What are the Most Common Symptoms of Bipolar Depression?

Bipolar disorder is a complex and long-term illness that can be incredibly disruptive to an individual and his or her family and friends. A person with this psychiatric diagnosis will experience extreme mood swings between mania and depression. During phases of mania, a person might exhibit agitation, elevated mood, grandiosity and reckless behavior, among other symptoms. When a person with the disorder enters a depressed phase, the symptoms of bipolar depression can be devastating and severe. These symptoms include changes in energy levels, physical changes, cognitive disturbances, emotional and behavioral changes and thoughts of suicide.

One of the most noticeable symptoms of bipolar depression is an acute change in a person’s energy level and activities. Friends and family members might notice that the individual appears to be lethargic or withdrawn from social interaction. The individual might be sleeping too much or too little and showing an apparent loss of interest in previously favored activities.

Some of the physical symptoms of bipolar depression might offer another warning sign. In some cases, people who are suffering from depression begin to eat markedly less and lose weight. Others begin to eat more. These individuals might seem to move more slowly than they previously did, and they might complain of physical aches and pains.


People suffering from bipolar depression often experience disturbances of cognitive functioning. They might become more easily confused or have a difficult time remembering things. They sometimes have trouble concentrating or making decisions.

An individual with bipolar disorder often experiences painful emotions and low self-esteem during the depressed phase. He or she might feel particularly sad, guilty, worthless or helpless. In some cases, a person might seem irritable or angry when interacting with family and friends. These symptoms vary from person to person, and the depression might manifest in different ways.

Another one of the common symptoms of bipolar depression is persistent thoughts of death or suicide. If an individual begins to talk about self-harming, suicide or death, this could be a sign of suicidality. Some other red flags include reckless behavior, appearing to “put affairs in order” and obtaining items such as pills or weapons. People who have bipolar depression are at a great risk of suicide. Friends and family members should pay close attention to possible warning signs.

An individual who has bipolar disorder can try to manage symptoms by following a treatment plan developed by a doctor or therapist. A doctor might recommend a combination of medication and psychotherapy. When the individual is aware of the symptoms of bipolar depression, he or she can notice the warning signs and seek extra help before the depression spirals out of control.



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