The Difference between Bipolar Disorder and Normal Ups and Downs

The Difference between Bipolar Disorder and Normal Ups and Downs

Normal changes in mood are an expected and routine aspect of life. However, bipolar disorder can cause moods to swing so dramatically that they interfere with an individual’s ability to maintain relationships, jobs, and mental and physical health. If left untreated, bipolar disorder can negatively impact one’s life in numerous ways.

Learn more about how you can tell if you are suffering from a mental health condition such as bipolar disorder, or if you are experiencing the normal ups and downs of life

Bipolar Disorder Symptoms

Although they may have some common similarities, bipolar disorder and normal up and downs also have specific characteristics that can help you differentiate between the two. Included in the following are some examples of specific symptoms of bipolar disorder:

  • Seasonal changes in mood
  • Rapid cycling between moods
  • Psychosis

Some individuals suffering with bipolar disorder experience changes in mood that correspond to changes in the seasons. They can become manic or even hypomanic in the spring and/or summer and then experience depression in the fall and/or winter. For others, this can be reversed. With bipolar disorder, individuals can also experience rapid shifts in mood. This is defined as having four or more drastic mood swings within a single year.

In some people these mood swings occur much more quickly, sometimes within just hours of the previous one. Individuals experiencing severe episodes of either, mania and/or depression may end up suffering from psychosis, which is a detachment from reality.

The symptoms of psychosis may include false beliefs, also known as delusions, along with hearing and/or seeing things that are not truly there, or hallucinations.

Normal Ups and Downs

Experiencing up and downs is a normal aspect of daily life. Circumstances can occur within an instant that can change an individual’s life in the blink of an eye. Included in the following are some examples of normal ups and downs:

  • Moments of sadness
  • Lack of interest
  • Occasional mood swings

It is typical for an individual to experience moments of sadness due to a traumatic event. It is also normal for these feelings to last several weeks, but not for them to completely change an individual’s life. It is also common for an individual to sometimes experience a lack of interest in certain activities he once enjoyed.

This experience, however, should not be long-term or last several months at a time. Traumatic events can cause an individual to feel completely lost and sad for a few weeks, which could lead to occasional mood swings. However, these mood swings should not occur more than four times per year or be drastic enough to change an individual’s life or the life of others around him.