Bipolar disorder is characterized by alternating periods of manic symptoms, such as euphoria, poor judgment, racing thoughts and high self-esteem, and depressive symptoms, such as hopelessness, suicidal thoughts or behaviors, guilt, anxiety and fatigue, explains Mayo Clinic. Seasonal mood changes and periods of psychosis may also indicate bipolar disorder.
Typical signs of bipolar disorder differ in children and adolescents, according to Mayo Clinic. Individuals in this age group do not tend to exhibit clear-cut phases of mania and depression. Instead, they may present with very rapid shifts in mood, an explosive temper, reckless behavior or aggressive behavior. It may take only a few hours or less for their moods to change completely. It is not uncommon for a child or teenager with bipolar disorder to have a long crying bout, explode with anger and then act giddy for a period of time, all within the same day.
Bipolar I disorder, bipolar II disorder and cyclothymic disorder are three subtypes of bipolar disorder, notes Mayo Clinic. Individuals with bipolar I disorder have severe mood swings that result in major problems in the workplace, at school or within their relationships. Bipolar II disorder is not as severe, and individuals can usually manage a regular routine. Bipolar II sufferers tend to have depressive periods that are longer than their manic periods. Cyclothymic disorder is an even milder manifestation of bipolar disorder.