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Think Someone You Love May Be Bipolar? Here's A Breakdown of the Common Signs

Dr. Imani Walker, a psychiatrist, breaks down what to look for in a person who may be suffering from bipolar disorder.

With Kanye West’s most recent bipolar episode still dominating the news, many of you may be asking yourself, what are the signs that someone is suffering from bipolar disorder? What should I look out for? Especially if I believe they may be undiagnosed.

As part of ESSENCE’s new weekly Facebook live series Wellness Check, we asked Los Angeles-based psychiatrist and TV personality Dr. Imani Walker for a deep dive on what to know and understand about those who are suffering from bipolar disorder. Watch the full interview above, where Walker and ESSENCE Relationships and Wellness Director Charli Penn discuss symptoms, treatment and management of bipolar disorder. Below, we break list the most obvious signs that someone you know or love may be suffering from a manic state of bipolar disorder.

Signs That Someone May Be Suffering From Bipolar Disorder


“Within a manic state, a person can experience euphoria, which is like, ‘Oh my God, everything is so awesome! I feel amazing. One of my former patients told me that it’s kind of like taking a stimulant and you don’t want the high to go away. So you’re high on a stimulant without even having taken anything.”

Lack Of Sleep

“Lack of need to sleep. They can have mood swings,” says Walker. “Sometimes bipolar disorder can get so bad that somebody is laughing and crying at the same time, and that’s called Rapid Cycling Bipolar Disorder Type 1.”

Impulsive Behavior and Spending

“Impulsivity—huge symptom,” says Walker. “I had a patient once, this person went and bought a car that they couldn’t afford. Sometimes I ask my patients, ‘Have you ever spent a lot of money on stuff and then had to take it back?’ I had a patient back in the day who spent a thousand dollars on socks and someone else who actually spent $750 on, and this was a long time ago, those CDC, like the. blank CDs from back in the day.”

“So, all kinds of compulsive behaviors and what we saw on Sunday with Kanye, whether it was at the rally or when he started tweeting later on the next day, it’s like when you’re impulsive, it’s like, you’ve gotta get everything out, you’ve gotta get everything out, right? And, when most of us speak, or when we write things or text, we think about, okay, let me get my thoughts in order. So that I can figure out how I want to express myself. When people are afflicted with bipolar disorder, that doesn’t always happen. They’re like, I’ve just gotta get this out, get this out.”


“So the opposite pole of bipolar disorder is depression,” says Walker. “Depression is sometimes easier to spot than other times, but obviously the person is experiencing dysthymia, or what we know as depressed mood. The person may have issues with shame and guilt. The person may have issues with insomnia or hypersomnia. The person may also complain of a lack of energy, decreased concentration and decreased motivation. And also, any thoughts of suicidality or coming up with a plan to commit suicide. And when it gets to that point, that’s when you really need to call emergency services and have that person evaluated. Or you can always take that person to an emergency room and they can be evaluated by the doctors there.”


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