Bipolar Mania Symptoms

Behavior and Psychomotor Agitation

How does bipolar disorder affect a person's behavior?

There is an increase in goal oriented activities.44 In addition, the person seeks out activities that give pleasure.

Unusual aspirations are common as well as increased motivation to pursue dreams and initiate projects.

What is Psychomotor Agitation?

Psychomotor agitation refers to purposeless and restless activity. The person may need to pace around the room, even if he or she wants to rest or sit down.14

What does it feel like to experience this change in behavior?

The person may feel energetic, enthusiastic, motivated, and creative.

What does it feel like to have psychomotor agitation?

The person may feel restless and nervous.27 Increased physical energy and feelings of urgency may feel uncomfortable.

How can I recognize a change in behavior?

The person is more active in work, school, or social life. Eager to please, the employee goes the extra mile. The student meets and exceeds assignment criteria. Socially, the person may be in touch with new, present, and old friends, arranging dinner plans and social meetings.

This flurry of activity does not always result in increased productivity. In mania, distractibility is common and the person may find it difficult to 'keep things together'.

How can I recognize psychomotor agitation?

The person suffering from psychomotor agitation may pace back and forth, seem hyperactive, or move purposelessly. Wringing of the hands or pulling one's own hair is common.27

How does the change in behavior impact life?

The person is increasingly outgoing, unreserved and sociable. The bipolar mania sufferer may participate in high risk activities.1

As with all bipolar symptoms, the changed behavior affects work, school, social and personal life. Depending on the severity of mania, this change can be beneficial or hindering.

My Story

Last time I had an elevated mood, I was like a run-away train. I was having dinner with my friends, but I could not help standing up and walking around as I talked. I kept going on about how I wanted to "get out" that night and play basketball. It was late, and most of my friends were heading home - they looked at me and asked me, "What are you on?".

~ Fabian, Toronto, ON