Bipolar disorders, or 'manic depression', are
a group of mental illnesses involving extreme mood swings.
People with bipolar disorder will experience periods of depression as well as mania, feelings of
extreme high. Many people will also have long periods of feeling
The condition can be triggered by stressful events, such as work
or family pressures. There is some evidence suggesting a genetic
link to the disorder.
Periods of depression are similar to other kinds of depression,
where people experience low mood and lack of energy. Some people
will have suicidal thoughts. Around a third of people with bipolar
disorder harm themselves or attempt suicide at some point.
The extreme high of mania can make people feel 'wired'. Their
mind will race, they may talk quickly, and have difficulty with
sleeping. Some people behave impulsively during these periods. In
some cases, people may believe that they have special
Around one percent of adults will have episodes of bipolar
disorder at some point in their lives. It can be difficult to
diagnose, so treatment is often delayed.
Treatments can include medication as well as talking therapies
and self-management, such as keeping a mood diary. Many people with
bipolar are able to manage their condition and live fulfilling
and productive lives.
You can find out more about the definition of bipolar disorder
from the Royal College of Psychiatrists.
You can find our more about self-management of bipolar disorder