3 mins

What You May Not Know About Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder (formerly known as manic-depressive disorder) affects some 60 million people worldwide, so there’s a good chance that you or someone you know is affected by it. But despite bipolar disorder being so common, it remains misunderstood by many of us.

Bipolar disorder is characterised by alternating periods of mania (“highs”) and depression (“lows”). These differ in intensity from normal mood swings, and this intensity is often the first indicator that something is wrong. While the average age of onset is 25, misdiagnosis is extremely common in sufferers. This is largely due to people seeking help for depressive symptoms and not mentioning manic symptoms, since mania generally doesn’t feel bad.

Bipolar mania is a period of extreme highs. During a manic episode, a person may be restless, agitated, and extremely energetic. They may talk faster than normal, switching topics frequently, and be very self-assured. Also, they can often go days with very little sleep and not experience fatigue.

Bipolar depression is at the opposite end of the spectrum. This depression can last weeks or months in some cases, and is characterised by changes in sleep patterns (insomnia or extreme fatigue), lack of motivation, extreme emptiness, and thoughts (or actions) of self-harm or suicide.

Bipolar disorder can be broken down into two principle categories: bipolar I and bipolar II:

  • Bipolar I – This type of bipolar disorder is considered the most severe, and is characterised by at least one manic episode and one depressive episode. The episodes vary in length from a period of at least one week to several months.
  • Bipolar II – Bipolar II is indicated by at least one depressive episode and episodes of hypomania. Hypomania is a less severe type of mania but is still serious enough to   impact everyday life.

The main known cause of bipolar disorder is genetics. People who have at least one parent with bipolar disorder are about 10-15% more likely to develop the disorder themselves, and that chance jumps to 30-40% if both parents suffer from bipolar disorder.  Studies of twins show strong evidence that genetics play a big part in the development of bipolar disorder.

Treatment for bipolar disorder consists of medication, such as mood stabilisers, and psychological therapy, specifically cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). With consistent treatment, bipolar sufferers often see some improvement in symptoms, sometimes even a couple of months after beginning medication.

Bipolar disorder is a very serious illness that affects so many people globally. We owe it to our friends, our families, and ourselves to educate each other on this disorder and to do what we can to help sufferers.

If you or someone you know is seeking information on bipolar disorder, contact our private London psychology clinic here.

Dr Elena Touroni

Dr Elena Touroni

12 May 2017

"Dr. Elena Touroni is a skilled and experienced Consultant Psychologist with a track record of delivering high-quality services for individuals with all common emotional difficulties and those with a diagnosis of personality disorder. She is experienced in service design and delivery, the management of multi-disciplinary teams, organisational consultancy, and development and delivery of both national and bespoke training to providers in the statutory and non-statutory sector."

You may like these...

1 min

What is a binge eating disorder?

1 min

When should someone seek treatment for depression?

2 mins

Do personality disorders run through families?

1 min

What are the long term implications of ADHD?

Start your journey

Today

Dr Elena Touroni

Dr. Elena Touroni is a skilled and experienced Consultant Psychologist with a track record of delivering high-quality services for individuals with all common emotional difficulties and those with a diagnosis of personality disorder. She is experienced in service design and delivery, the management of multi-disciplinary teams, organisational consultancy, and development and delivery of both national and bespoke training to providers in the statutory and non-statutory sector.


Having obtained a first degree in Psychology (BSc) at the American College of Greece, she completed her doctoral training at the University of Surrey. Dr. Touroni is highly experienced in the assessment and treatment of depression, anxiety, substance misuse, personality disorder, eating disorders, obsessive compulsive disorder, adjustment disorder and relationship difficulties. She works with both individuals and couples and can offer therapy in English and Greek.


Dr. Touroni has held a variety of clinical and managerial positions including as Head of Service in the NHS. Further she has held academic positions for the University of Surrey and the Institute of Mental Health lecturing on specialist postgraduate Masters and Doctorate programmes.


She is trained in several specialist therapeutic approaches such as schema therapy, dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT), cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), mindfulness-based approaches and Cognitive Analytic Therapy (CAT). As well as holding a variety of NHS positions, Dr. Touroni is the co-founder of a private practice in Central London that has been a provider of psychological therapy for all common emotional difficulties including personality disorder since 2002. She is the founder and one of two directors of The Chelsea Psychology Clinic.