About Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar affective disorder, or manic depression as it is sometimes known, is a mental health illness thought to affect around 1 in 50 people at some point in their lives. It is a form of mental distress that affects someone's mood or behaviour.

Those affected experience mood swings from periods when they feel terribly low and depressed, and periods when they feel high and elated. They rarely may have delusions combined with loss of judgement and inhibitions. It is a cyclical, recurrent illness which can place great strain on both the individual and their family. The length of any one of these periods can vary between an hour and several weeks or longer. How often and how severe the mood swings are varies from person to person.

However, the condition can often be partly or wholly controlled by the right combination of medication, support and self-management.

The Symptoms of mania include:

  • Increased energy
  • Excessively high
  • Extreme irritability
  • Racing thoughts
  • Talking very fast
  • Little sleep needed
  • Unrealistic beliefs
  • Spending sprees
  • Increased sex drive
  • Abuse of drugs and alcohol
  • Provocative behaviour
  • Loss of Judgement
  • Some people may experience psychosis

Symptoms of a depressive episode include:

  • Lasting sad, anxious, or empty mood.
  • Feelings of hopelessness
  • Loss of interest in activities
  • Slowness of thought
  • Difficulty in making decisions and communicating with others
  • Feelings of guilt or worthlessness
  • Decreased energy
  • Sleeping too much
  • Thoughts of death and suicide
  • Some people may experience psychotic depression

For further information check out following websites & documents

The Royal College of Psychiatrists site on bipolar disorder: Readable and well researched information for the public.

Information from NHS Health Scotland: Talking about bipolar affective disorder

Information from Bipolar Scotland: Downloadable leaflets and reports.

Bipolar UK: National charity dedicated to supporting individuals with bipolar, their families and Carers. There are a number of publications available to download as PDF files.