Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar Disorder comprises a spectrum of conditions where an individual is vulnerable to both periods of abnormally low mood and periods of abnormally  elevated mood.

What is bipolar disorder?

Usually individuals with Bipolar disorder suffer mainly with  depression. Episodes of abnormally elevated mood are typically less frequent and  less obvious and are therefore often overlooked. As a consequence most people  with a bipolar type mood disorder are often initially diagnosed with depression. This  can result in months and sometimes years of ineffective treatment with  antidepressants: which either don’t work, work only briefly or in some cases make  matters worse.  

Causes of depression

Current evidence suggests Bipolar Disorder runs in families, with individuals  inheriting genes which make them vulnerable to periods of unstable mood. It is  thought a complex interaction between these genetic risk factors and stressful life  events contributes to the development of mood problems, often in early adult life.

Symptoms of abnormally low mood include:

  • Tearfulness
  • Loss of interest in normal activities
  • Loss of enjoyment
  • Reduced self care
  • Lower than usual energy and motivation
  • Loss of concentration
  • Feelings of worthlessness, guilt or hopelessness
  • Reduced sex drive
  • Disrupted sleep
  • Altered appetite
  • Suicidal thoughts

Symptoms of abnormally elevated mood include:

  • Feeling unnaturally happy and excitable
  • Excessive confidence
  • Boundless energy and reduced need for sleep
  • Increase speed of thinking and enhanced creativity
  • Speaking unusually fast
  • Increased impulsivity, including over-spending
  • Sex drive increased beyond normal
  • Saying or doing things which are out of character
  • Appearing irritable and driven

Treatment of Bipolar Disorders

Treatment typically involves finding the right medication and depending on your  priorities can be specifically focussed on alleviating depression, preventing  episodes of elevated mood or maintaining mood stability. National guidelines  suggest treating Bipolar Depression with medicines other than antidepressants.  Consideration will also be given to appropriate lifestyle interventions, optimising  sleep, stress management and psychological interventions such as CBT.