Do you need urgent help?

If you need to speak to someone right now, here are some confidential options which provide 24/7 support.  If you're worried you might hurt yourself or someone else, please call 999, or go to your nearest A and E.


For people who are experiencing distress or despair.

0808 808 8000


Helps anyone under 19 in the UK with any issue they’re going through. Childline is free, confidential and available any time, day or night.

0800 1111


24 hours a day, 365 days a year. You don't have to be suicidal to call us

Understanding Bipolar Disorder

Thu, 28 - March - 2024

Understanding Bipolar Disorder


Bipolar disorder is a mental health condition characterised by extreme mood swings, ranging from intense highs to profound lows. These fluctuations can significantly impact daily life, relationships, and work, making it a challenging condition to manage.


Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder


  • Depressive Episodes

During depressive episodes, individuals may experience overwhelming sadness, hopelessness, and irritability. Energy levels drop, appetite diminishes, and interest in previously enjoyed activities wanes. Concentration becomes difficult, and feelings of worthlessness or guilt may pervade. Sleep disturbances, such as insomnia or oversleeping, are common features of depressive episodes.


  • Manic Episodes

Conversely, during manic episodes, individuals may feel a surge of energy and enthusiasm. They may exhibit inflated self-esteem, grandiose ideas, and engage in risky behaviours. Irritability, distractibility, and a decreased need for sleep are characteristic of manic episodes. Decision-making may become impulsive, leading to potentially harmful consequences.


  • Psychotic Symptoms

In severe cases, individuals may experience psychosis, characterised by hallucinations, delusions, or distorted perceptions of reality. These episodes can be distressing and disruptive, often requiring urgent medical attention.


Types and Duration of Episodes


Episodes of bipolar disorder can last for weeks or months, with periods of relative stability in between. Depending on the nature and severity of mood swings, individuals may be diagnosed with different types of bipolar disorder, each requiring tailored treatment approaches.


Causes of Bipolar Disorder


While the exact cause of bipolar disorder remains unclear, research suggests a combination of genetic, biological, and environmental factors may contribute to its development. Genetic predisposition, imbalances in brain chemistry, childhood trauma, and stressful life events are among the potential risk factors associated with bipolar disorder.


Getting Support and Treatment


  • Seeking Professional Help

Early intervention and appropriate treatment are essential for managing bipolar disorder effectively. Consulting with a healthcare professional, such as a general practitioner or psychiatrist, is the first step towards diagnosis and developing a comprehensive treatment plan.


  • Treatment Options

Treatment options may include medication to stabilise mood fluctuations, such as mood stabilisers, and psychotherapy to address underlying psychological factors. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and Interpersonal Therapy (IPT) are commonly used therapeutic approaches that can help individuals understand and manage their symptoms, improve coping strategies, and enhance interpersonal relationships.


  • Long-term Management

Long-term management of bipolar disorder involves ongoing monitoring of symptoms, identifying triggers, and implementing strategies to prevent relapse. Building a strong support network, including family, friends, and mental health professionals, can provide invaluable assistance and encouragement throughout the recovery journey.


  • Self-care Practices

In addition to professional treatment, self-care practices such as maintaining a healthy lifestyle, regular exercise, adequate sleep, and stress management techniques are essential for promoting overall well-being and reducing the impact of bipolar disorder on daily life.


 Embracing Life with Bipolar Disorder


Living with bipolar disorder can be challenging, but with the right support, treatment, and self-care strategies, individuals can lead fulfilling and meaningful lives despite the highs and lows of the condition.

You may find the following resources useful: 

Share this page