Bipolar disorder

Mood changes are part of everyday life for us all. If you have bipolar disorder, though, you are likely to experience extreme swings, from low mood (depression) to periods of overactive behaviour (mania) – usually with more ‘normal’ phases in-between.

It is thought that around one in a hundred of us are affected by bipolar disorder. Even so, it is often misunderstood as a mental health problem. This can result in stigma and discrimination, which might make it harder for people to speak openly about what they are going through, as well as seek the help they need.

What is bipolar disorder?

"I've been brought up to never talk about mental health – if you can't see it, it doesn’t exist. This is why I think it is important to share; and as I start on my journey with bipolar, I want to write about both the positive and negative responses I have to this illness.” (Zoe) How do I tell people I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder?

Bipolar disorder (formerly known as manic depression) is a severe mood disorder. Individuals experience low moods, which might be characterised by depression, feelings of hopelessness, a lack of energy and social withdrawal. At other times, high, manic moods can bring confidence, energy and optimism, as well as a loss of inhibition.

Bipolar disorder can have a significant impact on someone’s life, but it’s important to note that many people who live with it lead productive, creative lives.

Find out more about the different types of bipolar disorder, the symptoms, treatments and tips for managing it from the NHSRethink Mental Illness and Mind websites.

Supporting someone you know

Mental health problems are common, but nearly nine in ten people who have these experiences say they face stigma and discrimination as a result. 

Being judged and isolated can be harder than the mental health problem itself. And without support from those around them, people with mental health problems can lose what they care about most: their job, their family and friends, their home.

Having someone in your corner can make all the difference. 

Do you want to find out more about bipolar disorder? Read blogs and personal stories from people who have experienced bipolar disorder. 

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