Bipolar disorder, previously known as manic depression, is a mental disorder that causes periods of depression and periods of elevated mood. The elevated mood is significant and is known as mania or hypomania, depending on its severity.
What are the signs and symptoms of bipolar disorder?
Symptoms of mania and hypomania include:
- increased energy, activity and restlessness
- extreme irritability
- racing thoughts and talking very fast
- little sleep needed
- unrealistic beliefs about one’s abilities and powers
- a lasting period of behaviour which is different from the usual
- provocative, intrusive and aggressive behaviour
- spending sprees
Symptoms of depression include:
- lasting sad, anxious or empty mood
- feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness
- decreased energy, a feeling of fatigue or of being slowed down
- difficulty concentrating, remembering, making decisions
- restlessness or irritability
- sleeping too much, or can’t sleep
- change in appetite and/or unintended weight loss or gain
- thoughts of suicide
Other symptoms can include:
- hallucinations (hearing, seeing, or otherwise sensing the presence of things that are not actually there and cannot be sensed by others)
- delusions (false, strongly held beliefs not influenced by logical reasoning or explained by a person’s usual cultural concepts)
- inability to communicate due to markedly sped up, slowed down or distorted speech (thought disorder, flight of ideas, psychomotor slowing).
There are different medications that have been found to be effective for people with bipolar disorder to manage symptoms. It’s important to discuss medication with a psychiatrist and to explore the different options that may be available, including any side effects.
Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) works best for handling specific ‘thought errors’ and behaviours. Cognitive Behaviour therapy can help them find strategies for breaking negative thought patterns.
These strategies might include the use of affirmations or substituting positive thoughts for the negative ones. CBT has also shown effectiveness for assisting people with bipolar to monitor their mood cycles and symptoms.
To access experienced psychologists who provide CBT take a look at our therapists.
Websites that might have useful information:
Bipolar UK – www.bipolaruk.org
Mind – www.mind.org.uk
Samaritans – www.samaritans.org