Bipolar disorder is characterised by experiencing extreme moods. Learn about the signs and symptoms, the different types of bipolar disorder and what to do if you think you might have symptoms.
Bipolar disorder is when people experience serious extremes of mood, to the point where their moods interfere with their daily 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 you experience during each mood, and how quickly or slowly you move between high and low moods, is different for everyone. There are also different types of bipolar disorder.
People with bipolar disorder can experience moods that don’t necessarily make sense in the context of what’s going on around them. The moods can be very disruptive and make it difficult to function in day-to-day life.
When you’re experiencing a high or low mood with bipolar disorder, one specific mood extreme can last for weeks or even months.
Someone with bipolar disorder will experience mood changes ranging between manic and depressive episodes.
It’s also common to feel or experience:
During a manic episode, people can also become out of control, feel very anxious, and become frustrated and angry. They can become reckless without realising it, engage in dangerous behaviour and take huge risks. Mania can also cause psychotic thoughts and actions.
When experiencing a depressed episode, it’s common to feel or experience:
Bipolar disorder is caused by a combination of things, including your genes, and it can be brought on by stress, certain brain chemicals and/or your environment. However, significant use of alcohol and other drugs may trigger symptoms of the disorder or worsen existing symptoms.
People with bipolar disorder are more likely to engage in risky behaviour such as drinking heavily or taking drugs. It’s also been known for people with bipolar disorder to self-medicate and to try and regulate their extreme moods using drugs or alcohol.
There are several different types of bipolar disorder, and the type you’re diagnosed with often depends on your individual experience of mood changes, including how quickly your mood changes.
Bipolar disorder can only be diagnosed by your GP or mental health professional. Medication is usually a large part of a successful treatment plan for bipolar disorder, in conjunction with other treatments such as therapy and self-help strategies. Often a diagnosis of bipolar disorder takes time, as your moods will need to be monitored over a period of weeks or months. If you can relate to some of the signs and symptoms described above, make sure you seek help. The good news is that bipolar disorder can be managed with the right treatment and support.
Also check the related topics:Psychosis and other mental illnesses