Bipolar disorder

What is it?

Bipolar disorder is a condition that affects your moods, which can swing from one extreme to another. If you experience periods of time when you feel very happy or overactive and then feel very low and depressed you may be affected by bipolar disorder. These feelings can last for a few days or sometimes weeks.

When does it happen?

Bipolar disorder is fairly common. Bipolar disorder commonly affects people between 18-24, but can affect all ages.

What does bipolar look like?

People with bipolar disorder do not experience symptoms all the time. For certain periods of time you can feel well, then at other times you may experience extreme mood swings.

Some symptoms of bipolar disorder include:

During manic periods

  • feeling irritable,
  • talking quickly and a lot,
  • racing thoughts,
  • feeling very confident,
  • being very active
  • finding it difficult to concentrate

During depressive periods

  • feeling low
  • less energy
  • not sleeping or not sleeping well
  • not feeling like eating
  • feeling worthless
  • thoughts of suicide

What can I do?

If you have some or even all of these symptoms it does not mean you have bi-polar disorder, but if you are worried you should talk to someone you trust as they can support you with getting help.

Who can help?

If you go to your GP they can help to work out if you have bipolar disorder and talk to you about how you are feeling even if you do not have the disorder

Sometimes a GP might advise that you are referred to CAMHS, the child and adolescent mental health service. This will give you the chance to speak to a specialist doctor who will be able to help you with how you are feeling and managing the condition.

How can bipolar be treated?

There are several options for treating bipolar that can help someone with bipolar disorder live life as normally as possible.

The following treatment options are available:

  • Medication such as mood stabilisers
  • Talking therapies such as CBT which can help you recognise the triggers and signs
  • Regular exercise and changes to diet
  • Setting goals to get a sense of achievement

It’s thought using a combination of different treatment methods is the best way to control bipolar disorder.

For more information on bipolar visit Young Minds or find out how you can get support from our services.

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Page last reviewed: 20 December, 2023