Many times the mania of bipolar disorder is misdiagnosed as other things, especially in children – such as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Sometimes it is misdiagnosed as bipolar disorder just because of the child's natural high energy.

The way to tell the difference in children is that with natural energy, they will eventually just wear down, usually by bedtime. Even with ADHD, they will wear down. However, with a manic episode, they will NOT wear down; in fact, they may go days without sleep. If this is so with your child, you will need to see a doctor for diagnosis.

When this high energy is exhibited in adults and, like the child who does not wear down, it is likely that they, too, have bipolar disorder. They may be in a manic episode of bipolar disorder and not even know it because they have been misdiagnosed as ADHD or simple high energy or 'Type A' personality.

You know, the people who call themselves 'Type A' personalities – the ones who are risk-takers, who love to go rock climbing, or gamble, or race cars, or exhibit risky sexual behavior, or work 18 hour days because they have enough energy for two people. These are symptoms of the mania associated with bipolar disorder.

I'm not saying that every person who shows the signs/symptoms of the manic behavior of someone with bipolar disorder actually has bipolar disorder, but I am also not saying that every person who shows risk taking behavior cannot be ruled out for bipolar disorder either.

If you're not sure if your loved one or child just has a lot of energy or actually does have bipolar disorder with manic features, compare the symptoms.

Symptoms of bipolar mania include the following:

  • Increased mental and physical energy and activity to hyperactivity
  • Scheduling more events in one day than they can accomplish
  • Inability to relax or sit still
  • Exaggerated optimism, heightened mood, and increased self-confidence
  • Sheer and utter happiness that nothing (not even bad news or a tragedy) could change
  • A feeling of total invincibility
  • They feel that nothing can prevent them from accomplishing any task.
  • Excessive irritability, aggressive behavior (particularly when grandiose plans are thwarted).
  • Decreased need for sleep without experiencing fatigue
  • Grandiose delusions (false ideas)
  • Inflated sense of self-importance -- imagining that they have special connections with God, political leaders, or even celebrities.
  • Racing thoughts and/or speech, and flight of ideas (ideas that abruptly change from topic to topic expressed in loud, rapid speech that becomes increasingly incoherent).
  • Impulsivity, poor judgment, and distractibility
  • Reckless or risky behavior (Driving, spending sprees, foolish business investments, gambling, video games, impulsive and/or risky sexual practices/promiscuity)
  • In the most severe cases, delusions (false beliefs) and hallucinations (seeing and hearing people/things that aren't there).