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Bipolar Disorder, which was formerly known as manic depression, is a disorder that affects your moods. People with Bipolar can have extreme moods that swing from low to high or can be described as “mixed”. A mixed mood can be feeling an internal energy but lacking the motivation or concentration to utilise this. Similarly, it can be exhibiting symptoms of mania but feeling low in mood or depressed. Typically, moods don’t swing within a day with Bipolar – this is more of an EUPD “symptom”. These extremes may last for weeks at a time and many who suffer from bipolar disorder never feel at a “normal” level with their mood. The types of Bipolar are Bipolar I, Bipolar II and Cyclothymia.

Research suggests that there are a variety of potential causes that may make you more likely to develop Bipolar disorder. It can occur as a result of physical, social or environmental impacts or some combination of the three. These factors may include childhood trauma, genetic inheritance, brain chemistry and stressful life events.

The symptoms of Bipolar are a range of high and lows, for example:

  • Feeling sad or hopeless
  • Feeling irritated
  • Feelings of despair or guilt
  • Pessimistic attitude
  • Hallucinations or illogical thinking
  • Self doubt
  • Lack of sleep
  • Feeling lethargic
  • Lack of appetite
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Feeling very happy, elated
  • Extreme energy
  • Feeling self important
  • Not eating or sleeping
  • Feeling agitated
  • Doing things that are dangerous or have severe consequences such as spending large sums of money or risky behaviour
  • Lowered inhibitions
  • Lack of self awareness

A diagnosis for Bipolar is usually made by a specialist such as a psychiatrist. You will be asked about how many symptoms you have experienced, how long these symptoms last, when they were first experienced. They may also want to know your medical background and family history of health problems.

Bipolar treatment is usually a combination of treatments. These can include medication to manage the highs and lows, self care by learning to recognise the triggers and manage your reaction, psychological treatments like talking therapies and lifestyle advice, for example, making sure you eat right, exercise regularly and get in to a good sleep routine.

Should you feel like you, a friend or a family member have symptoms of Bipolar it is important to seek help from your GP so you or they can be referred and diagnosed by the correct professionals. If anybody is in immediate danger please seek help from your nearest emergency room.