A bipolar disorder is usually the diagnosis given to someone that suffers from manic and/or depressive syndromes at different times of the day, week or the month. These people will usually go through episodes of depression where they experience a period of time where they lose interest in activities, appetite disturbances, sleep problems, decreased energy, feelings of guilt or worthlessness, difficulty concentrating or thinking, suicidal thoughts, auditory or visual hallucinations, and/or periods of isolation. It is a time where they do not want to be involved with anything or anyone. I have seen cases where people will not answer their door, their phone or open their mail during severe depressive episodes.
Then, like a flip of a switch, there are the manic episodes. During the manic episode there are times of hyperactivity, the need for very little or no sleep at all, rapid speech, distraction and there may also be delusions or paranoid thinking. I have seen a case of an individual painting her outside porch with a flashlight at 2:00 in the morning. It is often described as a bundle of energy that you do not know what to do with and cannot stop. It is often very difficult to control a bipolar disorder because of the mood swings. A person suffering from a bipolar disorder often cannot complete his or her activities of daily life or maintain friendships. It is often very difficult for these individuals to get things done and at times they will just walk away when they are overwhelmed or cannot focus on the task at hand. It is extremely important to remain in constant regular treatment and to let your mental health providers know the frequency of your mood swings and the symptoms you experience.
When I am evaluating a bipolar client, I am always concerned with the frequency of treatment. Often times, I will see frequent missed appointments because the person forgot the appointment, could not get out of bed to make the appointment or was in a period of isolation and refused to go to treatment. I usually recommend to these clients to have a friend or relative remind you of the appointment and/or have the friend or relative take you to the appointment. Sometimes it may take more than one friend or relative. If you can, have someone call you the day before your scheduled appointments and someone else call the day of the appointment. A two tiered method of reminders or nudges can be extremely valuable in helping you to get to your scheduled appointments. Some mental health professionals are willing to provide telephonic appointments for those who just simply cannot make it out of the house. Not all providers are willing to provide such a service, but our office is very thankful to those that do!
Disclaimer: These pages are only observations from my point of view of some of the factors that are present in the diagnosis. I am not a doctor, I am a lawyer and I am only providing observations of various signs and symptoms that I have seen during my practice and/or the signs and symptoms that I evaluate when taking a client in front of an Administrative Law Judge.