Warning signs can be changes in behaviour, feelings or beliefs.
Low Energy with Negative Feelings = Low Mood / Depressive
High Energy with Negative Feelings = Anxiety
High Energy with Positive Feelings = Over activity / Hypo-mania / Mania
Low Energy with Positive Feelings = Calm
The following warning signs have been described by participants on our courses for the understanding of mood and the bipolar disorder diagnosis. These are not in any particular order. You may recognise some in yourself. Some you may not have any experience of. Some you may consider to belong in a different category. Some of these are early warning signs and others are more extreme.
1. Low Energy with Negative Feelings = Low Mood / Depressive
unhappy, not able to get back to sleep, excessive sleeping, loss of interest in things you normally like doing, hand-writing getting very small, loss of appetite, eating too much, comfort eating, gaining weight, losing weight, wishing you were not alive, wishing you had not been born, not wanting to get out of bed, thinking a lot about the past and particularly bad things that happened in the past, thinking and feeling that future is bleak, locking oneself away, not calling friends, isolating oneself, talking slower than usual, talking quieter than usual, struggle to smile, tearful, not washing/bathing due to lack of energy/enthusiasm, less bothered about personal appearance, lack of interest in life, making decisions slowly or without much thought, not weighing up options, not answering phone due to lack of energy, may make many phone calls but each call leaves a feeling of dissatisfaction due to lack of energy, feelings of hopelessness can last a long time, unresolved issues keep cropping up in your mind, feeling sad, crying, no pleasure in life, excessive sitting in front of TV although possibly not really watching it carefully or remembering what was on, sleeping a lot - yet still feeling tired, avoid arguments where ever possible, good at seeing risks and the down-side of proposals, thinking about self-harm, loss of interest in hobbies, whispering, noticing more pain - possibly not bothering to talk about aches and pains, feeling incapable, increased use of drugs, taking time off sick, fear that things are bad and will continue to be bad, not opening post, maybe not even picking post up off floor, low self-esteem, lack of motivation, sore muscles, lack of confidence, lethargy, more headache/migraines, more indigestion, confused thinking, gloomy thoughts, not able to focus on anything for long,
2. High Energy with Negative Feelings = Anxiety
unhappy, having ideas about tackling worrying issues, quicker changes from one subject to another, more thoughts/ideas than usual, feeling that your ideas are great but that people are unlikely to listen to your ideas, talking faster than usual, talking louder than usual, not sleeping, not being able to get to sleep, waking up very early, anxious feelings, irritability, everyone is out to get me, paranoia, hand-writing getting increasing illegible, a churning feeling, tearful, loss of appetite, comfort eating, suicidal thoughts, suicide attempts, find it difficult to stay still, find it difficult to stay in bed, becoming more bothered about details, checking and rechecking things (such as, 'did I lock that door?'), not listening as well as usual, forgetting things you have just been told, forgetting what you have just been doing, forgetting what you planned to do next, avoiding what you planned to do, losing weight, butterflies in tummy, not smiling much, not washing/bathing due to lack of time, excessive washing/bathing due to worries about being unclean or seen by others as unclean, taking exceptional care over personal appearance, very concerned about life, struggling with making decisions, being on the phone for long time trying to explain why things are so bad, difficult to watch TV programme that used to be interesting to you, films seem too long to watch, TV seems to be speaking to you in a worrying way, hopelessness occurs but is fleeting, screaming, pulling hair out, easily get into arguments even though worried about arguments and trying to avoid arguments, good at seeing risks and the down-side of proposals, unintentionally attracting bullies, unable to care much about others, may struggle with being alone, may need to be alone, struggling with silence, needing to have noise, demanding of others, loss of interest in hobbies, shouting/ranting, heart palpitations, noticing and talking about aches and pains, feeling unable to make much difference, short temper/snappy, stomach upsets/diarrhoea, accidentally cutting self while shaving, increased use of drugs, avoiding use of drugs due to worries over side-effects, feeling unwell but also that you have to keep going e.g. might lose job if you have a day off sick, fears of negative change, eyes opened wide, blood pressure up, sweating more, low self-esteem, going grey?, losing hair?, sore muscles, fast breathing, shallow breathing, grinding teeth, cleaning teeth too hard, lack of confidence, nausea, more headache/migraines, agitation, worsening of restless leg syndrome, quicker to anger, dry mouth, trembling, more indigestion, gloomy thoughts, muscle twitches, doing too many things at once/trying to multi-task and doing it badly,
