Bipolar or Some Other Mood Disorder?

By Daniel J. Tomasulo, PhD, TEP, MFA, MAPP

I’ve been experiencing symptoms that align with bipolar but could also align with a number of other mood disorders. I’m not looking for a conclusive diagnosis, more a probability of a diagnosis. Here’s a list of symptoms to help you answer this question.
Periods of high volumes of energy lasting 2+ weeks
Sometimes have high energy but feel very low
Hypersexual when in high energy periods
Sometimes always want to eat, other times not at all
Want to do nothing but sleep sometimes
Have trouble sleeping sometimes
Can sleep 5 hours or less and not feel tired sometimes
Want to drink my body weight sometimes but never allow myself to
Trouble concentrating during times of high energy
Multiple projects started and remain unfinished
Racing thoughts and speech sometimes
Highly productive when I have lots of energy
Feel hopeless, lack confidence and like nothing matters when in “low” periods
Have days where I’m not particularly “high” or “low”
Feel guilty about nothing on “low” days

I don’t get these high and low periods all the time, mostly I’m just pretty neutral in mood and irritability. The past 2 weeks I’ve been unable to sleep until at least 3am and needed to be up at 8am most days. I’ve been like this since 15 but my parents always put it down to hormones. It can’t possibly just be hormones can it?

A: I can see why you come to the conclusion that these are symptoms of bipolar disorder. But you’re also right that they may be indicative of other conditions. (Such as some aspects of Seasonal Affect Disorder.) Rather than guess I would highly recommend an appointment with a psychiatrist who can determine through questioning the best identification of these symptoms.

While the fluctuation in hormones could account for some of these features it seems doubtful that they could account for all of them. A qualified psychiatrist would be able to answer these questions more definitively.

Wishing you patience and peace,
Dr. Dan
Proof Positive Blog @ PsychCentral

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 23 Aug 2014

APA Reference
Tomasulo, D. (2014). Bipolar or Some Other Mood Disorder?. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 23, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2014/08/23/bipolar-or-some-other-mood-disorder/