A Person with Bipolar Disorder: An Inside Look at Their Bipolar Thought Patterns

bipolar thought process

Mental health issues are a major kind of illness that impacts 450 million people all over the world. These issues range from mild to severe, with some being easy to handle with small changes in daily life, while others need urgent and thorough care. 

Bipolar disorder is one of these conditions and it’s known for being especially challenging due to its strong effects on people and the wider community. It’s estimated that about 2.8% of people in the US have bipolar disorder. If not properly managed, bipolar disorder can lead to problems like family tensions, less work being done, and higher costs for healthcare. Understanding how people with bipolar disorder think and feel is very important. This helps families and communities live together more peacefully.

Getting to Know Bipolar Disorder

Before we dive deep into how people with bipolar disorder think and feel, we should start by knowing what bipolar disorder is. It’s a mental health condition that causes really big mood changes. These changes range from feeling super happy and full of energy (which are the high moments called manic or hypomanic episodes) to feeling very sad and low on energy (the low moments known as depressive episodes).

People going through this might have times when they’re incredibly energetic and other times when they feel extremely down. These ups and downs can mess with their sleep, how much energy they have, how they act, and even how well they can think.

The Different Types of Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder isn’t a one-size-fits-all kind of thing; it comes in different types:

  • Bipolar I Disorder: This is when someone experiences really intense mood changes, from very high mania to deep depression.
  • Bipolar II Disorder: Here, the person has lighter high moments, called hypomania, but still gets those really tough periods of depression.
  • Cyclothymic Disorder (Cyclothymia): This is a less severe form where people have mood swings, but they’re not as intense as the other types.

What Happens During These Mood Swings

In Manic or Hypomanic Episodes, someone might:

  • Feel extremely happy or full of energy
  • Be more active than usual
  • Talk really fast about lots of things
  • Feel restless or unable to relax
  • Have trouble sleeping
  • Make decisions that might not be the best, like spending too much money

In Depressive Episodes, someone might:

  • Feel very sad or hopeless
  • Lack energy or feeling tired all the time
  • Sleep too much or not enough
  • Struggle to find joy in anything
  • Think about death or suicide

Each type of bipolar disorder has its own set of issues and needs a different way to handle them. Knowing these differences helps us support people with bipolar disorder better.

The Thought Processes in Bipolar Disorder

People with bipolar disorder have thoughts that can swing from one extreme to another, depending on whether they’re going through a high (manic) or low (depressive) phase. Knowing about these thought patterns can help us understand what it’s like for them.

Thoughts During High Phases

When someone is in a manic phase, they might think:

  • “I can do anything!” They feel super confident and believe they can achieve big things easily.
  • “I have so many great ideas; I need to do all of them now.” They want to start many projects because they feel extra creative and full of energy.
  • “Why can’t everyone keep up with me?” They might get annoyed if others don’t share their enthusiasm because they’re moving at a much faster pace.
  • These thoughts happen because their brain is very active, which makes them feel extremely good and full of potential.

Thoughts During Low Phases

On the flip side, during a depressive phase, they might think:

  • “I’m no good at anything.” They feel really down on themselves and doubt their abilities.
  • “I just don’t have the energy.” Doing even small things feels too hard because they’re really tired.
  • “Nobody gets me.” They feel alone and think that others can’t understand their feelings.
  • These negative thoughts come from their brains, making them feel very low and lacking in energy or hope.

Why do these thought patterns happen?

The big changes in how someone with bipolar disorder thinks are mainly because their brain chemistry is changing a lot. During manic times, their brain is making more of the chemicals that make people feel happy and excited, so they think very highly of themselves and what they can do. But during depressive times, there’s not enough of those chemicals, which makes them feel sad and think negatively about themselves.

Do bipolar individuals recall what they said during episodes?

People with bipolar disorder usually remember what they say. However, when they’re going through really strong mood swings, things can get a bit blurry. In a manic episode, where they might feel super up and talk a lot or very quickly, they might say stuff without thinking it through. They should still remember saying these things, but how they feel about it might change once their mood levels out. If someone has a really severe episode, especially if psychosis is involved, they might have trouble remembering everything clearly.

Are they able to tell right from wrong?

When it comes to knowing right from wrong, yes, people with bipolar disorder know the difference just like anyone else. But when they are in a manic phase, they might act on impulse and make decisions that seem out of character. This doesn’t mean they forget what’s right or wrong; it’s just that their judgment can be off because of how they’re feeling at the moment. During a low phase, feeling really down can also make it hard for them to think clearly or make decisions.

Getting Help for Bipolar Disorder

If you think you or someone close to you might have bipolar disorder, it’s good to know there are plenty of ways to get help. Managing the symptoms is totally possible with the right treatment, and people can live well with the condition.


  • Mood Stabilizers: These are often the first choice for keeping mood swings under control.
  • Antipsychotics: If the mood stabilizers aren’t enough, these can help too.
  • Antidepressants: Used carefully, these can help lift a depressive episode, but they’re watched closely because they can sometimes cause a switch to a manic phase.

Talking Therapies

Changing Daily Habits

  • Keeping a Regular Schedule: Eating, sleeping, and exercising at regular times can help keep moods steady.
  • Managing Stress: Activities like meditation or gentle yoga can lower stress levels.
  • Staying Away From Triggers: Avoiding alcohol and drugs and keeping stress low can help prevent mood swings.

Joining a Group

Being part of a support group can give you tips and support from others who really understand what you’re going through.

Special Treatments

For tough cases where other treatments haven’t worked, something called Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT) might be suggested. It’s a lot safer now than in the past and it can sometimes make a big difference quickly.

The Power of Understanding and Support

Understanding bipolar disorder is not just about learning what it does to a person. It’s also about seeing the person behind the illness. The tough times they go through don’t define them. It’s really important to remember that when someone with bipolar disorder has strong emotions or thoughts, those feelings aren’t what they truly think about themselves. They’re part of the illness.

This understanding is key because it helps us be better friends, family members, or supporters. It means we can be there for them in a way that’s really helpful and caring. Instead of getting upset or frustrated, we can offer a listening ear, patience, and kindness. Recognizing that their feelings are symptoms of bipolar disorder helps us see the real person who needs our support.

By coming together with empathy and support, we don’t just help those with bipolar disorder; we grow as individuals and communities. We learn to be more compassionate and understanding, creating a world where everyone feels a bit more seen and supported, no matter what they’re going through.

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