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Mental Health Awareness – Bipolar Disorder

Mental Health Awareness – Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder, used to be known as manic depression. The old name describes the disorder quite simply and aptly. People who are caught up in this mental health condition experience mood swings that include extreme emotional highs (mania or hypomania) and lows (depression).

There are two common forms of Bipolar Disorder. Bipolar 1 disorder causes mania and may cause depression, while Bipolar 2 disorder causes hypomania and depression. People with Bipolar 2 typically spend considerably more time in a depressive state.

A manic episode is normally so intense it interferes with daily activities and it is very difficult to bring the person back to a calmer state. When gripped in the manic phase people can need less sleep; become more talkative with racing thoughts; become abnormally energised and jumpy; have exaggerated sense of self, even a euphoria; make irrational decisions or engage in high-risk behaviours.

A hypomanic episode displays the same symptoms; however they show as less severe than in a manic episode. Their level though is still extreme enough for people to notice a marked change in behaviour.

The depression phase may include extended periods of sadness and hopelessness; withdrawing from people or previously enjoyed activities; feeling tired; feeling tearful; lacking in confidence and self-esteem.

Initial episodes of mania typically last at least a week followed by a depression that can be longer. If left unchecked, episodes tend to become more frequent and last longer as time passes.

The cause of bipolar disorder is unknown and it may be contributed to by a combination of physical, environmental and social factors. If you suspect that you may be suffering from this disorder your first port of call is to have discussions with you GP. If necessary, they will be able to direct you towards a mental health professional who can make a more thorough assessment. They can then inform you of treatment options that can help you maintain stable moods and on how to manage your symptoms.

Stay safe. Stay well. Seek the support you need.


Article by Michael Burnell Counselling, Yeovil

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