MEEHL Foundation


Bipolar Disorder Symptoms and Characterizations

How It Looks To The Non-Bipolar

  • – Symptoms of Mania (Highs)
  • – Symptoms of Depression (Lows)
  • – Bipolar I and Bipolar II (Characterizations of Each)
  • – Mania and Depression (How These Symptoms Look to the Non-Bipolar)

Symptoms of Mania (Highs)*

  • – Increased physical and mental activity and energy
  • – Heightened mood, exaggerated optimism and self-confidence
  • – Excessive irritability, aggressive behavior
  • – Decreased need for sleep without experiencing fatigue
  • – Grandiose delusion, inflated sense of self-importance
  • – Racing speech, racing thoughts, flight of ideas
  • – Impulsiveness, poor judgment, distractibility
  • – Reckless behavior
  • – In the most severe cases, delusions and hallucinations

Symptoms of Depression (Lows)*

  • – Prolonged sadness or unexplained crying spells
  • – Significant changes in appetite and sleep patterns
  • – Irritability, anger, worry, agitation, anxiety
  • – Pessimism, indifference
  • – Loss of energy, persistent lethargy
  • – Feelings of guilt, worthlessness
  • – Inability to take pleasure in former interests, social withdrawal
  • – Unexplained aches and pains
  • – Recurring thoughts of death or suicide

Bipolar I*

  • – Bipolar I is characterized by one or more manic episodes or mixed episodes (symptoms of both a mania and a depression occurring nearly every day for at least 1 week) and one or more major depressive episodes. Most severe form.

Bipolar II*

  • – Bipolar II is characterized one or more depressive episodes accompanied by at least one hypomanic episode (similar to manic episodes but are less severe, but must be clearly different from a person’s non-depressed mood).

Mania (What Mania Looks Like to the Non-Bipolar)*

  • – Irritable, angry or raging
  • – Racing thoughts, unable to concentrate, unable to hold a thought
  • – Fast talking, or talking incessantly
  • – Spending money like a millionaire
  • – Obsessive compulsive
  • – Grandiose ideas, wanting to start a horse farm and you have never owned a horse
  • – Positive thinking (Peter Pan thinking)
  • – Indiscriminate sexual encounters
  • – Wanting sex multiple times a day with a partner
  • – Aggressive, paranoid, psychotic, delusional (last stages)

Depression (What Depression Looks Like to the Non-Bipolar)*

  • – Self-absorbed, selfish, demanding, unaware or unconcerned about the needs of others
  • – Unresponsive, uncommunicative, aloof, withdrawn
  • – Uninterested in sex and dismissive or distrusting of a partners tenderness or affection
  • – Fractious, querulous, combative, contrary; finding fault with everything
  • – Demeaning and critical of a partner
  • – Changeable and unpredictable; illogical and unreasonable
  • – Manipulative
  • – Pleasant and charming in public and the opposite at home
  • – Prone to sudden, inexplicable reference to separation or divorce
  • – Prone to workaholism or avoidance of all responsibility
  • – Increasingly dependent on alcohol and drugs, gambling, spending money
  • – Obsessively addicted to TV, computer games and computer porn sites, and other compulsive distractions

*From Depression Fallout, Anne Sheffield, Three Rivers Press, N.Y. 1998


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Debra Meehl

Debra Meehl, DD Pastoral Counselor, DBT Trained Skills Trainer, Board Certified Hypnotist & President, Meehl Foundation Intenselevly Tained DBT Team

Speaking Engagements
Texas TAAP Convention-San Antonio, TX
August 15, 2014 (11:00am-12:30am)
West Coast Symposium- Cape Cod
Bipolar Borderline & Substance Abuse
Sept, 13, 2014 (10:45am-12:15am)
NAADAC- Seattle, WA
Radical Acceptance-Getting to the root of the problem
September 28,2014 (1:30pm-3:00pm)
NASW-Texas State Conference
Bipolar Borderline & Substance Abuse
San Marcos, TX October 18, 2014 (2:30pm-4:00pm)
NASW-Atlanta, GA State Conference
Using DBT Therapy for Mood Disorders and SA October 23, 2014 (9:00am-12:15)
Radical Acceptance-getting to the root of the problem
October 24th, 2014 (1:30pm -3pm)
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