Page written and resources collated by Emily Wheeler, Wellbeing Practitioner
Bipolar disorder is a mental health condition that causes repeated, severe mood swings. At different times your mood can vary from excitement and elation, called mania, to depression and despair. Bipolar disorder is also known as manic depression, or sometimes bipolar affective disorder. It affects your mood and behaviour, causing extremes of emotion. These moods are different from the normal ups and downs that everyone goes through from time to time. People with Bipolar may have distinct lengths of time of feeling extremely low (depression) or times when you they feel very high (mania). Each of these periods of time would last for longer than two weeks. Sometimes people can also have mixed emotions, experiencing both low and high moods at the same time.
The symptoms of bipolar disorder usually appear for a set length of time (an episode). Each episode lasts for more than two weeks. The time an episode lasts for can vary and may be several months, but this depends on the person affected. The time from the start of one episode to the next also varies. Some people with bipolar disorder have only a few episodes during their life. Other people may have them more regularly. Between episodes of mood disturbances, you may not have any symptoms at all.
About one in 100 people get bipolar disorder at some point in their life. You’re most likely to develop bipolar disorder for the first time in your mid-teens to your mid-20s. Both men and women develop it in pretty much equal numbers.
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