Bipolar disorder involves both depressive periods and their opposite, which are known as elations or manic periods.
- What is Bipolar Disorder?
- Symptoms of the depressed phase
- Symptoms of the elation (mania) phase
- Understanding bipolar disorder (videos)
Bipolar disorder causes shifts in mood from a high/irritable state (elation) to a low/hopeless state (depression) and back again, typically with periods of normal moods in between. A mild to moderate level of mania is called hypomania.
Bipolar I Disorder is the classic form of the illness, with recurring episodes of elation and depression. Whereas Bipolar II Disorder is where severe elation never develops, rather milder episodes of hypomania occur instead, which alternate with depression.
Rapid-cycling bipolar disorder occurs when four or more episodes of illness occur within a 12 month period. Rapid cycling tends to develop later on in life and is more common amongst women.
It is possible to lead a healthy and productive life once the illness is effectively treated. In most cases, proper treatment can help reduce the frequency and severity of episodes and can help people with bipolar disorder maintain good quality of life.
- F eeling - sad, anxious, guilty, hopeless
- E nergy - low energy, feeling tired or fatigued
- S leeping - under or over-sleeping, waking frequently, change to your normal pattern
- T hinking - poor concentration, thinking slowed down
- I nterest - loss of interest in hobbies, family or social life, things that normally give you pleasure
- V alue - low self-esteem
- A ches and pains - e.g. chest, head or tummy pain associated with anxiety or stress
- L iving - loss of interest in living, thinking about death, suicidal thoughts
If five or more of the symptoms above are present for a period of two weeks or more, it is most likely a depressive episode and you should talk to a medical professional.
- F eeling - elated, enthusiastic, excited, angry, irritable or depressed
- E nergy - Increased energy, ‘never felt as well’, over-talkative or over-active
- S leeping - reduced need for sleep and marked difficulty in getting off to sleep
- T hinking - racing thoughts, ‘pressure in the head’, indecision, jumping from one topic to another, poor concentration
- I nterest - increased interest in pleasurable activities, new adventures, sex, alcohol, street drugs, religion, music or art muscle tension at the back of the head or round the shoulders
- V alue - high self esteem, feel they can achieve anything.
- A ches and pains - disappear
- L iving - thinking that they can live forever, taking reckless physical risks or, if angry or distressed, feeling suicidal.
If these symptoms are present, it may be a manic episode, and it is advisable to seek professional medical advice.
Dr Patrick McKeon, Consultant Psychiatrist, St. Patrick’s University Hospital provides an informative lecture about understanding bipolar disorder, the signs and symptoms, the causes, the impact on people’s lives, treatment & the skills needed for staying well.
Dr McKeon explores "Bipolar Disorder: what it is and what to do". How it can be recognised? Why a diagnosis of Bipolar disorder is sometimes missed? The purpose and type of medication prescribed to treat Bipolar disorder and lifestyle management at a practical everyday level.
Breda Dooley, Psychologist, talks about how to support a person with depression or bipolar disorder.
Dr Patrick McKeon, Consultant Psychiatrist, St. Patrick’s University Hospital discusses how you prevent relapse from bipolar disorder.
Dr Dara Cannon, BSc, HDip, Phd, discusses how brain imaging can help further research into Bipolar Disorder.
If you would like to do some further reading, please see Aware's Recommended Reading List.