make real progress with both conditions. 

Treatment for Bipolar Disorder Symptoms in Los Angeles

Living with bipolar disorder presents a unique set of challenges. The right treatment program can help you learn to manage your symptoms and improve the quality of your life. If you know a young person who needs help for their bipolar disorder symptoms, we can help. We provide several outpatient programs designed to treat bipolar disorder and any accompanying addiction to drugs or alcohol. Contact Launch Centers in Los Angeles today and let us show you how to get started on the road to recovery.

Medically Reviewed by: Jess Beck, LCSW


Jess comes to Launch Centers with over a decade of experience in mental health and addiction treatment with both adolescents and adults. As the former Acting Director of the Addictive Behaviors Clinic at the West Los Angeles Veterans Affairs Medical Center, she developed expertise in the field of evidenced-based addiction treatment.

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