The gossip magazines have a particularly enjoyable time often of speculating on what celebrity might have bipolar disorder symptoms. Britney Spears shaves her head, and right away, the magazine psychologists goes to town and speculating on what they think she might have. Anytime something happens with a celebrity, they all swing into action. They do this because the public, in general, likes to stereotype what happens when people have a mental illness. Of course, the reality of a mental illness such as a mood disorder is hardly simple enough that you could stereotype it. Bipolar disorder especially, can be fantastically hard to diagnose or define. If you really wonder about how you might know if someone has bipolar, the following symptoms are what you need to keep track of.
The most essential bipolar disorder symptoms have to do with having episodes where one is either up or down by turn. During an upswing, a manic patient can be supremely happy, supremely energetic and appear to be slightly off their rocker. In some people, the manic phase goes so high, it takes them to a state called hypomania - that's when they get so hyper, they completely lose touch with reality and act crazy. If that sounds like a painful state to be in, it's not really true. People in this state can be really happy. If they are artistic, they can experience some of their best creative times during periods like these - like van Gogh for instance.
And then there is the other side - when they actually lose their exuberance and sink into a black hole of depression. What does it feel like to be depressed when you are bipolar? It usually feels the same as it does to anyone with a regular depression. You know that a depressed person is experiencing the other side of bipolar, when regular antidepressants don't do anything for them. If anything, antidepressants cause swinging back and forth more often, or it makes them completely detach themselves from reality. So there is mania and depression - do these bipolar disorder symptoms always occur one after the other? There comes a time in the lives of many bipolar patients when in a perplexing way, they are able to experience both states at the same time. They look kind of irritable when they are this way. Since they don't seem to be terribly euphoric or terribly depressed when they have both symptoms clashing head-on at the same time, it can be hard to tell that such a person is bipolar. They just look like someone who's bad tempered in general.
For this next one, you will probably have to know the patient pretty well. The most striking parts of all bipolar disorder symptoms is an inability that such people have to actually complete anything they start. Go to their home, and you'll find that they have been extremely productive starting new projects. Somehow though, they find it hard to stick to anything. Their whole life is a catalog of great work, all half done. It's just in their nature to want to keep moving on to something new.
And then of course there are the regular problems that people with any kind of mental disorder usually have - trouble with drugs and alcohol, and an inability to perform reasonably well at work or at school. No one of these symptoms can actually point to bipolar all by itself. If you know someone who has any of these symptoms, you'll probably have to dig deeper to find out how many of them they have.