In the world of mental health, amateur diagnosis runs rampant. We often use terms unwittingly to describe emotional ups and downs, even if they are supposed to be reserved for very real mental health issues – and in doing so, we blur the lines between relatively “normal” difficulties and real, diagnosable mental illnesses.
On the other side of this same coin, our overuse of the terms can also minimize how seriously we take true mental illness when it is professionally diagnosed. And similarly, can cause many, many people to go undiagnosed altogether.
Now – it was extremely important to get that clarification out of the way, to establish the (sometimes murky) distinction between the terms we commonly use and the mental health problems that bear the same names.
Above all, you should seek professional diagnosis if you worry that you or your spouse is suffering from some form of mental illness.
Today, we’re looking at one of the most commonly overused terms – that’s also one of the mostly commonly undiagnosed issues: Bipolar Disorder.
If you’re concerned that your spouse may be bipolar, examining these symptoms can help you decide if you need to seek further help. Again, the expertise of a professional is always paramount here. This is not meant to determine whether or not your spouse has a mental health condition, but rather to help you understand if you need to explore it further.
Here are 10 symptoms you can be on the lookout for:
1. Incomplete Tasks
People with Bipolar Disorder struggle between bouts of high energy and bouts of low energy, and this is manifested in incomplete projects at home, at work, or otherwise. These projects are begun with enthusiasm during a manic state, and abandoned as worthless or too difficult during a depressive state.
2. Speed Talking
In a manic state, it can feel like the mind is running totally amok. In attempts to vocalize these feelings, bipolar people can end up tripping over their words, trying to speak as quickly as the thoughts are racing in, and end up almost incomprehensible to the listener.
3. Alcohol/Drug Abuse
Nearly 50% of diagnosed sufferers of Bipolar Disorder also struggle with substance abuse of some kind. It is often linked to escapist behavior, as a bipolar person may seek drugs or alcohol to help calm spells of mania or to escape bouts of depression. In most cases, it’s an attempt at self-medicating.
This “up” side of Bipolar Disorder can actually be enjoyable for many people, because it generally involves feelings of excitement and euphoria without the distress of other manic symptoms. It’s only when you see other, drastically unhappier states that you can recognize hypomania as an indicator of a problem.
The opposite end of hypomania, depression in Bipolar Disorder is like “regular” depression – lack of appetite, lethargy, sadness without a specific cause, etc. – and can have the same devastating effects on work, relationships, and even physical health.
Somewhere between a manic state and a depressed state, people suffering from Bipolar Disorder can be extremely irritable. It’s like the sensations of depression, but with the energy of mania. This makes them extremely edgy with little room for relief.
7. Problems at Work
The drastic emotional ups and downs cause difficulty in all aspects of life, including the workplace. Since most jobs don’t really have the flexibility to change expectations with an employee’s mental or emotional state, Bipolar Disorder may lead to unmet deadlines, unfinished projects, even issues with customers or coworkers – especially if other employees/supervisors are unaware of the condition.
8. Sleeping Issues
Both sides of Bipolar Disorder can cause problems with sleep. Manic states can make sleep extremely difficult, and depressive states can lead to wanting to sleep all the time. Neither is healthy.
9. Erratic Behavior
Manic phases can lead to a distorted sense of consequence, making people behave erratically without considering the outcome. Similarly, deep depression can make things feel meaningless – which may also lead to destructive behavior.
10. “Flight of Ideas”
Because of the rapid thoughts that come with states of mania, Bipolar Disorder can also cause people to feel like they can’t even grasp the ideas that are forming – simply because there are too many, moving much to quickly. It feels like they can’t think straight, and the resulting anxiety only makes the problem worse.
If these symptoms sound familiar – if they seem to describe problems your spouse struggles with – it might be time to talk to your doctor or pursue other professional help. Bipolar Disorder can be extremely difficult to live with, but proper diagnosis, medication, and some lifestyle management, it doesn’t have to create a rift in your marriage or be a tremendous burden on your spouse’s life.
Millions of people across the world have been diagnosed, and are now finding a happier, more stable life through various forms of treatment.
If Bipolar Disorder may be affecting your marriage – seek help today!