Ask The Therapist: “Do I Have Bipolar Disorder?”

In 2016, the number of people estimated to be suffering from mental health issues like depression and anxiety amounted to roughly 1.1 billion. Since then, numbers have likely continued to rise. Moreover, studies have also shown women especially on average are a) more likely to suffer from mental health issues, and b) less likely to talk about them. The taboo in Pakistan surrounding depression and anxiety disorders only serve to aggravate the individuals suffering even more. For the women who cannot seek out full time therapy, or simply need advice about their problems, we’ve enlisted the help of a trained counsellor. You sent us in your questions – here are the answers!

“How do I figure out if I have BPD or not? I strongly feel I may have it but my doctor disagrees, I feel like he fails to understand me completely. It has been four months to my break up and yet I find it very difficult to move on, it never really takes me this much time to get over someone.”

Haya’s Response:

Dear Anonymous,

To aid you in your understanding of Bipolar disorder I have cited an extensive list about what it is, its causes, its symptoms, its types and its treatments. This will help you understand yourself and figure out if you suffer from BPD.

What Is Bipolar Disorder?

Bipolar disorder, also referred to as manic depressive illness, is a neurological disorder that causes unusual shifts in mood, energy, and the ability to carry out simple day to day tasks. It causes extreme shifts in moods, ranging from extreme emotional highs (mania) and lows (depression). These extreme mood swings can affect sleep, energy, activity, judgement, behavior and the ability to think more clearly. As humans, it is natural for the cues from the environment around us to affect our mood, and oscillate with it. No one is singularly happy or sad everyday, as the day progresses our mood does too. Bipolar disorder is more than just a fleeting good or bad mood however. The cycles of bipolar disorder last for days, weeks, or months. And unlike ordinary mood swings, the mood changes of bipolar disorder are so intense that they can interfere with your job or school performance, damage your relationships, and disrupt your ability to function in daily life.

People with BPD, during a manic episode, are likely to impulsively quit their job, charge up huge amounts on credit cards, or feel rested after sleeping two hours. While on the contrary, during a depressive episode, they might be too tired to get out of bed, and full of self-loathing and hopelessness over simple mundane tasks.


The causes of bipolar disorder are not completely understood, but it often appears to be hereditary. The first manic or depressive episode of bipolar disorder usually occurs in the teenage years or early adulthood. The symptoms can be subtle and confusing; many people with bipolar disorder are overlooked or misdiagnosed—resulting in unnecessary suffering.


It’s important to learn what the symptoms look like. Recognizing the problem is the first step to feeling better and reclaiming your functionality. There are certain signs and symptoms to look out for in Bipolar disorder.

Just like most things in life, there is no ‘one size fits all’ when it comes to BPD. Bipolar disorder can look very different in different people. The symptoms vary widely in their pattern, severity, and frequency. Some people are more prone to either mania or depression, while others alternate equally between the two types of episodes. There are four types of mood episodes in bipolar disorder: mania, hypomania, depression, and mixed episodes. Each type of bipolar disorder mood episode has a unique set of symptoms attached to it.

Mania Symptoms:

  • Feeling unusually “high” and optimistic OR extremely irritable
  • Unrealistic, grandiose beliefs about one’s abilities or powers
  • Sleeping very little, but feeling extremely energetic
  • Talking so rapidly that others can’t keep up
  • Racing thoughts; jumping quickly from one idea to the next
  • Highly distracted, unable to concentrate
  • Impaired judgment and impulsiveness
  • Acting recklessly without thinking about the consequences
  • Delusions and hallucinations (in severe cases)

Symptoms of Bipolar Depression:

  • Feeling hopeless, sad, or empty
  • Irritability
  • Inability to experience pleasure
  • Fatigue or loss of energy
  • Physical and mental sluggishness
  • Appetite or weight changes.
  • Sleep problems
  • Concentration and memory problems
  • Feelings of worthlessness or guilt
  • Thoughts of death or suicide

Hypomania Symptoms:

Hypomania is a less severe form of mania. In a hypomanic state, you’ll likely feel euphoric, energetic, and productive, but will still be able to carry on with your day-to-day life without losing touch with reality. To others, it may seem as if you’re merely in an unusually good mood. However, hypomania can result in bad decisions that harm your relationships, career, and reputation. In addition, hypomania often escalates to full-blown mania or is followed by a major depressive episode.

Symptoms Of A Mixed Episode

A mixed episode of bipolar disorder features symptoms of both mania or hypomania and depression. Common signs of a mixed episode include depression combined with agitation, irritability, anxiety, insomnia, distractibility, and racing thoughts. This combination of high energy and low mood makes for a particularly high risk of suicide.

Treatment For Bipolar Disorder

If you spot the symptoms of bipolar disorder in yourself or someone else, don’t wait to get help. Ignoring the problem won’t make it go away; in fact, it will almost certainly get worse. Living with untreated bipolar disorder can lead to problems in everything from your career to your relationships to your health. But bipolar disorder is treatable, so diagnosing the problem and starting treatment in its infancy can help prevent these complications from getting worse.

If you’re reluctant to seek treatment because you like the way you feel when you’re manic, remember that the energy and euphoria come with a price. Mania and hypomania often turn destructive, hurting you and the people around you.

Bipolar disorder requires long-term treatment. Since bipolar disorder is a chronic, relapsing illness, it’s important to continue treatment even when you’re feeling better. Most people with bipolar disorder need medication to prevent new episodes and stay symptom-free.

There is more to treatment than medication:

Medication alone is usually not enough to fully control the symptoms of bipolar disorder. The most effective treatment strategy for Bipolar disorder involves a combination of medication, therapy, lifestyle changes, and social support.

It’s best to work with an experienced psychiatrist

Bipolar disorder is a complex condition. Diagnosis can be tricky and treatment is often difficult. For safety reasons, medication should be closely monitored. A psychiatrist who is skilled in Bipolar disorder treatment can help you navigate these twists and turns.

The keys to bipolar disorder self-help

  • Get educated. Learn as much as you can about bipolar disorder. The more you know, the better you’ll be at assisting your own recovery.
  • Get moving. Exercise has a beneficial impact on mood and may reduce the number of bipolar episodes you experience. Aerobic exercise that activates arm and leg movement such as running, walking, swimming, dancing, climbing or drumming may be especially beneficial to your brain and nervous system.
  • Keep stress in check. Avoid high-stress situations, maintain a healthy work-life balance, and try relaxation techniques such as meditation, yoga, or deep breathing.
  • Seek support. It’s important to have people you can turn to for help and encouragement. Try joining a support group or talking to a trusted friend. Reaching out is not a sign of weakness and it won’t mean you’re a burden to others. In fact, most friends will be flattered that you trust them enough to confide in them, and it will only strengthen your relationship.
  • Make healthy choices. Healthy sleeping and eating habits can help stabilize your moods. Keeping a regular sleep schedule is particularly important.
  • Monitor your moods. Keep track of your symptoms and watch for signs that your moods are swinging out of control so you can stop the problem before it starts.

Hope this helps you in understanding Bipolar disorder and yourself better!

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