Bipolar Disorder

Find out all you need to know about bipolar disorder a mood disorder characterised by extreme moods. Learn about:

Signs this might be a problem…

  • you’re extremely moody and it’s impacting on your everyday life
  • you have poor sleeping patterns
  • sometimes you have a ridiculous amount of energy
  • at other times, you feel really low and depressed

What can I do now?

  • Try to stick to a daily routine
  • Don’t make hasty decisions
  • Track your mood so you know when to get help

What exactly is bipolar disorder?

Bipolar disorder is when people experience serious mood swings, to the point where their moods interfere with their everyday life. If you have bipolar disorder your mood is likely to go through extreme highs (known as mania or hypomania) and lows (known as depression). However, what those moods feel like and how quickly or slowly you move between high and low moods is different for everyone. As a result, several different types of bipolar disorder have been identified.

Somewhere between 1-5% of the population experience bipolar disorder and it’s caused by a combination of different things. Your genes play a big part in whether you are likely to develop bipolar disorder, but the condition can be brought on by stress, certain brain chemicals and the environment (for example, you’re more likely to get bipolar disorder in Spring). 

Back to top.

Signs and symptoms of bipolar disorder

When people have bipolar they often feel:

  • Swings between moods that can last hours or days
  • Like their mind is racing
  • Really reckless and uncaring about risks
  • Uncontrollably angry
  • Like they have an endless amount of energy.

Some physical signs of bipolar are:

  • Not needing any sleep, or needing to sleep constantly (the first often happens when you’re experiencing a high, and the second a low)
  • Having intense food cravings, usually for sweets or carbohydrates
  • Chucking huge tantrums or going into a rage
  • Working really intensely on multiple projects at the same time.

The mood swings and feelings experienced by people with bipolar disorder are different from mood swings that most people experience in everyday life. Mood swings that occur as a result of bipolar disorder are extremely disruptive and impact on a person’s ability to function day to day. 

Types of bipolar disorder

There are several different types of bipolar disorder, and the type you are diagnosed with often depends on your individual experience of mood changes, including how quickly you swing between different moods. 

  • Bipolar I. People with bipolar 1 usually experience more extreme highs (mania) that last for longer, and may experience psychotic episodes.
  • Bipolar II. People with bipolar II usually experience highs which are less extreme (called hypomania) and only last for a few hours or days. Between extreme moods, they might have times where life continues normally.
  • Cyclothymic disorder. A milder form of bipolar. Extreme moods are less severe, last for shorter periods and don’t happen as regularly.
  • Bipolar disorder otherwise not specified. Because the mood changes people experience with bipolar disorder are different for everyone, some don’t fit into the above three categories.

All types of bipolar disorder are treatable. 

Back to top.

What to do about it

If you think you may have bipolar disorder, it’s really worth visiting your GP or mental Health Practitioner for a consultation. Bipolar disorder can be hard to diagnose but it is a treatable condition and managing it will be much easier if you get professional advice. Your doctors can work with you to create a treatment plan which suits your personal circumstances and experience.

What else I might like to know

Back to top.