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Explains what bipolar disorder is, what kinds of treatment are available, and how you can help yourself cope. Also provides guidance on what friends and family can do to help.
Bipolar disorder is a mental health problem that mainly affects your mood. If you have bipolar disorder, you are likely to have times where you experience:
You might hear these different experiences referred to as mood states, and you can read more about them in our page on bipolar moods and symptoms.
Everyone has variations in their mood, but in bipolar disorder these changes can be very distressing and have a big impact on your life. You may feel that your high and low moods are extreme, and that swings in your mood are overwhelming.
Depending on the way you experience these mood states, and how severely they affect you, your doctor may diagnose you with a particular type of bipolar disorder.
"It's an emotional amplifier: when my mood is high I feel far quicker, funnier, smarter and livelier than anyone; when my mood is low I take on the suffering of the whole world."
You can watch Laura, Steve and Joe talk about their experiences of living with bipolar disorder in this video.
Many people have heard of bipolar disorder, but this doesn't mean they understand the diagnosis fully. You might find that some people have misconceptions about you or have a negative or inaccurate image of bipolar disorder. This can be very upsetting, especially if someone who feels this way is a friend, colleague, family member or a health care professional.
But it's important to remember that you aren't alone, and you don't have to put up with people treating you badly.
You can read more about dealing with stigma on our page on stigma and misconceptions.
Here are some options for you to think about:
"What helps me the most is the ongoing realisation and acceptance that the way in which my bipolar disorder manifests itself, and the symptoms I display, are not personality traits or 'bad behaviour'."
This information was published in May 2018. We will revise it in 2021.
References are available on request. If you would like to reproduce any of this information, see our page on permissions and licensing.