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Bipolar used to be called manic depressive disorder. That was probably more descriptive, as those with this disorder have episodes of manic behavior interspersed with episodes of depression (see the depression link). The following are some behaviors that may exhibit during a manic stage:  inflated sense of self or grandiosity, decreased need for sleep, talkative, flight of ideas, racing thoughts, increased productivity, greater irritability, more energy, hyped up.

It is my opinion that many people are incorrectly diagnosed with bipolar disorder because they exhibit bursts of anger out of proportion to the triggering events.  Irritability is only one symptom of a bipolar manic phase.  I believe that these people are, instead, suffering from trauma that has not been processed or resolved. The triggers are little recognized memories from the trauma.  Please see the trauma link to get further information.

Many of those with true bipolar disorder have manic episodes that they really like and are loath to get rid of. This is a time of greater productivity, greater creativity and greater self worth. The brain chemistry allows them to stay awake, be alert and have a flow of ideas sometimes for several days at a time.  The crash that follows and signifies the start of the depressive phase, is the hard part of the disease for them, as well as being able to control the destructive behaviors which may be part of the manic phase—excessive drinking or drug use, sexual exploits, excessive buying, or risky sports adventures are all dangers of the manic phase. A 9-5 job might be hard to manage with un-medicated bipolar disorder regardless if you understand and work with your bipolar symptoms. 

Medication has been very helpful for those who can’t manage their episodes. People are usually given a mood stabilizer and an antidepressant. A psychiatrist is best suited to work with the intricacies of finding the right kind of mood stabilizer and antidepressant.

Click Here to access the Bipolar Screening instrument.

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