Before you are informed about the early recognition of psychoses or bipolar disorders, we would like to explain to you what psychoses or bipolar disorders actually are and what typical symptoms occur in these disorders (see also chapter Understanding)
Psychoses can take very different forms independently of the context of life of the person afflicted. The common denominator is that reality is perceived and processed in an altered form. What can be a protective mechanism in times of great distress can develop a momentum and then itself become a problem: psychotic symptoms are for example acoustic or optical hallucinations, delusions or altered thought. Persons afflicted hear e.g. voices, feel unrealistically threatened, persecuted or controlled, make unrealistic connections between experiences and themselves, think that they can “read” the thoughts of other people or report that their thoughts are no longer as structured or ordered as they know from themselves. Frequently, their behaviour is also altered; they are no longer so efficient / productive as they once were and withdraw from friends and family.
All people know about mood swings. There are days on which one finds oneself in a depressed mood during which everything appears strenuous and the self-confidence is “dented”. In times in which for example one is in love, on the other hand one feels exhilarated and euphoric; everything is absolutely no trouble at all and takes place in an elated mood.
In bipolar or even manic-depressive disorders these mood swings go far beyond the normal extent and are independent of the life circumstances. The mood swings range from very depressive to very manic with all characteristics between these extremes. Symptoms of mania are e.g. an intensive feeling of elation and self-confidence, a clearly increased productivity, a reduced sleep requirement or even sleeplessness, invasiveness or talkativeness in contact with other people. Symptoms of depression are on the other hand an increased feeling of sadness, lack of drive, lack of interest in things that one normally finds enjoyable, a tendency to permanent brooding, and pessimistic thoughts about the future, sleep disorders, waking up early in the morning or an increased sleep requirement.
The persons afflicted feel at the mercy of their mood swings and sense these as very difficult to influence above all in the initial phase of the disorder. The repeatedly occurring manic-depressive phases often lead to considerable suffering both in the person affected him / herself as well as in the people in their environment.