What are the symptoms?
Bipolar symptoms usually start during the teenage years or early adulthood although it can be years before the disorder is correctly diagnosed. The disorder tends to run in families and having a close family member with it significantly increases a person's risk of developing it. However, its exact cause is still not clear and there are multiple factors at work including genetics, brain structure and chemistry, use of drugs and alcohol, and stressful life events.
The behaviors that other people usually notice during a manic episode are talking very fast, behaving impulsively, taking part in high risk behaviors (like excessive drinking, gambling or sexual activity), and staying awake for days at a time. Some typical manic behaviors are spending a lot of money impulsively, driving recklessly at high speeds, getting into fights or getting arrested for disruptive behavior. A recent example of this type of behavior that was very public was Charlie Sheen before and after he was fired from his television show. During severe episodes there may also be symptoms of psychosis such as hallucinations (seeing things or hearing voices that others cannot see or hear) or delusions (having false beliefs).
Learn more about diagnosing bipolar disorder
This simple questionnaire is designed to help you determine if you have symptoms of bipolar disorder and could benefit from professional help.