The Dangers of Bipolar Disorder Impulsiveness | The Ranch

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The Dangers of Bipolar Disorder Impulsiveness

January 5, 2018 Mental Health
woman holding head with anxiety and shadow of herself sitting behind her

Bipolar depression is a brain disorder characterized by unpredictable swings in mood and behavior. The bipolar depression symptoms resemble major depression with one key difference: the presence of episodes of mania or hypomania. Mania is a mood disturbance that leads to an abnormal amount of energy, talkativeness and an elevated mood. A manic episode can last as long as a week. While hypomania is very similar to mania, it is less intense and may not last as long.

People with bipolar are often misdiagnosed with clinical depression rather than bipolar-related depression. Bipolar disorder symptoms that are not part of ordinary depression include the following:

  • Talkativeness
  • Grandiosity
  • Racing thoughts
  • Distractibility
  • Decreased need for sleep
  • Impulsivity with no consideration of consequences

If you have symptoms of mania or hypomania, you may not believe that this behavior is abnormal; you may actually enjoy the feeling of increased energy. However, the manic side of bipolar disorder will eventually be followed by depressive episodes that are difficult to deal with. If you have bipolar disorder, manic episodes will eventually disrupt your life in some way and will most likely disrupt the lives of your loved ones as well.

Impulsiveness in Bipolar Disorder

Impulsiveness is one of several features of mania or hypomania related to bipolar disorder, and can cause very dangerous consequences. For example, you may spend impulsively and end up with a large amount of credit card debt that you can’t possibly pay. You may drive recklessly without thinking about the possibility of causing an accident or losing your license. You may engage in impulsive sexual behavior, which can destroy stable relationships and lead to exposure to sexually transmitted diseases. You may even attempt to manage your own impulsive behavior with substance abuse, which may lead to an additional problem with addiction.

If you have bipolar disorder, you are most likely to be bothered by your depressive symptoms, which can include lack of energy, fatigue and extreme sadness.

Recognizing that impulsiveness and other symptoms of mania or hypomania are also a problem is the first step toward getting help. Telling your doctor about your symptoms of mania will help you to obtain a correct diagnosis and determine if you have bipolar disorder rather than depression. The correct diagnosis is important because if only your depressive symptoms are treated, antidepressants may worsen your manic episodes, leading to more irritability or more reckless, impulsive behavior.

Controlling Bipolar Disorder Symptoms

Bipolar depression symptoms can be brought under control with a combination of medications and psychotherapy. Finding the right prescription medication may take several tries for you and your treating physician. Controlling impulsiveness and other forms of mania can usually be done by using a mood stabilizer or atypical antipsychotic. Antidepressants are sometimes prescribed along with these medications.

Along with medication, psychotherapy can help you to understand bipolar depression and can offer support and guidance to both you and your family. Cognitive behavior therapy is one example of a form of psychotherapy that may help to improve your symptoms.

If you have symptoms of bipolar disorder, it is important to get help. Consequences of impulsive behavior can affect your finances, personal relationships, health and self-respect. It’s very unlikely that symptoms of bipolar disorder will go way on their own so seek help to start feeling better.



“Bipolar Disorder” – National Institute of Mental Health

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