Bipolar disorder is characterised by extreme mood swings. These can range from extreme highs (mania) to extreme lows (depression).
Episodes of mania and depression often last for several weeks or months.
During a period of depression, your symptoms may include:
The manic phase of bipolar disorder may include:
If you have bipolar disorder, you may have episodes of depression more regularly than episodes of mania, or vice versa.
Between episodes of depression and mania, you may sometimes have periods where you have a "normal" mood.
The patterns aren't always the same and some people may experience:
If your mood swings last a long time but aren't severe enough to be classed as bipolar disorder, you may be diagnosed with Cyclothymia (a mild form of bipolar disorder).
Bipolar disorder is a condition of extremes.A person with the condition may be unaware they're in the manic phase.
After the episode is over, they may be shocked at their behaviour. However, at the time, they may believe other people are being negative or unhelpful.
Some people with bipolar disorder have more frequent and severe episodes than others. The extreme nature of the condition means staying in a job may be difficult and relationships may become strained. There's also an increased risk of suicide.
During episodes of mania and depression, someone with bipolar disorder may experience strange sensations, such as seeing, hearing or smelling things that aren't there (hallucinations).
They may also believe things that seem irrational to other people (delusions). These types of symptoms are known as psychosis or a psychotic episode.
Bipolar disorder, previously known as manic depression, is a condition that affects your moods, which can swing from one extreme to another. The high and low phases of bipolar disorder are often so extreme that they interfere with everyday life.
Bipolar disorder is characterised by extreme mood swings. The mood swings can range from extreme highs (mania) to extreme lows (depression). Episodes of mania and depression often last for several weeks or months.
The exact cause of bipolar disorder is unknown. Experts believe there are a number of factors that work together to make a person more likely to develop the condition. These are thought to be a complex mix of physical, environmental and social factors.
If your GP thinks you may have bipolar disorder, they'll usually refer you to a psychiatrist. Depending on your symptoms, you may also need tests to see whether you have a physical problem, such as an underactive thyroid or an overactive thyroid .
Treatments aim to reduce the number and severity of the episodes of depression and mania that characterise bipolar disorder. In doing so, a person can live as normal a life as possible. However, with effective treatment, episodes usually improve within about three months.
Although it's usually a long-term condition, effective treatments for bipolar disorder, combined with self-help techniques, can limit the condition's impact on your everyday life. Maintaining a healthy weight and exercising are an important way of limiting the risk of developing diabetes.
Watch a video about Rod, who was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 1987. He describes his symptoms, the treatments offered to him and how he copes today.