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Everyone experiences different moods, but a person with bipolar disorder experiences extreme mood swings from manic feelings of elation, high energy and hyperactivity to dark and low moods, lethargy and depression.

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Am I bipolar?

People suffering from bipolar disorder have fluctuating mood states that last weeks or even months. They may well experience long periods of depression, or indeed times when they are extremely happy or become very overactive. They may also develop delusional ideas about themselves and their strengths. 

Am I bipolar, or am I just having ups and downs? 

It is not the usual emotional ups and downs that most of us experience. Instead, the mood swings experienced by people with bipolar disorder usually last several weeks or months and are far more extreme than those lived by the majority of the population. 

What age do bipolar symptoms start at? 

People that are bipolar usually develop symptoms or experience their first “episode” between the ages of 15-25.

How many people have bipolar? 

About 2% of the population will have a bipolar episode at least once in their lives. That means that as many as 1.3 million people in the UK will have at least one episode in their lifetime.

What are the causes of bipolar disorder?

Unfortunately, no clear cause has been identified.

Research into this area suggests that people are more at risk from developing bipolar disorder if a person has: 

  • A family history of bipolar disorder.
  • Disruption in the structure and function of key emotional control networks in the brain. 
  • Been through stressful experiences such as trauma. 

How is bipolar disorder diagnosed?

Psychiatrists usually diagnose bipolar and can help with medications.

What are the treatments for bipolar disorder? 

Medication for bipolar disorder

Mood-stabilising drugs are the main type of medication used to treat the mood swings experienced by people with bipolar. 

Psychological therapies for bipolar disorder

Psychologists can be very helpful in helping support people with bipolar in either depressive episodes or between episodes. They can help them:

  • Learn more about their disorder.
  • Teach techniques to help monitor mood and thus better recognise when their mood is starting to change.
  • Improve on coping skills.
  • Provide Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), Dialectical Behavioural Therapy (DBT) and Interpersonal therapy (IPT) for depressive episodes.

If you feel you may be suffering bipolar disorder, speak to one of our psychiatrists, psychologists or psychotherapists and they will help get you the support you need.

Other helpful resources for bipolar disorder

Bipolar UK 

Bipolar UK helps inform and advocate for people with a bipolar disorder.

Bipolar disorder (NHS)

NHS advice about ways that people with bipolar disorder can manage their condition long-term.

Click here to see practitioners who specialise in bipolar disorder.