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Bipolar disorder

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Bipolar disorder

Page written and resources collated by Emily Wheeler, Senior Wellbeing Practitioner

Bipolar disorder also known as manic depression) is a mental health condition that causes repeated, severe mood swings. At different times your mood can vary from excitement, elation impulsive behaviour, grandiose thoughts and agitation called mania, to depression and despair. Depressive symptoms can include lack of energy, feeling worthless, low self-esteem and suicidal thoughts.  You can also have psychotic symptoms. Psychotic symptoms can mean that you see and hear things that feel real, but they don’t exist. Extreme fluctuations in moods are different from the normal ups and downs that everyone goes through from time to time.

There are different types of bipolar disorder, and it affects everyone differently. The main types are bipolar I disorder and bipolar II disorder. Bipolar I involves depression and mania, an extremely high mood. Bipolar II is more likely to involve depression and hypomania. Hypomania is similar to mania but less extreme.

For some people, depression is the dominant mood. Some people find they often fluctuate between high and low moods or have long periods when their moods are stable.  Sometimes people can also have mixed emotions, experiencing both low and high moods at the same time.

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. We don’t know what causes Bipolar, but it is thought to be a combination of genetic and environmental causes. Bipolar disorder is treated with medication or talking therapies.

Please note that whilst we hope that all of the resources below are useful, the Student Wellbeing Service does not endorse the opinions expressed by other parties.


Self-help materials you can print, or download and save.

Resource Description
Bipolar Disorder (NHS) Online self help materials explaining symptoms, causes, diagnosis, treatment and how to live well with this disorder
Bipolar Disorder (Rethink) Detailed information about the condition with a range of practical resources to support people living with Bipolar Disorder
Bipolar disorder leaflet (Mind) Comprehensive materials covering all aspects of Bipolar Disorder including detailed info about medication, personal stories and links to other support services for people living with bipolar as well as Carers.


App Description
eMoods Bipolar Tracker
App store
Google Play
Log you moods and links to resources online therapy, blogs, crisis hotlines, bipolar information and how to find a support group

Reading for Wellbeing

Icon of a person reading a book

Bipolar Disorder - the ultimate guide

Written in a highly accessible question-and-answer format, this comprehensive and compassionate guide draws on the latest research, a broad range of expert opinion, numerous real-life voices and personal experiences from people with bipolar disorder. With a list of useful resources, it is both the perfect first port of call and a reference bible you can refer to time and time again.

Read the book
Icon of a person reading a book

Living at the speed of light

Shining a light on mania, depression and everything in between, this no-nonsense guide to life with bipolar disorder gives advice on how to manage the condition and work towards stability. Drawing on her own experiences, Katie Conibear discusses the realities of life with bipolar and shares practical tips and advice.

Read the book

Places to get help

Local and national organisations, websites

Resource Description
Bipolar UK The leading charity in the U.K for people affected with Bipolar disorder offering Up to date information about treatment and useful links to other services
Support Groups throughout the U.K
Peer Support Line
Online eCommunity
YoungMinds - Bipolar disorder Information about bipolar disorder and what to do if you're affected by it.
YoungMinds - Mania and Hypomania  Find out more about the condition and what to do if you're affected by it.

Other Ideas

You might also want to think about

  • Stick to routines: Develop a healthy approach to exercise, diet and sleep
  • Make time for self-care: Allow space in daily life for relaxation/mindfulness/hobbiesand connecting with others
  • Understand and be aware of changes to your mood: Learning to managing stress which can trigger both manic and depressive episodes
  • Manage your money: Understand your relationship with money and the impact this can have on your mental health
  • Plan ahead for a crisis: Develop a support network of trusted professionals, friends and family who can help you in order to keep well

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