Sometimes known as manic depression – bipolar disorder is a severe mental health condition characterised by significant mood swings including manic highs and depressive lows.
The majority of individuals with bipolar experience alternating episodes of mania and depression.
Also included in the definition of bipolar are:

  • cyclothymia, which has milder symptoms
  • hypomania, a milder form of bipolar
  • rapid cycling, where moods can alternate quickly.

Who gets bipolar and what are the symptoms?

Both men and women of any age and from any social or ethnic background can develop the illness. The symptoms can first occur and then reoccur when work, studies, family or emotional pressures are at their greatest. In women it can also be triggered by childbirth or the menopause.

The key to coping with bipolar is an early diagnosis, acceptance of the illness and adapting your lifestyle so you are in control of the symptoms as much as possible. Management of bipolar can be achieved through strategies involving medication, health care, therapy and self management

Symptoms of bipolar depression

Symptoms of hypomania and mania

Monitoring your mood with a mood diary can  help with diagnosis and ongoing management

Watch a TED ED animation by Helen M. Farrell that explains bipolar disorder