Living With Bipolar Disorder

Living With Bipolar Disorder


Bipolar Disorder is a mental health condition formerly known as manic depression that causes severe mood swings.  People with bipolar will have depressive moods where they feel really low, and manic or hypomanic episodes where they feel really high.  Sometimes, but not in all cases they can suffer psychotic symptoms during their manic or depressive episodes.  This can include delusions and hallucinations which can cause them to have trouble thinking logically, be suspicious and paranoid and struggle to tell what is real and what is not.  The name bipolar comes from Bi which means two, and polar which means completely opposite.  It is a misunderstood condition and people often have negative misconceptions about it and can be prejudiced towards people who live with it, which can leave them feeling stigmatised.

Types of Bipolar

There are four types of bipolar disorder and these are:

Bipolar I disorder

This is where a person has at least one manic episode that may have been preceded or followed by a hypomanic or major depressive episode.  In some cases this can trigger psychosis where they have a break from reality.

Bipolar II disorder

A person has had at least one major depressive, and hypomanic episode but have never had a manic episode.

Cyclothymic Disorder

They have had at least 2 years of frequent periods of hypomania and depressive symptoms, but less severe than major depression, this can be one year in children or teenagers.

Rapid Cycling

Have had four or more episodes in a year, this can happen with types I and II and affects around one in ten people with bipolar.

Unlike hypomania and mania where mania is a more serious version of hypomania bipolar II is not a milder version of bipolar I.


As with many mental health conditions there is no known cause, but it is believed that things like extreme stress, life changing events or trauma, having a family member with the condition, and chemical imbalances in the brain can all contribute.  Forms of bipolar and related mental health conditions, other than the main four can be causes by certain drugs, alcohol use and medical conditions such as stroke, multiple sclerosis and Cushing’s disease.

Symptoms of Mania

  • Talking quickly, feeling full of energy, happy and full of ideas and plans and not wanting to sleep
  • Feeling irritated, easily distracted, self-important or agitated
  • Acting out of character or engaging in risky or dangerous behaviour such as overspending, driving recklessly, using alcohol, drugs or having unprotected sex
  • Thinking illogically having disturbed thoughts, hallucinations or delusions or feelings of paranoia.

Symptoms of Depression

  • Feeling sad, hopeless, empty, worthless, or full of self-doubt
  • Lacking energy and interest in everything including things you enjoy
  • Poor sleep patterns or lack of appetite, difficulty concentrating or remembering things
  • Having thoughts of suicide, or being full of guilt or despair

Diagnosis and Treatment

If you or someone you know thinks they may be suffering from bipolar you should consult your doctor who will refer you to a psychiatrist for a formal diagnosis. Around one in every fifty adults will be diagnosed with bipolar at some point in their lives, usually around the ages of 15 to 25, but rarely in people aged over 50.

Medication for bipolar can include antidepressants and mood stabilisers, you should ensure you take medication regularly and only as prescribed.  Self-management, support and maintaining a health lifestyle are all important in addition to medication.  Bipolar is a life long condition and therapy can be the best way to manage symptoms.  Therapies such as talking therapies like psychotherapy, family therapy and CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) can all be helpful.  Written by Jan, Jeana and Wendy at Barnsley Hypnosis and Counselling (UK). For more free Information click above link.