Psychologist Helping Soldier


  1. Bipolar Self-Test
  2. What is Bipolar Disorder?
  3. What are Manic Episodes?
  4. What are Depressive Episodes?
  5. What are Psychotic Episodes?
  6. Bipolar Disorder Types
  7. 10 Key Signs
  8. Diagnosis & Treatment

Bipolar Disorder Test (Am I Bipolar?)

When people hear the word, “mental illness,” they often think of depression or schizophrenia. Those conditions should be on everyone’s mind. But people should be aware of bipolar disorder as well.

2.6 percent of Americans have bipolar disorder. That totals 5.7 million people. It cuts across all demographic groups, affecting men and women alike in equal proportions.

Many people are aware of a few symptoms of it. They may fill out a bipolar self-test that focuses on mood swings and feelings of anxiety.

Try this self test to see if you might have bipolar disorder:

For periods of time, do you have inflated self-esteem or a sense that you are better than others?

This test should be used as an educational tool. It is not a replacement for a proper diagnosis of any mental health disorder. If you are experiencing mental health issues, please contact a professional as soon as you can. If you are having thoughts of suicide, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255.

What Is Bipolar Disorder?

Bipolar disorder, formerly known as manic-depressive illness, is a mental health condition characterized by extreme mood swings that include emotional highs (mania or hypomania) and lows (depression). These mood swings can affect sleep, energy levels, behavior, judgment, and the ability to think clearly. Episodes of mood swings may occur rarely or multiple times a year. While most people will experience some emotional symptoms between episodes, some may not experience any.

What are Manic Episodes?

There are two different types of manic episodes: mania and hypomania. They share the same symptoms but differ in severity — mania being more severe.

Both manic and hypomanic episodes will include three or more of the following:

  • Uncontrollable energy
  • Unfitting euphoria and happiness
  • Getting distracted or bored with tasks
  • Unrealistic and aggressive planning for the future
  • Feeling of superiority and self-importance
  • Excessive confidence
  • Racing thoughts and rapid speech
  • Thoughts that bounce from one idea to the next
  • Hyper-sexuality and libido
  • Insomnia, yet low fatigue
  • Denial of manic state of mind
  • Psychotic breaks from reality

What are Depressive Episodes?

Depressive episodes, also referred to as major depressive episodes, include depressed moods severe enough to interrupt your daily life.

A depressive episode includes five or more of the following symptoms:

  • Extreme sadness (major depression), Emptiness, emotional darkness, and hopelessness
  • Changes in appetite and metabolism
  • Weight loss or gain
  • Insomnia or oversleeping
  • Sluggish behavior or restlessness
  • Sense of worthlessness or guilt
  • Shortened attention span and problems remembering things
  • Thoughts that bounce from one idea to the next
  • Lack of interest in activities that usually bring joy
  • Thoughts of, or plans of committing suicide

What about Psychotic Episodes?

Concerning bipolar disorder, a psychotic episode sometimes become present when in a manic state. We describe psychosis as a person who has a loss of contact with reality.

During psychosis the individual’s thoughts and perceptions will be disturbed, making it hard for them to tell what is real and what is not:

  • Psychosis includes delusions and hallucinations
  • An individual may have incoherent or nonsensical speech
  • Showing behavior that is inappropriate for the situation they are in
  • The person can also experience social withdrawal and difficulty functioning

The Different Types of Bipolar Disorder

Many people don’t know that there are actually different types of bipolar disorder; all characterized by their own symptoms. Although they are similar, it is important to know what type of bipolar disorder you have so that you can receive the treatment that will work best for you.

Bipolar 1 Disorder

Bipolar I Disorder is characterized by manic episodes lasting at least 7 days or by manic symptoms so severe that immediate hospital care is required. These manic episodes are typically followed by depressive episodes, usually lasting at least 2 weeks. A key distinguishing feature of Bipolar I is the presence of at least one episode of mania, which can significantly impair daily functioning and may include psychosis. Individuals may experience periods of relatively stable mood between episodes; however, without treatment, manic and depressive episodes tend to recur and may worsen over time.

