Bipolar Disorder In Women: Common Causes And Symptoms

A summary of the symptoms of bipolar disorder in women, with a description of each.

Bipolar disorder: symptoms in women

Bipolar disorder is a mental disorder that is part of the group of mood disorders.

In this article we will focus on the typical symptoms of bipolar disorder in women, how to recognize them, and the types of clinical expressions whose effects appear in both men and women.

Symptoms of bipolar disorder in women

Generally speaking, bipolar disorder is a disorder characterized by extreme changes in mood. In its classic variant, there are stages of depression and mania, that is, phases characterized by sadness and the lack of ability to feel pleasure or motivation in the first case, and phases based on frenzy, excitement and thoughts of greatness. for which the person is believed capable of doing anything.

On the other hand, the symptoms of bipolar disorder in women that are more characteristic in them are the following, although the differences between the sexes are usually quantitative and not qualitative, and in the end we will see the symptoms of this disorder that occur in both them and in them.

1. The depressive phase predominates

There does not have to be symmetry regarding the duration and intensity of the manic and depressive phases. For this reason, while in the male version the manic stage is relatively remarkable, in women the expressions of depression are somewhat more typical and frequent.

2. Pregnancy intensifies the effects

Although this does not have to be the case in all cases, it is very common for hormonal changes linked to pregnancy to intensify the symptoms of bipolar disorder in women.

3. Menstruation intensifies the effects

In a similar way to what happens with pregnancy, menstruation generates a domino effect due to the imbalance in hormonal regulation, which translates into more intense stages of mania and depressive stages in which there is even less energy, a more marked apathy, etc.

4. Increased risk of suicide

In general, women are more likely than men to attempt suicide, which is why bipolar disorder in women can be especially dangerous in that regard. Usually these attempts are not based on trying to break or cut parts of the body, but have more to do with poisoning and suffocation.

5. Greater likelihood of weight gain

Women in general have a slower metabolism than men, and therefore are more likely to accumulate body fat in a relatively short time. Due to the characteristics of the depressive stage of bipolar disorder, this sedentary lifestyle can lead women to gain weight until they reach an unhealthy situation.

6. Greater risk of eating disorders appearing

Perhaps due to the social pressure that exists regarding the need for women to look good, the hormonal and emotional imbalances typical of this disorder are more likely to lead to other psychological disorders related to eating behavior, such as anorexia or bulimia.

The types of bipolar disorder

Regarding the symptoms of bipolar disorder that occur in both men and women, they depend on the variant of bipolar disorder we are facing. Let’s see a summary.

Type I

In this variant, the manic phase is relatively intense and long-lasting, although the depressive phase also occurs. Both can last several days, and they alternate between them quickly.

Mania is characterized by generating a feeling of euphoria, the desire to do many things, and the ability to endanger oneself and others. On the other hand, psychotic symptoms, such as delusions and hallucinations, can also appear.

Type II

In this variant, what prevails is the depressive stage, characterized by apathy (lack of motivation and desire to do anything, even basic daily tasks to live well), sadness and a feeling of hopelessness, and the inability to experience pleasure ( anhedonia).


Cyclothymia is a kind of less intense bipolar disorder, in which the life of the person with it is much less at risk because the symptoms are not so extreme. It normally occurs in two phases, a hypomanic one and one with mild depressive symptoms.

Unspecified bipolar disorder

In this category, all the cases in which the symptoms do not fit with the rest of the types of bipolar disorder are included, so that there is a mixture of clinical manifestations that normally do not appear together.


The causes of this alteration are largely unknown, although it is hypothesized that it is due to a failure in the ability to regulate hormonal levels. In addition, this is due in part to genetic predispositions, since it appears more frequently in those who have relatives who present it.

Bibliographic references:

  • Cipriani, G., Danti, S., Carlesi, C., Cammisuli, DM, Di Fiorino, M. (2017). Bipolar Disorder and Cognitive Dysfunction: A Complex Link. The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease (Review). 205 (10): 743–756.
  • Newman, CF, Leahy, RL, Beck, AT and Reilly-Harrington, N. (2005). Bipolar disorder: An approach from cognitive therapy. Barcelona: Paidós Ibérica Editions.

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