Bipolar disorder, formerly known as manic depression, is a condition that affects your moods, which can swing from one extreme to another.
People with bipolar disorder have periods or episodes of:
Symptoms of bipolar disorder depend on which mood you're experiencing. Unlike simple mood swings, each extreme episode of bipolar disorder can last for several weeks (or even longer), and some people may not experience a "normal" mood very often.
You may initially be diagnosed with depression before having a future manic episode (sometimes years later), after which you may be diagnosed with bipolar disorder.
During an episode of depression, you may have overwhelming feelings of worthlessness, which can potentially lead to thoughts of suicide.
If you're feeling suicidal or having severe depressive symptoms, contact your GP, care co-ordinator or local mental health emergency services as soon as possible.
If you want to talk to someone confidentially, call the Samaritans, free of charge,on 116 123. You can talk to them 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Alternatively, visit the Samaritans website or email firstname.lastname@example.org .
During a manic phase of bipolar disorder, you may feel very happy and have lots of energy, ambitious plans and ideas. You may spend large amounts of money on things you can't afford and wouldn't normally want.
Not feeling like eating or sleeping, talking quickly and becoming annoyed easily are also common characteristics of this phase.
You may feel very creative and view the manic phase of bipolar as a positive experience. However, you may also experience symptoms of psychosis, where you see or hear things that aren't there or become convinced of things that aren't true.
The high and low phases of bipolar disorder are often so extreme that they interfere with everyday life.
However, there are several options for treating bipolar disorder that can make a difference. They aim to control the effects of an episode and help someone with bipolar disorder live life as normally as possible.
The following treatment options are available:
It's thought using a combination of different treatment methods is the best way to control bipolar disorder.
Help and advice for people with a long-term condition or their carersis also availablefrom charities, support groups and associations.
This includes self-help and self-management advice, and learning to deal with the practical aspects of a long-term condition.
Find out more about living with bipolar disorder.
Bipolar disorder, like all other mental health problems, can get worse during pregnancy. However, specialist help is available if you need it.
Extreme stress, overwhelming problems and life-changing events are thought to contribute, as well as genetic and chemical factors.
Bipolar disorder is fairly common and one in every 100 adults will be diagnosed with the condition at some point in their life.
Bipolar disorder can occur at any age, although it often develops between the ages of 15 and 19 and rarely develops after 40. Men and women from all backgrounds are equally likely to develop bipolar disorder.
The pattern of mood swings in bipolar disorder varies widely between people. For example, some people only have a couple of bipolar episodes in their lifetime andare stable in between, while others have many episodes.
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.