How to distinguish between ADD and bipolar disorder

The symptoms of ADD/ADHD and bipolar disorder have some similarities and overlaps.Both may include hyperactive or irritable behaviors, distraction, inattention, impulsivity, and confusion. The two are also considered to have a strong genetic link.

Both can lead to sleep disorders, poor social relationships, anxiety, depression, depression, and self-doubt. Both will significantly affect daily functions. In addition, ADHD and bipolar disorder usually occur at the same time, which makes it more difficult to distinguish them.

Recognizing the symptoms of ADHD

The main symptom of ADHD is attention deficit. The main symptom of bipolar disorder is mood disorder.

For ADHD, the symptoms of distraction and/or impulsivity, hyperactivity or irritability are always present and will be affected by the environment.Constructing a person’s environment, limiting distractions, looking for stimulating activities, using visual or auditory reminders and organizational techniques can significantly improve the functions of people with ADHD.

Recognizing the symptoms of bipolar disorder

Bipolar disorder can cause dramatic mood changes, ranging from extremely high energy levels, euphoria and grandeur to depression, despair, and extremely low minimum energy levels.

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These mood episodes are more pronounced than typical mood swings, and may alternate with periods of normal mood and function. Their occurrence is relatively independent of external influences in the environment. The cycle of highs, lows, and normal cycles may be irregular, without a clear pattern, and may last for several weeks.

People with bipolar disorder may experience four main types of emotional episodes:

  • Mania: high energy levels, excessive happiness, elated or extremely irritable and angry emotions, feelings of arrogance and conceit that may escalate into delusions and loss of contact with reality, impulsive risk-taking behaviors, reduced need for sleep, speech Speed ​​up and increase in talkativeness, distraction and/or thoughts. Manic episodes can severely affect daily functions.
  • Hypomania: A milder form of mania that may not affect the individual’s daily functions as severely as a manic episode.
  • Depression: Low energy, fatigue, feelings of sadness and hopelessness, decreased interest in life, and possibly even suicidal thoughts, loss of pleasure from things that previously brought happiness, inattention and memory difficulties, loss of appetite, sleep disturbance.
  • Mixed emotions: Meet the criteria for manic episodes and major depressive episodes almost every day for at least 1 week.
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ADHD and bipolar disorder treatment

The treatment of bipolar disorder usually involves mood stabilizing drugs, education, psychotherapy, and support.The most common drugs used to treat ADHD are stimulants.Although mood stabilizers may not affect ADHD, stimulants may exacerbate symptoms of bipolar disorder and cause episodes of mania or depression.

Individuals with ADHD respond well to the increased structure and organizational strategies in their environment, and benefit from education, psychotherapy, social skills training, counseling, and support.

In order to accurately diagnose bipolar disorder and/or ADHD, an in-depth and comprehensive evaluation is required, as the symptoms will definitely be similar.