Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder, formerly known as manic depression, is a condition that affects your moods, which can swing from one extreme to another.

People with bipolar disorder have periods or episodes of:

  • depression – feeling very low and lethargic
  • mania – feeling very high and overactive (less severe mania is known as hypomania)

Symptoms of bipolar disorder depend on which mood you’re experiencing. Unlike simple mood swings, each extreme episode of bipolar disorder can last for several weeks (or even longer), and some people may not experience a “normal” mood very often.

I, personally, is diagnosed with bipolar II, which sometimes might be considered a milder form of Bipolar as I will usually only get hypomanic episodes and not a full blown mania. Though I do consistently suffer from severe depression which I am battling most days of my life.

Bipolar will be different in each individual, which means it is a very hard disorder to diagnose and in the UK it take approximately 10 years to get a diagnosis. Often Bipolar will be misdiagnosed as Major Depression disorder, borderline personality disorder and other disorders which Bipolar share symptoms with.

The most common symptoms for bipolar are:

Depression:

  • feeling sad, hopeless or irritable most of the time
  • lacking energy
  • difficulty concentrating and remembering things
  • loss of interest in everyday activities
  • feelings of emptiness or worthlessness
  • feelings of guilt and despair
  • feeling pessimistic about everything
  • self-doubt
  • being delusional, having hallucinations and disturbed or illogical thinking
  • lack of appetite or increased appetite
  • difficulty sleeping or sleeping too much
  • waking up early
  • suicidal thoughts

Mania:

  • feeling very happy, elated or overjoyed
  • talking very quickly
  • feeling full of energy
  • feeling self-important
  • feeling full of great new ideas and having important plans
  • being easily distracted
  • being easily irritated or agitated
  • being delusional, having hallucinations and disturbed or illogical thinking
  • not feeling like sleeping
  • not eating
  • doing things that often have disastrous consequences – such as spending large sums of money on expensive and sometimes unaffordable items
  • making decisions or saying things that are out of character and that others see as being risky or harmful

Mania and Depression can come in cycles of varied length and the patterns may not always be black or white. A person can experience a mixed state where symptoms for both Mania and Depression occur at the same time. There is also rapid cycling where a person with bipolar disorder repeatedly swings from a high to low phase quickly without having a “normal” period in between.

If you suspect that you might have this condition, it is important to see a health professional who can help you. The first step will be to discuss the condition with your GP who may refer your to a psychiatrist or other specialist health professional.