There are many mental disorders that may affect a person's mood, behavior and everyday function. Aside from the normal highs and lows that everyone has from time to time, mental illness affects functionality in daily activities like work, school and close relationships.
Bipolar disorder, frequently referred to as manic depression, is one of the most recognizable mental illnesses. It is characterized by very high, or manic, and very low, or depressive, moods that can alternate within hours or days of each other depending on the individual.
Causes for the disease are largely unknown, although the concept of heredity is widely accepted in the mental health community. There is no cure for manic depression, but medication and psychotherapy are used to control the disease. When carefully monitored, bipolar patients can lead relatively normal, productive lives. They can hold down jobs, successfully attend school and have close personal relationships.
When some of the classic early warning signs of bipolar disorder are noticed in loved ones, it is time to seek professional help. Signs of depressive behavior are fairly well-known and recognized, but the symptoms of manic episodes are not. They include the following:
Extremely High Energy
Manic episodes are noted by a decrease in sleep with restless behavior and little fatigue. The person may be hyper and in a state of nearly constant activity of one kind or another.
Inability to think things through or consider the consequences of one's actions is a key symptom of mania. Silly or inappropriate behavior, using humor in serious or unwelcomed situations and impulsiveness are common. Manic episodes may also result in sexual promiscuity, financial extravagance, grandiose plans and setting unrealistic goals.
Manic behavior is characterized by pressured speech. To the observer, this comes out as a fast-paced stream of non-stop babble on unimportant topics delivered with urgency. It is nearly impossible for anyone to interrupt or participate in the one-way conversation. At times, the speed may be so rapid that no one can understand the actual words being formed except the person speaking them.
Clang associations are another symptom of a manic episode. While it is sometimes seen in other mental illnesses, it frequently signals bipolar disorder. The person speaks in rhymes or alliteration with words that do not fit together or make sense when used in the same sentence. Lyrics from the song "X Amount of Words" by Blue October is a classic example of clang association: "Imagine the worst. Systematic, sympathetic, quite pathetic, apologetic, paramedic. Your heart is prosthetic."
Exhilaration, extreme excitement and giddiness are three warning signs of mania. The person may also be easily irritated or annoyed and behave in an unexpected hostile manner. During a manic episode, look also for extremes in creative and disjointed thinking and being easily distracted or derailed from focused thought.
When the classic warning signs of mania in bipolar individuals is noticed, they can get help, control the symptoms and lead a more productive lifestyle.