The Mental Health Foundation describes Bipolar disorder, also known as manic depression, as a mood disorder characterised by swings in a person’s mood from high to low – euphoric to depressed. It’s thought that Bipolar Disorder affects 1 in 100 people and although it can occur at any time, it often develops between the ages of 18-24. Although it’s not yet clear what causes the disorder, there is evidence to suggest that genetic inheritance may be important. Traumatic early life events as well environmental stressors can also contribute to the onset of the disorder.
The highs and lows of Bipolar can, in some cases, be so extreme that they impact on everyday life however there are several options for treating Bipolar Disorder:
- medication to prevent episodes of mania, hypomania (less severe mania) and depression – these are known as mood stabilisers and are taken every day often on a long-term basis
- medication to treat the acute symptoms of depression and mania when they occur
- learning to recognise the triggers and signs of an episode of depression or mania
- psychological treatment – such as talking therapy, which can help you deal with depression, and other aspects that may be problematic and trigger the mood swings, such as relationships or thinking styles
- lifestyle advice – such as doing regular exercise, planning activities you enjoy that give you a sense of achievement, learning not to overdo things, as well as advice on improving your diet and getting regular sleep.
If you or someone close to you is showing symptoms of Bipolar Disorder then in the first instance a visit to your GP is advised. A comprehensive list of GP’s in the local area can be found here.