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My ex girlfriend, I'm still close with her, she seems to have these really manic moments where she does crazy things, and then also has these moments where she's really down and can't do anything. It's one of the reasons we broke up honestly but I still care for her and right now I am worried that she might actually have bipolar depression. 

She contacted me last night she got into another religious group, which often seems to be the way with her, and was acting totally weird. I honestly think she should be hospitalized right now. 

What can you tell me about bipolar depression and how to recognize the warning signs?

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I'm no expert but as far as I understand Bipolar disorder, it's possible to try to tell it apart from plain old depression by recognising the extreme mood swings, the extreme ups and downs, which aren't present in just depression 'cause those people are down all the time. Bipolar people are also prone to angry outbursts and highly impulsive behaviour, which isn't the case which regular depression... So yeah, 'cause you don't say what you mean by your ex GF's "crazy" behaviour it's pretty much impossible for us to help you judge... and loads of people who aren't Bipolar get drawn in by cults etc as well. 

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The most obvious sign of bipolar depression is mood swings. They go from being manic to severely depressed and will have normal moods between that as well.

Of course, everyone can be extremely happy to the point of displaying signs of mania if, say, they've just proposed to their girlfriend and she said yes, but then they lose their job!!!

People with bipolar depression will have the same mood swings for long periods of time, so over weeks, months, years... to the point that you come to think of them as just a part of that person's personality. This is perhaps the easiest way to recognize bipolar. 

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The crazy things she's done during what could be manic episodes, well, she gets really adventurous, standing up in a bar and making a speech, trying to get onto private property to see the view from the top floor, pulling fire alarms, getting a tattoo that normally totally wouldn't be her style, calling people at 4 am (usually me) talking about strange theories. That about sums it up.

Mood swings, oh yes! Very much so.

Do you think this is bipolar?
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Yes, sounds like iit. I know someone with bipolar disorder and it's almost funny, if it weren't so serious, how much they all have in common. At the same time, though it's great we have this resource (the world wide web) to help us get an idea of what is wrong with ourselves and other people before anyone sees a doctor, you can never really be sure that you have found the right label even if all the symptoms seem to match. If you have looked for bipolar and that seems to match, there might be other mood disorders that also match that you just have not looked at. What your ex needs is a psychiatrist. If only you could convince her to see one!
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If she has always been like that, then yes, I would also suspect bipolar disorder. There are other causes of extreme mood swings as well however, and you may like to consider those as well. Because I don't know a lot about her since you don't give much details, I will throw everything I can think of out there:

  • Depression (not bipolar)
  • Some anxiety disorders
  • Sleep deprivation. If this is a short term problem, know that running on empty can make people act rather strangely!
  • Alcohol abuse. 
  • Premenstrual syndrome if she always has these mood swings at "that time of the month", or if she is in the right age group, even the menopause. (The menopause can also occur prematurely.)

You know more about her than we do so you will be able to rule some of these out. 

Rosie

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I am wondering the same thing but about myself.

I am sure I have depression, feeling sad, crying, unable to get out of bed, unmotivated, suicidal thoughts but with no plan on acting on them sometimes. Then I have aggressive outbursts and a temper that is literally impossible to control, hurting people I love even though I don't want to and have it in my mind that I should not be behaving this way. I have made some impulsive choices with consequences I was not able to understand at the time, then looking back I think... why??? And alcohol is definitely an issue for me that makes things worse.

I am now at a point where I don't want to go on like this any longer and I will see a therapist as soon as I find a good one. I do wonder how bipolar is diagnosed and whether that is me.
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Warning signs of bipolar disorder during manic phases:

* Feeling ecstatic or on the other hand highly irritable all the time.
* Grandiose thinking
* A lot of energy despite sleeping very little
* Lack of concentration
* Racing thinking and rapid speech
* Impulsive and reckless
* Delusional thinking

Signs of bipolar disorder during hypomanic phases:

* Fatigue, low energy
* Trouble concentrating
* Feeling low and hopeless
* Sleeping too much or too little
* Suicidal thoughts

It is really the difference between the two that alerts you to bipolar depression as opposed to just a major depressive episode.
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That's hard to say. The impulsive and grandiose aspects of what you describe do sound like bipolar, but it could also be another disorder that involves possible hallucinations, like schizoaffective disorder, or paranoid personality disorder even, or borderline personality disorder?

And that right there sums up, of course, why you need a psychologist/psychiatrist to get the right diagnosis! You can't tell just like that what someone "has". There are diagnostic tests for that.

What does seem to be clear is that there is something going on that is not quite right and that requires treatment in some form. The kindest thing you could do is suggest she gets herself checked out.
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I just wanted to mention to everyone who wants to find out more about what it's like to have bipolar depression that this documentary by Stephen Fry is really worth watching. It's called the secret life of the manic depressive and it does a great job giving you a closer look. Stephen Fry of all people is someone you always think of as cheerful, funny, intelligent, sane... but then the things he says in this documentary... it does a good job of showing you that bipolar disorder is every bit as extreme as we think of it as, but at the same time, when he's not manic it's not at all obvious that he has this. It covers the whole thing really well. 

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