3. High Energy with Positive Feelings = Over activity / Hypo-mania / Mania
happy, having ideas that seem simply great!, quicker changes from one subject to another, more thoughts/ideas than usual, feeling that your ideas are great and that people will be likely to listen to your ideas, talking faster than usual, talking louder than usual, talking so fast that people struggle to understand you, TV seems to be speaking to you in a way that gets you excited and motivated, butterflies in tummy, generally happy, occasionally ecstatic, handwriting deteriorating because you are writing too fast, more bold, keener to make friends, becoming erratic, able to laugh, taking exceptional care over personal appearance or taking almost no care over appearance, belief that you can make a positive contribution to many things, making many decisions, making decisions quickly, can see many options, may be obsessive, making many phone calls, feelings of great hope, lots of travel, getting an extra credit card, increased use of credit card, not sleeping - yet not feeling tired, lots of physical activity such as sport and hurrying for place to place, more sexual activity, spending more, more email and social network activity, buying unnecessary items, not so bothered about arguments as this may be seen as the way of making progress on important projects, may be seen as thinking very logically or very illogically, being over-protective, may struggle with being alone, may be seen as unprofessional, demanding of others, shouting, not noticing aches and pains that are normally seen as a problem, feeling you can make a big difference, short temper/snappy, accidentally cutting self while shaving, extra use of drugs, avoiding use of drugs if they restrict activity, a feeling of being in flow - achieving best work possible, belief that positive change is likely, fast breathing, shallow breathing, muscular tension, being picky, quicker to anger, able to focus on one task for quite some time but struggling to finish it,
4. Low Energy with Positive Feelings = Calm
happy, able to think clearer than usual, able to think about the future in a calm way, able to make plans for the future without the need to go into great detail, talking slower than usual, talking quieter than usual, handwriting is at its best, likely to smile, plenty of time to care about personal appearance, feeling that the world will be fine without you necessarily doing anything, not hurrying and sometimes arriving late due to lack of anxiety, good at weighing up options, not answering phone due to not seeing interruptions as important, plenty of hope, travel does not seem particularly important, fail to see danger, fail to see tricksters/frauds, buying things that are not essential, not so bothered about money as you feel more will appear when needed, not so bothered about email and social networking, giving money away, cannot be bothered to argue, cannot be bothered with things like campaigns and petitions, feeling that the world is generally ok, likely to be considered to be thinking logically, very happy to be alone, seen as professional, greater focus on hobbies, likely to play long lasting games/sports such as golf/chess, less bothered about aches and pains, digestive system calms down and functions at its best, belief that very little change is needed, lack of motivation, deep breathing, slower breathing, spending more time in bed, excessive time in bed,
5. Some things that might happen in extremes of any of the above
being late, feeling that you can grasp the bigger picture, believing you are knowledgeable, less interest in appearance, such as not bothered if undressed in public, not caring for finger-nails, self-harming, excessive alcohol consumption, excessive caffeine consumption, excessive chocolate eating, excessive smoking, staying in pyjamas/dressing gown all day, not turning up for appointments, house is untidy (lack of effort or over activity keeps creating mess), not looking after finances, reckless behaviour, general health deteriorates, not saying no when saying no would make sense, neglecting relationships, upsetting people, isolation, addictive behaviour, making more assumptions, not wanting sex, loss of sense of humour, increased sarcasm, self-sabotage, physical co-ordination deteriorates, not doing paper-work/not finishing jobs properly, surfing the net instead of working, making hot drinks rather than working, making excuses, not accepting responsibility, allowing fridge to be empty, failing to take a shopping list to the supermarket, using wrong tools for jobs, being awkward in meetings (devil's advocate), poor planning,