When you think of bipolar disorder, you may picture someone who experiences debilitating mood swings. And while this might be the most common symptom of bipolar disorder, you may not know that the condition can also have physical effects on the body, which can also be as debilitating.
What is Bipolar Disorder?
Bipolar disorder, also known as manic depression, is a mental illness that causes people to experience extreme mood swings. People with bipolar disorder go through episodes of depression, during which they feel sad, hopeless, and helpless, and episodes of mania, during which they feel overly happy and energetic.
Mood swings are a common human experience. It’s something we all go through from time to time. But when it comes to bipolar disorder, the mood swings are extremely severe and ultimately turn your life upside down.
Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder
The symptoms of bipolar disorder can vary depending on which episode a person is experiencing. The symptoms can also vary in intensity from person to person. Some people experience only mild symptoms, while others have more severe symptoms that interfere with their ability to function in day-to-day life.
Common symptoms during manic episodes include:
- Feeling ecstatic or “high”
- Having a lot of energy and feeling restless
- Talking very fast and jumping from one topic to another
- Being easily distracted
- Making impulsive decisions
- Engaging in risky behavior
During a depressive episode, people with bipolar disorder may:
- Feel hopeless, helpless, and worthless
- Lose interest in activities that they used to enjoy
- Have trouble sleeping or sleep too much
- Experience changes in appetite
- Become easily agitated or angered
- Feel fatigued or have low energy levels
- Have difficulty concentrating
- Experience thoughts of death or suicide
What are the Physical Effects of Bipolar Disorder?
Bipolar disorder can take a toll on your physical health, and if left untreated, it can lead to other serious problems, including suicide attempts and substance abuse.
While most people tend to concentrate on the mental and emotional effects of bipolar disorder, the physical effects can also be devastating. Some of the most common physical effects of bipolar disorder include:
Fatigue is one of the most common physical symptoms of bipolar disorder. People with bipolar disorder often feel tired, even when they have had a good night’s sleep. The fatigue can be so severe that it interferes with your ability to function properly during the day.
Increased Energy Levels
During a manic episode, people with bipolar disorder may feel like they have limitless energy. They may go for long periods of time without sleeping or eating. This can lead to physical exhaustion, which can further aggravate the condition.
Headaches are another common physical symptom of bipolar disorder. The headaches can be mild or severe, and they may occur more often during a manic episode.
Elevated Heart Rate
People with bipolar disorder may have an elevated heart rate, even when they are at rest. This can be attributed to the increased energy levels experienced during manic episodes. It can also result from elevated levels of anxiety.
Changes in Weight
Changes in appetite are common during both manic and depressive episodes. People with bipolar disorder may lose their appetite altogether during a depressive episode or become ravenous during a manic episode. This can lead to significant weight loss or weight gain with time.
Hyperventilation is a condition in which you breathe too fast. This can result from anxiety and stress, which are common in people with bipolar disorder. Hyperventilation can also cause dizziness, lightheadedness, and chest pain.
Insomnia is another common symptom of bipolar disorder. People with bipolar disorder may have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep. This can lead to fatigue and make it difficult to function normally. Insomnia in bipolar patients may also result from hyperactivity during manic episodes.
Stomach Aches and Pains
Irritability caused by bipolar disorder can lead to digestive problems, stomach aches, and nausea. The stomach pain can be mild or severe and may be accompanied by diarrhea.
Changes in Sex Drive
During a depressive episode, people with bipolar disorder may lose interest in sex altogether. On the other hand, a manic episode may lead to an increased sex drive, often resulting in risky sexual behaviors.
Physical Pain and Injuries
People with bipolar disorder often experience physical pain, even when there is no apparent cause. They are also prone to inflicting self-injury or harming themselves, leading to pain and injuries.
As you can see, the physical symptoms of bipolar disorder can make it difficult to function normally or live a fulfilling life. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms of bipolar disorder, it is crucial to seek help from a qualified mental health professional.
Although there is no outright cure for bipolar depression, a combination of medication, therapy, and lifestyle changes can help manage the symptoms and allow you to live a full and productive life.