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Bipolar disorder

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Bipolar disorder

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.

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.


Android or iOS Apps (most apps that we recommend are those suggested in the NHS Apps Library)

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

Recommended Books



Bipolar Disorder - the ultimate guide. By Sarah Owen and Amanda Saunders

"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. 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".

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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