People with high-functioning bipolar disorder may seem to have a good handle on their symptoms, but that doesn’t mean their condition is easy to manage. Those suffering experience extreme fluctuations in mood, ranging from manic highs to depressive lows, and these mood swings can interfere with a person’s way of living, including their performance at work, school, and at home. Symptoms of high-functioning bipolar disorder can be difficult to catch because people with this condition are good at hiding it. Here, we’re sharing a list of common signs to look out for.
What Is High Functioning Bipolar Disorder?
Also known as bipolar affective disorder, bipolar disorder affects about 4.4% of adults in the United States, and a recent study suggests that nearly 23% of this group can be considered high-functioning.1,2 The main difference between bipolar disorder and high-functioning bipolar disorder is the person’s ability to perform under the demands of their symptoms.
This doesn’t mean that people who are not high-functioning are weak. It just means that people who are high-functioning are naturally able to manage their symptoms more effectively on their own. However, this doesn’t mean they’re affected any less by the condition.
Being considered “high-functioning” doesn’t mean you have fewer or less intense symptoms. You could have any kind of bipolar disorder and be considered high-functioning. Unlike bipolar I disorder, bipolar II disorder, and cyclothymic disorder, high-functioning bipolar disorder is not considered an actual type of bipolar disorder.
High Functioning Bipolar Disorder Symptoms & Signs
Bipolar disorder's causes and symptoms vary depending on the type, but what does high-functioning bipolar disorder look like? People with this condition often appear as if they don’t have bipolar disorder at all. This might be the result of developed strategies they use to manage their condition and hide their symptoms. Many people with mental health disorders are often embarrassed or ashamed of their symptoms and may go to great lengths to hide them.
However, the need to hide their symptoms and feelings can make the condition itself more stressful and anxiety-inducing, which could worsen symptoms. This may just create a vicious cycle of stress, hide, and repeat.
Additionally, while there are different kinds of bipolar disorder, each is marked by periods of mania or hypomania and depression. Even if you’re considered high-functioning, you might still experience these symptoms.
Common signs and symptoms of high-functioning bipolar disorder include:
- Excessive energy
- Reduced need for sleep
- Trouble sleeping
- Aggressive behavior
- Racing thoughts
- Reduced appetite
- Feeling invincible or important
- Easily distracted
- Feeling jumpy or on edge
- Low energy and fatigue
- Difficulty sleeping or sleeping too much
- Lack of focus and motivation
- Isolating from loved ones
- Feeling sad or hopeless
- Difficulty decision-making
- Thoughts or attempts of suicide or self-harm
- Slow speech
- Difficulty completing simple tasks
Signs of high-functioning bipolar disorder may also include the ability to maintain a job, remain financially stable, and complete daily responsibilities at home or with family. People who are not high-functioning often struggle in these areas, especially when they don’t receive mental health treatment for their symptoms.
While people with bipolar disorder may be prescribed medication to manage their symptoms, psychotherapy and talk therapy are also effective forms of treatment. There are many tips for coping with bipolar disorder on your own that could also help.
Treatment for Bipolar Disorder
If this list of symptoms has made you wonder, “do I have high-functioning bipolar disorder?” don’t make any assumptions. Ask an expert! You can call our Florida mental health rehab today to learn more about your condition and to schedule an appointment to speak with a specialist about your diagnosis.
Our Boca Raton rehab offers residential mental health treatment for various psychiatric disorders, including bipolar disorder, that can help you or a loved one recover. Not only do we help clients establish effective coping skills that also promote independence, but we also educate their loved ones to promote a strong support system at home.
- National Institute of Mental Health – Bipolar Disorder
- The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease - Predictors of High Psychosocial Functioning in Bipolar Disorder