Bipolar 2 Disorder

Bipolar II Disorder is defined by a pattern of depressive episodes and hypomanic episodes, without the full-blown manic episodes that characterize Bipolar I Disorder. Hypomanic episodes involve similar symptoms to mania but are less severe and do not cause significant impairment in social or occupational functioning. The depressive episodes in Bipolar II can be particularly long-lasting and debilitating. Bipolar II is often misdiagnosed as major depression due to the prominence of depressive episodes within the illnesses course.

Cyclothymic Disorder (Cyclothymia)

Cyclothymic Disorder, or Cyclothymia, involves periods of hypomanic symptoms and periods of depressive symptoms lasting for at least 2 years (1 year in children and adolescents); however, the symptoms do not meet the full diagnostic criteria for a hypomanic episode and a major depressive episode. People with Cyclothymia experience chronic, fluctuating mood disturbances that can impact relationships and daily functioning. Despite the milder nature of mood swings compared to Bipolar I and II Disorders, Cyclothymia can lead to significant distress and impairment.

Rapid Cycling

Rapid cycling is a severe form of bipolar disorder that is diagnosed when a person experiences over 4 manic (hyper or hypo) episodes, or depressive episodes, within a year. Along with having more manic or depressive episodes, a rapid cycler will also rarely have an in-between, meaning they will go from high to low and back to high again with no break. This can accompany any type of bipolar disorder. It may also only be temporarily caused by a change in the persons’ life or medications.

Rapid cycling can impair the person’s ability to function normally and can deteriorate their quality of life.

Not Otherwise Specified (NOS)

Bipolar disorder NOS is classified as a bipolar disorder that doesn’t follow a pattern. An example of this is having multiple episodes of hypomania but with no depressive symptoms following.

10 Key Signs You Have Bipolar Disorder

The signs of bipolar disorder are more complicated than just the above. Once you understand what the signs are, you can then get a formal bipolar diagnosis and treatment plan.

Below are the ten key signs of bipolar disorder.

1. Feeling Upbeat

During manic periods a person may have sudden and overwhelming feelings of euphoria and self-confidence. You may notice a person going through a manic episode because they are laughing uncontrollably or they have a persistent smile — perhaps even during stressful or sad circumstances.

To an onlooker, the person may appear to have improved their mental health. But this only lasts a short period before they crash back into a depressive state. These periods can last for days and start or stop without warning.

2. Racing Thoughts

Racing thoughts are another common feature of manic episodes. They can occur in a number of ways.

These racing thoughts may cause the person to be unable to pay attention. They may also turn from one subject matter to another quickly, forgetting the originating topic of discussion.

These racing thoughts can be present in writing, signing, playing an instrument, or another means of expression. These expressions usually aren’t consistent with their regular means of expression.

3. Less Need for Sleep

Someone in a manic phase may only need a few hours of sleep to function. And they may not even seem sleep deprived as they appear energetic.

However, sleep deprivation will still affect their body and mind. The role of sleep plays an important role in the functioning of someone with bipolar disorder.

A 2016 study on sleep in people with bipolar disorder showed that sleep deprivation can not only cause a manic episode, but it could also make those episodes worse.

4. Poor Attention Span

A person may struggle with their attention span during manic or depressive phases.
In manic phases, this is partially due to their racing thoughts. They can keep a person from paying attention to any one thing at a time.

During a depressive phase, they may be experiencing anhedonia. Anhedonia is the inability to feel pleasure, which causes the person to mentally withdraw from their environment. Because of this lack of pleasure, they are naturally much less interested in listening to nearly anything — impeding on their focus.

5. Hallucinations and Delusions

Hallucinations and delusions are among the most troubling signs of bipolar disorder. They can occur in manic or depressive episodes. Anyone with a bipolar condition can have them, regardless of their bipolar disorder type.

These hallucinations can be visual, auditory, tactile, or olfactory hallucinations. However, the most common hallucinations in bipolar disorder are auditory — meaning they hear voices or things that aren’t actually there.

Delusions are another break from reality these people face. Perhaps they believe someone is out to get them. Or perhaps they believe they are directly communicating with a higher power. In extreme cases, some people with bipolar disorder may think they are some type of god.

6. Grandiosity

Grandiosity is the feeling of tremendous self-importance. These feelings can arise independently from delusions, or they may be an extension of them.

This person may feel superior to others around them. They may even let those people around them know. This can come in the form of boasting about accomplishments or incessant self-talk.

