Am I Bipolar?

By Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

There are periods in which I’m utterly sad or depressed (I’m not quite sure when someone can be labeled as depressed) In these times I find it hard to sleep because I think of all the things that worry me. I fantasize about death a lot. And I cut myself. Then there are periods where I am unbelievably happy. I feel invincible, as if nothing could do me any harm. I become very active, I talk a lot, about the most unimportant things. I walk around a lot. My siblings get very irritated and would ask me things like “are you drunk? did you take something?” And then there are times where I feel quite normal. I feel neither depressed nor utterly happy. Am I having simple mood swings? I just need to know. Thank you.

A. I would not describe your mood swings as being “simple.” They are characteristic of bipolar disorder. It would’ve been helpful to have included how often your mood swings occur and how long they last.

It’s not abnormal to experience mild fluctuations in mood; however, your mood swings are interfering with your life. “Normal” mood swings don’t typically disrupt one’s life. People with bipolar disorder have severe mood swings that significantly interfere with their lives.

You admitted to engaging in self-harm behaviors. You also fantasize about death and at times, feel, “unbelievably happy.” Cutting is dangerous and all suicidal ideation should be taken seriously.

Diagnosing bipolar disorder, or any disorder, can be complicated and requires a thorough in-person, therapeutic evaluation. It would be advantageous for you to see a mental health professional who can evaluate your symptoms and determine what might be wrong. The mental health professional will also likely create a specific treatment plan based on your symptoms. Medication might also be recommended. Many people find that medication helps to stabilize their moods. It’s always best, when possible, to prevent the development of serious psychological problems by seeking help sooner rather than later. Please take care.

Dr. Kristina Randle
Mental Health & Criminal Justice Blog

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 1 Oct 2013

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2013). Am I Bipolar?. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 27, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2013/10/01/am-i-bipolar-4/

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