Bipolar Disorder: Symptoms & Signs

  • Medical Author:
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

Medically Reviewed on 9/10/2019

The symptoms of bipolar disorder depend upon whether the sufferer is experiencing a depressive or manic episode. A person must have experienced at least one manic episode to be diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Symptoms and signs of manic episodes include elevated or expansive mood, rushed or pressured speech, racing thoughts, decreased need for sleep, poor judgment, increased goal-directed activity, impulsivity, grandiose thoughts (thinking one has superpowers or special abilities), and tangential speech (switching topics frequently).

Major depressive episodes often alternate with manic episodes in bipolar disorder. These episodes can be characterized by feelings of hopelessness, depressed mood, decreased interest in pleasurable activities, changes in appetite, sleep disturbances or changes in sleep patterns, fatigue, and trouble concentrating. Suicidal thoughts can also accompany the symptoms of depression.

Causes of bipolar disorder

The exact cause of bipolar disorder is unknown. It is likely that both environmental and inherited factors play a role in its cause.

Other bipolar disorder symptoms and signs

  • Agitation
  • Anger
  • Anxiety
  • Apathy
  • Appetite Changes
  • Apprehension
  • Crying
  • Decreased Interest in Pleasurable Activities
  • Depressed Mood
  • Discontent
  • Elevated Mood
  • Euphoria
  • False Belief of Superiority
  • Feelings of Hopelessness
  • Grandiose Thoughts
  • Hopelessness
  • Hyperactivity
  • Impulsivity
  • Increased Goal Directed Activity
  • Indulging in High-Risk Behaviors
  • Lack of Concentration
  • Loss of Interest in Daily Activities
  • Mood Changes
  • Poor Judgment
  • Pressured Speech
  • Problems With Concentration
  • Racing Thoughts
  • Rapid Speech
  • Restlessness
  • Sadness
  • Sleep Changes
  • Suicidal Thoughts
  • Tangential Speech
  • Unwanted Thoughts

United States. National Institute of Mental Health. "Bipolar Disorder." November 2015. <>.

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Medically Reviewed on 9/10/2019
United States. National Institute of Mental Health. "Bipolar Disorder." November 2015. <>.