Sometimes these feelings can be more subtle. A person may leave their job and start a new company, despite showing no signs previously of wanting to do so. They may take on more tasks at work because they believe that they are capable of doing anything.

A person with bipolar disorder may experience grandiosity for just a few days. After their manic period passes the individual may feel shame for what they said. It is important to comfort them and not take offense at their remarks.

7. Engaging in Risky Behavior

A person with bipolar disorder may engage in different risky acts. As mentioned previously, they may leave their job in a manic phase.

Sometimes the behaviors can be even more risky than that. Roughly half of bipolar patients engage in risky sexual behavior during their manic periods. They may have sex without protection and with multiple partners, increasing their risk of getting an STD.

Perhaps this person may start gambling or spending a lot of money. They may buy things they don’t need, or they may start drinking alcohol and taking drugs. They may become an adrenaline junkie, engaging in dangerous activities like skydiving.

A person’s family members or friends may not notice the risky behaviors. They may only surface when strangers appear at a person’s house or after a lot of money has been spent. It is important to keep an eye on a person before they engage in risks.

8. Clear Signs of Sadness

The single most prominent sign of a depressive episode is extreme feelings of sadness. Like feelings of happiness, they may appear suddenly.

This sadness can be overwhelming. A person may not find humor in things that they used to laugh at. They may withdraw from important activities and social gatherings.

Other negative feelings may accompany sadness. A person may feel empty. They may feel like they don’t have anything important to say.

Despite knowing that they are in a depressive episode, they may feel like their sadness will never go away. They may notice that their feelings are making other people sad.

This can cause their feelings to get worse. They may remain unconvinced of their worth, even when shown examples of it.

9. Constant Fatigue

The second most prominent sign of bipolar disorder is fatigue. In a depressive episode, a person may get a full night’s rest, yet still wake up exhausted.

Stimulants like coffee may not give them the energy boost they need. This can lead to avoiding certain tasks that exert a lot of energy, especially physical ones.

Others may oversleep, sleeping for ten or more hours. Even then they might not feel as refreshed as they expected they would with extra sleep.
Some may try to consume more food to gain more energy, leading to weight gain. Others may feel so tired that they do not eat, causing them to lose weight.

10. Suicidal Thoughts

The rate of suicide amongst people with bipolar disorder is 10 to 30 times higher than the general population. Twenty to sixty percent of people with bipolar disorder attempt suicide at least once. Up to 20 percent die by suicide.

It’s scary to say, but this can come with minimal warning. They may experience strong sudden bursts of suicidal thoughts. They may also experience thoughts over a long period of time, across both their manic and depressive episodes.

Suicide is a complicated phenomenon. No two people who experience suicidal thoughts are the same.

But anyone who experiences suicidal thoughts and tendencies can get help. Anyone can call the National Suicide Helpline at 800-273-8255 and talk to a trained counselor. Joining a suicide resilience group helps a person talk about their thoughts in a supportive space.

Diagnosis and Treatment of Bipolar Disorder

While the self-test above can be an informative tool, a diagnosis needs to be made by a professional mental health expert.

Therapy and medication can be effective treatment options for Bipolar Disorder.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy can help people better control both their manic and depressive behaviors. Psychoeducation can help people understand themselves and their condition better. Interpersonal and Social Rhythm helps people focus on developing regular daily habits to add stability to one’s life.

Medications such as antidepressants can help prevent depressive episodes. Antipsychotics may help people with severe manic episodes avoid breaks from reality. Mood stabilizers can help a person better keep a consistent mood. Anti-anxiety medications can be a short-term treatment to help treat anxiety and sleep disturbances.

Unfortunately, finding the right medication regime is difficult in people with bipolar disorder. Oftentimes different medications, or combination of medications, needed to be tested and managed by a highly skilled doctor.

If you happen to be reading this and looking for help in the Southern California area, Solara Mental Health can be an option for you. Our San Diego Mental Health Center treats disorders such as bipolar disorders. Our skilled psychiatrists and therapists may be able to provide the help you’ve been looking for.

Contact us today if you are looking for a proper diagnosis and treatment for your disorder.


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  6. Obo, C.S., Sori, L.M., Abegaz, T.M. et al. Risky sexual behavior and associated factors among patients with bipolar disorders in Ethiopia. BMC Psychiatry 19, 313 (2019).