Reviewed by Melinda (Santa) Gladden, LCSW
Do you have someone in your life that seems to go through difficulties? You might be worried about your spouse, partner, family member, or best friend because of different things that they are going through in life. You probably know about bipolar disorder because it is a common condition that most people have at least heard about. If you have some reason to believe that your loved one might have bipolar disorder, then you will want to look out for various bipolar tendencies. If you can recognize certain things happening, it will be easier for you to suggest having your loved one go to the doctor for a proper diagnosis.
Read on to learn about different bipolar tendencies that you should be looking out for. The bipolar tendencies can be split into two categories, known as “mania” tendencies and “depressive” tendencies. Essentially, bipolar individuals will go through periods of heightened energy known as a mania that will change how they act. They will also experience down periods known as depressive bouts. If you can recognize different things that your loved one is doing during these times, it will be easier to conclude that they might have bipolar disorder. Just remember that no amount of observation from you is as good as a professional diagnosis, and you need to get the opinion of a doctor as soon as you can.
The Mania Bipolar Tendencies
First, you are going to look at potential mania signs to look out for. During this period, your loved one will be more energetic and active than usual. These are the “up” periods of bipolar disorder, but that does not mean that mania is a good thing. In fact, mania can lead to people participating in many self-destructive behaviors. Keep reading to learn about things that someone might do during mania.
Feeling Like the one TheyDon’t Need to Sleep
Sometimes when a bipolar individual is going through mania, they will have so much energy that they feel like they do not need to sleep at all. If you have noticed that your loved one is staying up for a very long time without sleep, then that could be a sign that they are going through mania. It is not necessarily that your loved one will not sleep at all, though. They might sleep for just a couple of hours per night and act as if they are good to go. Of course, this is not healthy for them to do, but that is just how they might feel when they are in this mania period.
Racing Thoughts and Lightning Fast Talking
When someone is going through mania, they will often experience racing thoughts. The thoughts just keep coming fast, and people often respond to this by talking to others fast. If you notice that your loved one seems to be talking a mile-per-minute, then that is a sign that they are experiencing mania. It seems much more likely that your loved one could be suffering from the bipolar disorder if this is the case, but you still should not jump to conclusions.
Extreme and Unusual Happiness
Being extremely happy certainly does not seem like a bad thing, but that does not mean that it is not unusual. Someone who is going through mania might become excessively happy for a period. It might even seem like they are “high” like someone who has taken certain drugs. If your loved one starts to act way happier than usual, and this period of time lasts for several days or weeks, then it’s likely a mania period. This could be a sign that you should get them to talk to a doctor.
Getting Distracted Way Too Easily
When someone gets distracted excessively easily, that is another possible bipolar tendency. Many people going through mania will start big projects and then just drop them right in the middle because something distracted them. This by itself is not a big enough sign to say that someone has bipolar disorder, but it is a definite sign of mania in someone that is known to have it. Being easily distracted can be problematic in a professional sense as well. It is good to encourage a doctor’s office visit when you see many of these signs together.
Many people with bipolar loved ones have experienced watching someone with bipolar disorder exhibit an unusual confidence level. Sometimes bipolar individuals will feel extremely overconfident in their abilities. It is like they think they are invincible and that no one can touch them during these periods. This can lead to very bad decisions because they do not take the consequences of their actions into account. If you see your loved one beaming with confidence and making questionable choices, then it is going to be good to try to step in and help them get to a doctor for a diagnosis.
Impulsive Actions And Restlessness
People going through bouts of mania will often become impulsive and do things on a whim. They might decide to do something suddenly and will just start some major project. For instance, a bipolar individual might suddenly decide to rearrange all of the furniture in the house. People with bipolar disorder often become so restless that they feel as if they must do something. It might drive those nuts to just sit there quietly and calmly when they have all of this nervous energy.
