Today is World Bipolar Day, so we’re raising awareness for another serious mental health condition, and talking about the facts and figures so you can help yourself or others around you.
Bipolar disorder has a significant impact on your mood, which can range from euphoric to depressive. The condition used to be referred to as ‘manic depression’.
In the high phase (mania or hypomania) someone with bipolar disorder can have huge amounts of energy and feel very little need for sleep. However, in the low (depressive) phase, people can feel hopeless.
The cause of bipolar disorder is not entirely known. However, biological, psychological and social factors play a role in the onset and progression of the condition.
Around 50% of people suffering with bipolar disorder have a family member with a mood disorder, such as depression. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that a family history of mental health problems can cause bipolar disorder.
Bipolar disorder can be triggered by external factors such as psychological stress and social circumstances, which can impact on neurotransmitters – or chemical messengers – in the brain.
Those with bipolar disorder may find they can link the start of an episode to a period of great stress, such as childbirth, a relationship breakdown or money problems. Some believe that bipolar disorder is linked to severe emotional disorder.
— International Bipolar Foundation (@IntlBipolar) March 30, 2018
Different Types of Bipolar Disorder
If you have experienced at least one episode of mania which has lasted longer than a week. You may also experience periods of depression. If untreated, a manic episode will generally last 3-6 months, with depressive episodes lasting 6-12 months without treatment.
If you have experienced one episode of severe depression, but have symptoms of hypomania.
If you have more than four mood swings in a 12-month period. This affects around 1 in 10 people with bipolar disorder and can happen to both type I and type II.
If you have experienced both hypomanic and depressive mood states. The mood swings aren’t as severe but can last longer. This can develop into full bipolar disorder.
It's #WorldBipolarDay. Together, let's break down the myths that persist about bipolar disorder.
— Time to Change (@TimetoChange) March 30, 2018
Symptoms of Mania and Hypomania
- Feeling happy/positive even if things aren’t going well.
- Feeling more active, energetic or restless.
- Talking very quickly, jumping from one idea to another, having racing thoughts.
- Not needing much sleep.
- Thinking you can do more than you actually can.
- Being argumentative, pushy or aggressive.
- Doing things you normally wouldn’t, which can cause problems, e.g. spending sprees, using drugs or alcohol, gambling.
- Being easily distracted and struggling to focus on one topic.
Symptoms of Depression
- Low mood.
- Having less energy, feeling tired or “slowed down”.
- Feeling hopeless or negative.
- Thoughts of death or suicide, or suicide attempts.
- Feeling restless or irritable.
- Sleeping too much, or not being able to sleep.
- Difficulty concentrating, remembering or making decisions.
If you or someone you know has experienced any of the above symptoms on more than two occasions, seek support and contact your GP. You can only be diagnosed by a psychiatrist who will do a full psychiatric assessment.