Bipolar disorder is a mental health condition that describes a category of mood disorders. Individuals with bipolar disorder go back and forth between periods of a very good mood (mania), irritable mood and depression. These ‘mood swings’ can be very quick, but will vary in how severe or how long they last for each person. Bipolar disorder affects men and women equally and usually starts between the ages of 15 – 25.
There are two types of bipolar disorder:
- Bipolar I Disorder: characterised by at least one manic episode and periods of major depression.
- Bipolar II Disorder: characterised by experience periods of high energy levels and impulsiveness that are not as extreme as mania (called hypomania), and episodes of depression.
Mania refers to abnormally elevated mood and energy, which can sometimes be triggered by life changes, medications, lack of sleep or recreational drug use. If you have experienced mania you may remember being reckless, easily agitated, and experiencing an extreme increase in energy and self-esteem. You may have experienced racing thoughts and may have felt energised to do everything at once. You may have also been more likely to take risks and and felt you could stay awake for long periods without sleep.
The depressed phase of both types of bipolar disorder include the following symptoms:
- Daily low mood or sadness
- Difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions
- Eating problems; loss of appetite or overeating
- Lack of energy
- Feeling worthless, hopeless, or guilty
- Loss of pleasure in activities once enjoyed
- Loss of self-esteem
- Problems with sleep or excessive sleeping
- Thoughts of death and suicide
If you think you are experiencing symptoms of Bipolar Disorder, or you have previously been diagnosed and are struggling to cope, it is crucial to seek professional help. Treatment for bipolar disorder can often involve medication, however the practitioners at VCPS can assist individuals with bipolar disorder in various other ways including:
- Providing clarity around the diagnosis and education on the various treatment options
- Facilitate goal setting and formulate plans to promote a stable routine
- Engage social support networks
- Assist with identifying meaningful and pleasurable activities
- Promote positive psychology principles, including resilience, optimism and motivation