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Bipolar affective disorder is a spectrum disorder, which means the symptoms can be experienced to varying degrees and for varying durations.

There is no ‘normal’ set of symptoms or signs for someone with bipolar affective disorder.

Below are some of the most common symptoms of bipolar affective disorder.


  • Impulsive behaviour, can be high risk such as spending sprees, drug or alcohol abuse, sexual promiscuity, gambling excessively
  • Aggressive behaviour
  • Rapid Speech / talking over people
  • Increased energy, feeling wired or hyper
  • Being able to exist on very little sleep
  • Decreased appetite
  • Disorganised thoughts
  • Inflated self-esteem, believing you can do anything
  • Feeling very creative
  • Delusions:
  • Grandiose – believing you have special gifts and abilities
  • Persecutory – believing someone is after you or something really bad is about to happen
  • Hallucinations – can affect any of the senses, most commonly auditory


This is less severe than mania and can often be mistaken for simply being happy. It can be useful to think whether you, or someone you are worried about, has periods where they are:

  • Abnormally self-confident or social
  • Unusually talkative or hyper
  • Irritable or quick to anger
  • More easily distracted/having trouble concentrating
  • More involved in pleasurable activities, such as spending


With bipolar often comes depression and depressive states such as:

  • Hopelessness / sadness
  • Inability to sleep or sleeping a great deal more
  • Loss of interest in activities once enjoyed
  • Changes in appetite or weight
  • Feelings of guilt or worthlessness
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Thoughts of death or suicide
  • Tearfulness and feeling overwhelmed

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