The telltale signs of bipolar disorder are periods of manic symptoms that follow periods of depressive symptoms, notes WebMD. Manic symptoms may include a decreased need for sleep, irritability, euphoria, impulsiveness and racing thoughts. Symptoms of a depressive episode can include low self-esteem, apathy, trouble concentrating, sadness and suicidal thoughts.
On some occasions, patients with bipolar disorder have episodes during which they experience a combination of depressive and manic symptoms, states the National Institute of Mental Health. For example, a patient may find that she has significantly more energy than usual while simultaneously experiencing suicidal thoughts and feeling that her position in life is hopeless. Psychotic symptoms also sometimes appear in patients with bipolar disorder. Examples of psychotic symptoms include delusions of having super powers and seeing things that do not exist.
Patients with bipolar disorder sometimes experience a less-severe form of manic episode, which mental health professionals refer to as hypomania, as their primary symptom, states the NIMH. During a hypomanic episode, patients may feel that they are perfectly normal, despite exhibiting noticeable mood swings. Often times, people suffering form bipolar disorder find that they are very productive during hypomanic episodes and refuse to accept that they have a problem.