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Bipolar Disorder

What is bipolar disorder?

Bipolar disorder, previously known as manic depression, is a condition that can affect your mood, making it swing from one extreme to another. If you are suffering from bipolar disorder you will have episodes of depression during which you feel low and lethargic alternating with episodes of mania during which you feel high and overactive. Symptoms of bipolar disorder depend on which mood you experience at the time. Unlike mood swings, in bipolar disorder each mood can last for several weeks with some people not often experiencing a ‘normal’ or ordinary mood.

Symptoms of depressed phase:

  • Sadness
  • Uncontrollable crying
  • Anxiety
  • Loss of interest or enjoyment in activities
  • Withdrawal from family and friends
  • Excessive guilt
  • Suicidal thoughts and urges

Symptoms of manic phase:

  • Increased energy
  • Unusual talkativeness
  • Racing thoughts
  • Little need for sleep
  • Inflated self esteem
  • Spending sprees

There are two different types of bipolar disorder, bipolar I and bipolar II. The main difference between them is that a person with Bipolar I has manic episodes, while someone with Bipolar II has hypomanic episodes. The main difference between mania and hypomania is one of severity.

Treatment for bipolar disorder

Medication is an important aspect of the treatment of bipolar disorder. This is prescribed to prevent episodes of mania, hypomania and depression and also to treat symptoms of depression when they occur. If you need to be assessed for bipolar disorder, the first step would be to see a Consultant Psychiatrist for an assessment.

Psychological therapy is also an important part of the treatment of bipolar disorder. Cognitive behavioural therapy can help a person cope with bipolar symptoms and learn to recognise when a mood shift is about to occur. CBT can also help someone with bipolar disorder stick to a treatment plan to reduce the chances of relapse.