One possible answer to severe and intense mood swings could be bipolar disorder, a form of manic depression, where the sufferer can display behaviours ranging from deep depression to extreme elation or 'highs' on a frequent basis.
It is important to distinguish between the main three elements of bipolar disorder which are: depressive symptoms, manic symptoms, and mood cycles.
As with many health issues, there are many symptoms to depression, and a person does not have to suffer from all of them to be depressed. Generally a depressed person will be quite miserable and pessimistic as well as:
- Variation of mood during the day. It's often worse in the morning, improving as the day goes on -but the pattern can be the other way around.
- Disturbed sleep, usually waking early and being unable to get back to sleep
- A general slowing down of thought, speech and movement
- Feelings of anxiety
- Tearfulness for no reason
- Short temper
- Lack of energy and constant exhaustion
- Inability to enjoy things
- Lack of concentration
- Difficulty making decisions
- Feeling that you're forgetful
- Negative thoughts about the future
- Feelings of guilt
- Loss of identity
- Blaming self and low self-esteem
- Feelings of hopelessness and despair
- Unrealistic sense of failure
- Loneliness, even when around others
- Becoming preoccupied with illness
- Loss of appetite and resulting loss of weight
- Reduced desire for sex
Symptoms of Mania
The symptoms of mania can include:
- short temper
- changing from short temper to elation and back again very quickly
- being easily distracted
- not sleeping
- increase in sexual desire
- moving very quickly from topic to topic in conversation, making it very difficult for others to keep up
- speaking so quickly that it's difficult to understand all the words being said
- having very grandiose ideas
Then there's the cycle in which these sets of symptoms can occur. This can come in several varieties:
Mixed: it's entirely possible for a person to have many of the symptoms of mania and yet also suffer from severely depressive thoughts. This is especially the case if the person experiencing mania has insight into what's happening to them. Although the symptoms of mania can sound quite pleasant, for the person experiencing them it can feel as if their life is dangerously out of control.
Cycles: symptoms of mania can be followed by symptoms of depression in an almost regular pattern. These swings in mood can occur over a period of anything from days to months. Less commonly, some people may experience only depression or mania, but within a regular recurring pattern.
How Common is Bipolar Disorder?
Bipolar disorder effects between 1-2% of the UK population. If you have a relative with bipolar disorder then you have a higher chance of having it compared to someone who doesn't.