How to Tell If Your Spouse is Bipolar

Living with a spouse and seeing them struggle between extreme mood swings is not easy. It can create a rift in your marriage because neither of you understands the intricacies of the underlying condition. Bipolar disorder is not like regular mood swings. It is intense, and the episodes last longer compared to hormone-induced mood swings.

The Uniqueness of Bipolar

A unique distinction in bipolar disorder is that it often has stable moods between episodes of mood disruptions. In a nutshell, the depressive state is characterized by utter despair. All hope is lost, and there is a cloud of misery lingering around the individual. A spouse in the depressive state may have difficulty getting out of bed or functioning in any meaningful way.

During the manic state, the individual is elated, energetic, and happy. However, their behavior is out of sync with what is considered socially acceptable. For instance, they may disrobe in public as they dance in a park or talk incessantly without exhaustion. A manic episode can last for days.

Some people cycle very rapidly through mood swings while others cycle more slowly. In addition, some people tend to be more hypomanic vs. manic during their upswing. The difference is that individuals who are hypomanic tend to have an elevated mood, but it is not as extreme as a full manic episode. 

Susceptibility to Disease

Your spouse is more likely to have a bipolar disorder if there is a history of the disorder in their family. Bipolar is generally thought to have a strong genetic component. Approximately 80% of people living with this disorder get it through familial lines.

Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder

Manic and Hypomanic Moods

Bipolar does cause two extreme mood states. Of the two states, mania is most severe. It sometimes lasts for days. It is characterized by
  • Intense energy - your spouse may get minimal rest but still function at optimum levels without any stimulant to sustain the waking state. They also become easily distracted and unusually talkative.
  • Psychomotor agitation - psychomotor refers to how mental processes affect your body’s physical movement. Agitation of the psychomotor stimulates purposeless movements. Your spouse may make repeated movements like pacing aimlessly, tap their toes, shake, fidget, or speak rapidly.
  • Irritable aggression - you may spot sudden bouts of anger or intense annoyance over small stimulus or unrelated issues.
  • Expansive mood - characterized by awkward over friendliness. It looks exaggerated and a consequence of blind devotion. Another sign includes huge unrequited friendly gestures like giving lavish gifts. Your spouse could also exhibit disinhibition where they lack control over urges. They decide and act on situations and emotions on a whim. 
  • Euphoric mood - your spouse will also exhibit extreme excitement and happiness without an external or internal stimulus. They will also have an unexplainable sense of self-confidence and well-being.
Depressive Moods

During the depressive state, your spouse may become depressed and withdrawn. They may show signs of severe stress, hopelessness, helplessness, and inactivity. They may lose interest in hobbies they enjoy and become apathetic about life. They may also experience immense guilt and become suicidal.

Behavioral Symptoms

The behavioral symptoms are a manifestation of the two extreme mood states.


Mania causes impulsivity. You will notice that your spouse is not thinking through decisions even when the implications are disadvantageous. They cannot control their spending habits, think through their life choices, or consider their safety. They are unrestrained in their liberty to act.

Sex Drive Fluctuation

When your wife is in a manic state, their sexual drive increases. Like everything in this state, their sexual urges may become excessive. Your spouse becomes hyper-sexualized. On the other hand, during the depressive state, your spouse may not desire sex. Their mood, energy, and appetite are practically non-existent.


Self-injury is another symptom that can occur in people suffering from bipolar behavior. It includes cutting, jabbing, punching, scratching, biting, and headbanging. Their impulsiveness could also result in unintended injuries. They may also become suicidal, especially during the depressive state.


Manic states induce hyperactivity due to the abnormal surge of energy in the body. Your spouse becomes uneasy, their concentration diminishes, and anxiety surges. You will notice tremors in their appendages and extreme unsettledness. Restlessness also leads to agitation and aggression.

Inactivity and Hyperactivity

During manic episodes, your spouse becomes overactive. They become relentlessly goal oriented. They make plans and execute them. However, during the depressive state, they cannot even carry out activities of daily living.

Cognitive Symptoms
  • Racing thoughts - at the onset of manic and hypomanic episodes, your spouse may get rapid repetitive thoughts.
  • Delusions- your spouse may also exhibit strong false beliefs. For instance, they may believe they have supernatural powers or are deity. Hallucinations or delusions can occur during both extreme moods.
  • Disorganized thinking - During manic episodes, your spouse’s concentration deteriorates. Thus, they cannot complete their thought process, successfully conjure an idea to completion or complete one task at a time.
Bipolar is a mood disorder that lingers between two extremes. The two extremes are opposites of each other. If your spouse is exhibiting any of these symptoms, get them help. With treatment they can learn to live a stable and productive life.

New Dimensions Can Help!

If you or someone you know is struggling with bipolar disorder or other mental health issues, New Dimensions can help. Our Intensive Outpatient Treatment Programs are located in Katy, The Woodlands, and Houston, Texas. We also offer Online Intensive Treatment Programs for anyone who resides within the State of Texas, including Dallas, San Antonio, and Austin.  To learn more about our programs, contact us at 1-800-685-9796.

12 April, 2021

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