Understanding Bipolar Disorder

Understanding Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder, otherwise known as bipolar affective disorder, is a mood disorder that used to be called manic depression. Bipolar disorder causes a person's mood to swing from extreme lows to extreme highs. The depressive symptoms can include low self-esteem, feelings of worthlessness, lack of energy, and suicidal thoughts. In contrast, the manic symptoms of this disorder can include agitation, impulsive behavior, excitement, and increased energy. Some sufferers also experience psychotic symptoms, meaning they hear and see things that feel very real but don't exist. There are various types of bipolar disorder, and though the cause is unknown, it is believed to be a combination of environmental and genetic causes. Bipolar disorder is commonly treated with talking therapies and medication.

About bipolar disorder

Bipolar disorder is often a lifelong mental health issue that primarily affects a person's mood. If you have bipolar disorder, you can experience episodes of depression and mania. However, sufferers often feel well between these episodes. When their mood changes, they may notice shifts in how they act or their energy levels. Bipolar disorder symptoms can be severe, affecting various aspects of your life, including relationships, school, and work. Most people develop bipolar disorder before they reach the age of 20. It has been known to develop later in life but rarely develops after a person turns 40 years old. You may have bipolar disorder symptoms for an extended period before receiving a diagnosis. A doctor may diagnose you with something like depression before you get a diagnosis of bipolar disorder. It can often be difficult for doctors to diagnose mental illnesses because there are usually no scans or blood tests to help them make a diagnosis.

Bipolar disorder symptoms

The symptoms of bipolar disorder can make it exceedingly difficult to cope with day-to-day life and harm your work and relationships. Our experts on counseling in Richmond, VA, list the following symptoms of bipolar:


Symptoms of bipolar depression often include:

  • Suicide attempts or thoughts of suicide or death
  • Low mood
  • Gaining or losing weight when you don't mean to
  • Feeling tired and having less energy
  • Overeating or eating less
  • Feeling negative or hopeless
  • Not being able to sleep or sleeping too much
  • Feeling helpless, worthless, or guilty
  • Feeling irritable or restless
  • Having decreased interest in things you usually love
  • Difficulty making decisions, concentrating, or remembering


Symptoms of bipolar mania can include:

  • Feeling excited or happy even when things aren't going well in your life
  • Making big or unusual decisions without thinking them through
  • Being full of exciting and new ideas
  • Believing you can do far more than you actually can
  • Moving from one idea to another quickly
  • Feeling that you do not want to sleep or not being able to sleep
  • Racing thoughts
  • Struggling to focus on one topic and being distracted easily
  • Talking extremely quickly
  • Feeling far better about yourself than you usually do
  • Participating in actions that you usually wouldn't do that can cause further problems like making unwise decisions, gambling, using drugs and alcohol, having casual sex with multiple people, or spending large amounts of money


Hypomania symptoms are much like mania, but the symptoms will be much milder.


Some sufferers experience psychotic symptoms during severe episodes of depression or mania. Symptoms of psychosis can include:

  • Delusions-Delusions mean that you often believe things that are not true. Others around you often find your beliefs to be unusual.
  • Hallucinations-Hallucinations involve feeling, seeing, or hearing things that are not there.

Psychotic symptoms during bipolar episodes may reflect your mood. For example, when you have a manic episode, you might believe that you have superpowers or that the government is monitoring you. In addition, if you have a bout of depression, you might feel extremely guilty about something you have done, think that you are worse than anybody else, or feel like you don't exist.

Bipolar disorder can be debilitating when left untreated. Call us today to start counseling in Richmond, VA, and achieve better mental health.

Contact Us

Please fill out the form below or call us at (321) 424-3174

1323 McDonough St. Apt. B Richmond, Virginia 23224

(321) 424-3174

Monday - Friday 9am-5pm

To Top