Bipolar disorder

Bipolar disorder is a condition that affects your moods, which can swing from one extreme to another. If you experience periods of time when you feel very happy or overactive and then feel very low and depressed you may be affected by bipolar disorder. These feelings can last for a few days or sometimes weeks.

Bipolar disorder is fairly common, and often affects people between 18-24, but can affect all ages. People with bipolar disorder do not experience symptoms all the time. For certain periods of time you can feel well, then at other times you may experience extreme mood swings.

Some symptoms of bipolar disorder include:

During manic periods:

  • feeling irritable
  • talking quickly and a lot
  • racing thoughts
  • feeling very confident
  • being very active
  • finding it difficult to concentrate.

During depressive periods:

  • feeling low
  • less energy
  • not sleeping or not sleeping well
  • not feeling like eating
  • feeling worthless
  • thoughts of suicide.

If you have some or even all of these symptoms it does not mean you have bipolar disorder, but if you are worried you should talk to someone you trust as they can support you with getting help. If you go to your GP they can help to work out if you have bipolar disorder and talk to you about how you are feeling even if you do not have the disorder. For advice about talking to someone about your mental health, see our section on Getting the Support You Need.

Sometimes a GP might advise that you are referred to CAMHS. This will give you the chance to speak to a specialist doctor who will be able to help you with how you are feeling and managing the condition.

How can bipolar disorder be treated?

There are several options for treating bipolar that can help someone with bipolar disorder live life as normally as possible. The following treatment options are available:

  • Medication such as mood stabilisers
  • Talking therapies such as CBT which can help you recognise the triggers and signs
  • Regular exercise and changes to diet
  • Setting goals to get a sense of achievement.

It’s thought using a combination of different treatment methods is the best way to control bipolar disorder.

More information

You can find more helpful information about bipolar disorder on the following websites:

Young Minds - information and advice about bipolar disorder

NHS information about bipolar disorder