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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.
This page provides information on:
Going through any of these experiences can be extremely difficult to cope with, so it's worth thinking about how you can look after yourself, and what kind of treatment could help. It's also worth planning ahead for a crisis.
Mania can last for a week or more and has a severe negative impact on your ability to do your usual day-to-day activities – often disrupting or stopping these completely. Severe mania is very serious and often needs to be treated in hospital.
Here are some things you might experience during a manic episode:
"The hardest thing to explain is the racing thoughts when I'm manic. It's like I've got four brains and they're all on overdrive... it can be scary but also euphoric at the same time."
Hypomania is similar to mania, but has a few key differences:
While hypomania is less severe than mania, it can still have a disruptive effect on your life and people may notice a change in your mood and behaviour.
Here are some things you might experience during a hypomanic episode:
"On 'up' days I chatter 19 to the dozen with anyone to the point it annoys people, and I can't stay still."
After a manic or hypomanic episode you might:
(See our pages on hypomania and mania for more information.)
Many people find that a depressive episode can feel harder to deal with than manic or hypomanic episodes. The contrast between your high and low moods may make your depression seem even deeper.
(See our pages on depression for more information.)
"The lows can be flat and devoid of colour, or intense and torturous. Sometimes it's full of demons, and pain inside so bad nothing physical could hurt you."
Mixed episodes (also called 'mixed states') are when you experience symptoms of depression and mania or hypomania at the same time or quickly one after the other. This can be particularly difficult to cope with, as:
"The mixed episodes are the worst. The most unpredictable and most dangerous ones, I find them difficult to explain."
Psychotic symptoms can include:
Not everyone with a diagnosis of bipolar disorder experiences psychosis, but some people do. It's more common during manic episodes, but can happen during depressive episodes too. These kinds of experiences can feel very real to you at the time, which may make it hard to understand other people's concerns about you.
(See our pages on psychosis for more information.)
"Then [with mania] comes the paranoia, the shadows, the voices, the thought someone is behind me following me everywhere I go, ready to get me."
This information was published in May 2018. We will revise it in 2021.
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