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Understanding symptoms of bipolar disorder

| Sep 2, 2020 | Mental Conditions

It is not only physical conditions that can make you eligible for Social Security Disability benefits. Mental conditions, such as bipolar disorder, can also qualify you. To demonstrate the limitations that the condition has on your ability to work, you must provide the necessary medical evidence.

Bipolar disorder is a mysterious and often poorly understood condition. Its characteristic feature is unpredictable mood swings between extreme lows and highs of emotion. Mental health professionals once referred to it as manic depression, but this terminology is out of date.

Depressive episodes

According to the Mayo Clinic, there are two different types of bipolar disorder. Both involve at least one major depressive episode. Diagnosis of an MDE requires identification of five or more symptoms including fatigue, restlessness, insomnia, changes in weight, inability to concentrate or suicidal thoughts or actions.

MDE can also cause depressed mood, a collective term for feelings such as these:

  • Hopelessness
  • Emptiness
  • Tearfulness
  • Irritability in younger patients.

These symptoms must be severe enough to disrupt your normal activities for an accurate diagnosis of a major depressive episode.

Manic or hypomanic episodes

Episodes of mania or hypomania generally have the same symptoms of excessively heightened emotions. Sometimes these manifest as euphoria, e.g., an exaggerated sense of confidence and well-being. However, excessive anger and aggression are also characteristic of manic/hypomanic episodes.

The main difference between mania and hypomania is the severity. Mania is more severe than hypomania. It sometimes requires hospitalization because it can cause a psychotic break in which you lose touch with reality. Like mania, hypomania can also cause problems with activities and relationships, but these are less noticeable.

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