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Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder stands as a distinctive mental health condition that significantly impacts one’s emotional states, ranging from one extreme to its opposing counterpart. In the past, it was recognized by the name “manic depression.”

Individuals grappling with bipolar disorder often experience fluctuations in their moods, with episodes of depression being more frequent in some cases, while in others, episodes of mania might take precedence. Moreover, intermittent periods of relatively stable and “normal” moods can manifest between these contrasting phases of emotional intensity.

The patterns are not always the same and some people may experience:

If you or someone you know is suffering from Bipolar Disorder and you feel you need someone to talk to. Please contact our helpline on 0808 115 1505 for confidential support.

  • rapid cycling – wherein a person with bipolar disorder swiftly shifts between high and low phases.
  • mixed state – where someone with bipolar disorder endures a combination of depressive and manic symptoms, such as heightened activity coupled with a melancholic mood.



During a period of depression, your symptoms may include:

  • Experiencing a perpetual state of sorrow, despondency, or irritability.
  • Lacking energy
  • Challenges in focusing and retaining information.
  • No longer finding joy in mundane daily routines.
  • Experiencing an overwhelming sense of emptiness or insignificance.
  • Battling with feelings of guilt and hopelessness.
  • A prevailing sense of pessimism regarding everything.
  • Struggling with self-doubt and uncertainty.
  • Facing delusions, hallucinations, and disrupted thought patterns.
  • Experiencing a loss of appetite.
  • Encountering difficulties in getting restful sleep.
  • Waking up prematurely during the night.
  • Dealing with thoughts of despair and self-harm.


The manic phase of bipolar disorder may include:

  • Experiencing immense joy, euphoria, or elation
  • Speaking with rapidity and enthusiasm
  • Being infused with boundless vitality
  • Feeling self-important
  • Brimming with innovative concepts and ambitious schemes
  • Fleeting attention spans
  • Experiencing heightened irritability or restlessness
  • Experiencing distorted perceptions, hallucinations, and illogical thought patterns
  • Lacking the urge to rest or sleep
  • Indulging in impulsive behaviours with potentially disastrous outcomes, like extravagant and impractical spending
  • Engaging in actions that are unlike one’s usual character and are perceived as risky or harmful by others.

Treatment Options


Numerous medications are at your disposal to assist in stabilizing mood swings. They are commonly known as mood stabilizers and encompass: 1. Lithium carbonate 2. Anticonvulsant drugs 3. Antipsychotic medications In the case where you are already on medication for bipolar disorder and encounter feelings of depression, your GP will ensure that you are on the appropriate dosage. Should this not be the case, adjustments will be made accordingly. Treatment for depression episodes in bipolar disorder follows a slightly different approach, as relying solely on antidepressants may trigger a hypomanic relapse. Most guidelines advocate treating depression in bipolar disorder with just a mood stabilizer. However, it's not uncommon to use antidepressants in conjunction with a mood stabilizer or antipsychotic. For those instances when your GP or psychiatrist suggests discontinuing bipolar medication, the dosage should be gradually reduced over a period of at least four weeks, and up to three months if you are taking an antipsychotic or lithium. Should the need arise to discontinue lithium for any reason, make sure to consult your GP about potentially switching to an antipsychotic or valproate instead.

Psychological Treatment

Certain individuals discover that psychological intervention can be beneficial when combined with medication during periods of mania or depression. The approach may encompass: 1. Psychoeducation - A means to gain deeper insights into bipolar disorder. 2. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) - Particularly effective in addressing depression. 3. Family Therapy - Concentrating on family dynamics (such as marriage) and fostering collaborative efforts among family members to enhance mental well-being. Typically, psychological treatment comprises approximately 16 sessions, each lasting an hour and spanning six to nine months.

Discover coping strategies

Staying active and eating well

Eating well and keeping fit are important for everyone. Exercise can also help reduce the symptoms of bipolar disorder, particularly depressive symptoms. It may also give you something to focus on and provide a routine, which is important for many people. A healthy diet, combined with exercise, may also help limit weight gain, which is a common side effect of medical treatments for bipolar disorder. Some treatments also increase the risk of developing diabetes, or worsen the illness in people that already have it. Maintaining a healthy weight and exercising are an important way of limiting that risk. You should have a check-up at least once a year to monitor your risk of developing cardiovascular disease or diabetes. This will include recording your weight, checking your blood pressure and having any appropriate blood tests.