If this is okay with you, please close this message.
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.
Depending on the way you experience different bipolar moods and symptoms, and how severely they affect you, your doctor my diagnose you with a particular type of bipolar disorder. These are some terms your doctor might use.
Using these terms can help both you and health professionals discuss your diagnosis and treatment more specifically. If your doctor ever uses words or phrases you don't understand, you can ask them to explain.
"[I have] cyclothymia. It can make you feel more like it must be all in your head as the symptoms are often not as extreme as bipolar."
This can depend on a lot of things, such as:
What's normal for you can also change over time. However, many people find that:
It's also common to have stable or neutral periods in between episodes. This doesn't mean that you have no emotions during this time – just that you're not currently experiencing mania, hypomania or depression, or that you're managing your symptoms effectively. You might find you feel stable for years in between episodes, although for some people periods of stability can be much shorter.
"It's a lot harder coming to terms with being stable [...] than I could have imagined. I've had to struggle with a 'new' identity and way of life after spending so many years thinking the ups and downs of bipolar are 'normal'."
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.