Am I Bipolar?

To meet the criteria for a Bipolar Disorder, you must have at least one Manic, Hypomanic or Mixed Episode. The signs and symptoms of these are described below.

A Manic Episode is a sudden, noticeable change in mood that is abnormally high, euphoric, or irritable, or a combination of euphoric and irritable. It must last for at least one week, or shorter if

Bipolar disorder symptoms can pull you in two directions. Photo by Cheryl Scott,

Bipolar disorder symptoms can pull you in two directions. Photo by Cheryl Scott,

Symptoms of a Manic Episode

Three or more of the following symptoms must be present frequently enough to be very noticeable, but if the mood is just irritable and not euphoric, then four of the following symptoms must be present:

  1. An exaggerated belief of one’s own importance, including delusions that one is wealthy and powerful or famous.
  2. Very little sleep.
  3. Non-stop talking.
  4. Racing thoughts.
  5. Inability to focus; an ability to be easily distracted.
  6. Increased and persistent efforts to engage people in conversation or initiate sexual encounters.
  7. Sped-up and increased movement of the body.
  8. Extreme and impulsive pursuit of pleasure which could result in serious problems, for example excessive spending, sexual indiscretions, misguided business ventures.

Other Necessary Criteria for a Manic Episode

  • There is no period of depressed or low mood during the entire Manic Episode.
  • The change in mood and its consequences are severe enough to create problems in functioning, at work or in relationships; or it requires hospitalization to prevent the person from damaging self or others; or there are “psychotic” features, meaning that the person has delusions, which can be described as fixed, false or irrational beliefs.
  • The symptoms are not due to a drug or medication or other medical treatment, or a medical condition, such as hyperthyroidism.

A Sign of Bipolar Disorder: Hypomanic Episode

A Hypomanic Episode could lead to a Bipolar Diagnosis. The criteria for a Hypomanic Episode are:

  • A period of at least four days in which the person’s mood is unusually high or irritable, and it is clearly different from the person’s usual behavior.
  • The person exhibits the same number of symptoms required for a Manic Episode, as listed under “Symptoms of a Manic Episode” above.
  • The disturbance is noticeable by others, but is not severe enough to require hospitalization or to cause harm. There are no delusions or irrational thought disturbances present.
  • The symptoms are not caused by a drug, medical treatment or medical condition.

If there is the presence or history of a Major Depressive Episode in addition to even one Hypomanic Episode, a Bipolar Disorder will probably be diagnosed, rather than Major Depressive Disorder.

Mixed Episode Symptoms

A Mixed Episode is a disturbance of mood that meets the criteria for both a Manic Episode (described above) and a Major Depressive Episode. The symptoms must be present essentially every day during a one week period. Presence of a Mixed Episode is usually enough for a Bipolar Disorder to be diagnosed.

Bipolar Diagnosis

The presence of a Mixed Episode, Hypomanic Episode or Manic Episode could lead to a Bipolar Disorder Diagnosis. Having a good psychiatrist (for medication) and a psychotherapist (for counseling) can help people cope with Bipolar Disorder.


  • The American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, (DSM-IV).


©Lisa C. DeLuca, all rights reserved.  It is a violation of copyright law to reproduce this work on the web for any reason, or in print for business use without permission from the author. This article was originally published on the web on April 4, 2009. Please contact the author with your reprint request.

This article is for general information only and is not a substitute for personal medical or mental health advice. If you are experiencing troubling symptoms please seek the advice of a medical or mental health professional in person. 

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