Risky behaviors need to be looked out for, too, because they can be part of the mania process. Sometimes, people going through mania will make very poor choices such as seeking unsafe sex, gambling away money, or buying expensive items for no reason. They are not thinking right when they do these things, and they need someone who can step in to try to keep them from doing something self-destructive. Not all people who do self-destructive things like this have bipolar disorder, but this is a possible sign that someone is in the mania period of bipolar disorder.
Depressive tendencies are going to be sort of the opposite of what is mentioned above. These tendencies will be the ones that occur during the depressive episodes that someone will have as a bipolar individual. These will be much more subdued than the high-energy actions mentioned above, but that does not mean that they are less problematic. Be mindful of all of these potential bipolar tendencies so that you can take action as someone who cares and wants to help.
Prolonged Periods of Sadness
Someone who goes through long and intense periods of sadness could be experiencing a depressive episode. It can be tough to differentiate other types of depression from bipolar depression without seeing other bipolar tendencies. You might be able to get your loved one to take a depression test to get some more information about how they are feeling. Either way, when you know that someone is depressed and has been for quite some time, it is going to be best to get them to go see the doctor. Doctors can help people who are depressed to get back on track to feel more positive about life again.
Pulling Away From Loved Ones
It is not unusual for bipolar individuals to pull away from loved ones when they feel depressed. Someone might try to cut himself or herself off from the world and just hide in their bedroom. They will not feel like they can face their friends, family, or others that they care about. This withdrawn nature can last for a long time when someone is going through a deep depressive episode. Typically, medication and standard bipolar disorder treatments can help to mitigate periods like this. This is why it is so important to get your loved one to reach out for help if they are showing signs like this.
Feeling No Interest In Activities That They Used To Love
Those with bipolar disorder will often start to show no interest in things that they normally love. If you are loved, one usually enjoys watching basketball with you and suddenly has no interest in watching the game that is a good example. Someone who loves to play guitar might not want to even pick the instrument up any longer. This is a big sign that someone is going through a depressive bipolar episode, and you will want to encourage him or her to seek help if possible.
People who are in the middle of depressive bouts will likely not have much energy at all. Their energy levels can sometimes get so low that even staying awake will seem like a bother. People who are deeply depressed like this might not even bother to get out of bed in the morning. If someone seems like they have much lower energy than usual, then it is something that you should certainly take note of. It could be an important sign that things are worse than you realized.
Loss of Appetite
Bipolar individuals who are depressed might even stop eating for a long time. Some depressed people will have to be talked into eating anything at all when they are in that down period of their bipolar cycle. If you have noticed big changes in the appetite of your loved one, then know that it is a potential bipolar tendency. It is not something that should be taken lightly because it could become a serious problem if your loved one does not start eating like normal soon. Luckily, doctors can help to get them feeling better with various treatments.
Memory and Concentration Issues
Many people with bipolar disorder will have significant problems with their memories. You might notice your loved one having issues recalling certain things that just happened not that long ago. Concentration issues will often pop up as well. Sometimes it is hard to get bipolar people who are depressed to concentrate on things for long periods. This can make it tough for them to make important decisions because they really are not capable of doing their best thinking while they are like this.
Finally, the most troubling sign of depressive bipolar tendencies will be suicidal thoughts. Many bipolar individuals will have thoughts like these when they fall into a deep depression. It can be a dark time for those with bipolar disorder, and you need to be there to help them. If you or someone you love is feeling suicidal or thinking too much about death, know that help is available. You can reach out to talk to someone at any time, and you are never alone.
Bipolar disorder can feel like the toughest thing in the world to get through sometimes, but life can turn around. Treatments for bipolar disorder can make managing the condition much easier. Your loved one can start to feel more normal as time goes on, but the first step is to be diagnosed by a doctor. Try to get a doctor’s appointment set up sometime soon if you can. This will allow your loved one to start walking down the path of recovery and toward brighter days ahead.
NOTES: No changes needed.
- Does not go against what is clinically accepted.
- Does not encourage mindsets or practices that may be harmful to the reader.
- Is factual and up-to-date.