Bipolar is a mood disorder, where people experience extreme mood swings. (It used to be called manic depression.) Although everybody experiences changes in mood people with bipolar experience them much more severely, so that they effect their everyday lives. People with bipolar disorder usually experience periods of extreme highs (called mania or hypomania) and extreme lows (called depression).
Someone having a manic episode is experiencing an extreme high that lasts at least a week. Symptoms of a manic episode include:
A hypomanic episode is less severe and may not last as long as a manic episode. Someone experiencing a hypomanic episode will experience the same symptoms but milder, although they won’t experience psychosis. They may still be able to go about their everyday life during the episode.
Having a manic episode can be really scary and confusing, if you think you or someone you know is having a manic episode you can call Lifeline for help and support. Sometimes someone having a manic episode will feel really good, and won’t want to get help. Tell an adult you trust if this is happening to someone you know, they’ll be able to help you get the support your friend or family member needs.
Someone having a depressive episode is experiencing an extreme low that will last at least two weeks. Symptoms of a depressive episode include:
If you or someone close to you is having a depressive episode, or considering self harm or suicide, you can call Lifeline for help and support.
If you think you or someone you know might be experiencing bipolar disorder, it’s important to get help from a mental health professional. You can visit your GP, local community health centre or your nearest headspace centre. You can also call Lifeline or get online counselling at eheadspace.
Bipolar disorder can be treated, usually with a mix of medication and psychological treatment, so that you or your friend or family member can keep on doing the things they normally do.