Bipolar disorder is a mood disorder that can cause extreme periods of low (depressed) and high (manic) moods. Bipolar used to be called manic depression.

There are different types of bipolar disorder, and it can only be diagnosed by a psychiatrist.

You can find out more about the types of bipolar at Mind.

What are some of the symptoms of bipolar disorder?

There are both low (depressed) and high (manic) symptoms of bipolar disorder.

Symptoms of mania can include:

  • Feeling euphoric, excited, confident or adventurous
  • Having racing thoughts
  • Talking quickly
  • Difficulty concentrating / being easily distracted
  • Increased sex drive
  • Hearing voices or seeing things that others can’t hear
  • Misusing alcohol or drugs

Symptoms of depression can include:

  • Feeling down, hopeless, empty or upset
  • Low self-esteem, lack of confidence, feeling worthless
  • Tired, heavy, sluggish feelings
  • Lack of motivation and inability to enjoy things
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Sleeping too much / difficulty sleeping
  • Suicidal thoughts and feelings

What is it like to live with bipolar?

We all have changes in our mood over periods of time, but if you experience bipolar disorder these changes in mood can be particularly difficult and get in the way of your day-to-day life. High and low moods may be extreme and feel overwhelming.

Everyone’s experience is different, but when experiencing a period of mania people might feel more active, friendly and excited than normal, but they might also become more aggressive, behave out of character and take more risks.  During a depressive episode, people may become more withdrawn or step back from the things they’d normally enjoy. 

Lots of people with a diagnosis of bipolar have shared their experiences in our stories section.

Where can I find out more?

Visit the Mind website to find out more about bipolar, including information on diagnosis, symptoms, treatment and recovery.

You can also find information about bipolar on the Rethink Mental Illness website. 

Personal stories about bipolar

We have 150 stories on bipolar