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Information about bipolar disorders

What are the first signs?

bildIn 60% to 70% of persons afflicted commences the bipolar mood disorder with a depressive episode and accordingly in 20% to 30% with a manic episode. However, many persons afflicted, long before they suffer from clear symptoms of a depression or a mania, describe a phase in which in retrospect they have already felt “different” and “altered”. One refers to the symptoms occurring in this phase as early warning symptoms.

Listed below are early warning symptoms which have been described by many persons afflicted in the formation phase of a depression or mania. Take some time to read through these early warning symptoms and form an opinion on whether possibly some of these apply to you.

If yes, you can click here on a questionnaire, which is intended to help you obtain more clarity whether the early warning systems observed are possibly caused by an incipient bipolar disorder. However, simply filling in the questionnaire does not spare you from a visit to your doctor if you suspect that you have observed the early warning symptoms! The questionnaire should only be seen as an orientation and does not replace the detailed discussion with a doctor or psychologist.

Early warning symptom of a depression

  • Tiredness, feeling of exhaustion, lack of energy
  • Depressed mood, depressiveness
  • Increased need for rest
  • Reduced self-confidence, self-doubt
  • Increased brooding and worrying
  • Lack of interest, listlessness
  • Sleep disorders
  • Neglect of everyday obligations
  • Concentration difficulties (thinking is difficult)
  • Reduced sexual interest
  • Anxiousness, nervousness
  • Decreased ability to take stress, decrease in efficiency and productivity
  • Relating everything to oneself, have the feeling that others are talking badly about one
  • Changes in the everyday routine
  • Physical malaise
  • Decreased alcohol consumption
  • Stress, restlessness
  • Irritability

Early warning symptom of a mania

  • Elation, euphoria
  • New ideas, racing thoughts
  • Greater need to talk
  • Increased activity and energy
  • Altered perception (sensitivity to noise, sharper perception, feeling of being in another world)
  • Increased creativity
  • Decreased sleep requirement
  • Greater willingness to make contacts
  • The feeling of being important or at the centre of interest
  • increased alcohol / drug consumption
  • Increased self-confidence, the feeling of being able to manage everything that one intends to carry out
  • Irritability, strain, impatience
  • Increased sexual interest
  • Increased spending of money
  • Concentration difficulties, distractibility
  • Agitation, restlessness
  • More conflicts than usual
  • Failure to conform to everyday routine

Besides the early warning symptoms, the so-called soft bipolar signs must also be considered. By soft bipolar signs one understands characteristic features that can be found in the family history of a patient or in his / her own aetiopathology and which indicate that this might concern a bipolar disorder.

  • A family history of bipolar mood disorders
  • Successful therapy of first-degree relatives (parents, siblings) with lithium
  • Affective disorders in three consecutive generations of a family
  • Hypomanias triggered by a therapy with antidepressants
  • Prominent symptoms in the temperament (great mood swings, slight irritability, hyperactivity or constant depression)
  • Depressions, dependent on the seasons
  • Depressions with psychotic features occurring in childhood or in the teenager years.
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