GET THE FACTS
DEALING WITH BIPOLAR DISORDER
Are you experiencing mood swings that are more severe than usual?
It is normal to experience a range of emotions in your life. Ups and downs or changes in mood are normal and generally don’t cause too many problems. Bipolar disorder is a type of mood disorder in which people have times of low mood (major depression) and times of ‘high’ or elated mood (mania or hypomania). These episodes (changes) usually last at least a week and affect the way a person thinks, feels and acts. The symptoms can interfere with relationships, activities and day-to-day living. Most people who develop bipolar disorder will have experienced some symptoms by the age of 25.
What is a manic episode?
A manic episode is a period of constant and unusually elevated (‘high’) or irritable mood and a noticeable increase in energy or activity. This generally lasts at least one week and leads to a range of difficulties in a person’s daily life.
When someone is having a manic episode they may experience a combination of:
- Elevated mood – feeling euphoric, ‘high’ or ‘on top of the world’, or very irritable
- Less need for sleep – sleeping very little without feeling tired
- More energy, activity and drive – having lots of projects or plans, walking long distances, being always ‘on the go’
- Racing thoughts and rapid speech – thoughts jumping around from topic to topic, speech that is difficult for others to follow
- Being disinhibited – engaging in high-risk behaviours that are out of character and potentially harmful, including sexual risk-taking, driving too fast, abusing alcohol or other drugs, or spending large amounts of money
- Inflated self-esteem – ranging from uncritical self-confidence to grandiose beliefs (e.g. believing they have special powers or talents)
- Psychotic symptoms – not being in touch with reality and having hallucinations, delusional ideas, or disorganised thinking and speech
Whether these experiences are pleasant or frightening some people may be reluctant to get help. They may not believe that they are unwell or that they need treatment. They may also be feeling very suspicious and/ or confused, making it hard for them to trust others.
What is a depressive episode?
A depressive episode is a period of lowered mood, with changes in thinking and behaviour that lasts for at least two weeks.
Typical symptoms of depression include:
- Feeling in a low mood – sadness, irritability, tearfulness
- Losing interest in enjoyable activities
- Changes in appetite and weight – eating more or less than usual, gaining or losing weight rapidly
- Changes in sleeping patterns – trouble falling or staying asleep, or sleeping much more than usual
- Lowered energy and lack of motivation
- Feelings of hopelessness and worthlessness
- Poor concentration and memory problems
- Thoughts about suicide
It can be tough asking for help when you’re not feeling good, no doubt about it! The good news is that most people experiencing bipolar can get better with the right help. While some days may be better than others, with the right support you can get back to LIVIN again.
If you or someone you know might be suffering bipolar disorder, there’s a lot of help available. Some options include:
- The first step is going to see your doctor. General practitioners (GP’s) can give you helpful information about your mental health and arrange the treatment you need.
- If you think you might act on any thoughts or plans to harm yourself, you can access crisis support 24/7 from Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800 or Lifeline on 13 11 14.
- If you have hurt yourself or need immediate support, call 000.
We also encourage you to check out Start feeling better again! LIVIN tips and tricks to get you back on the right path
TIPS & TRICKS
THINGS TO DO TO STAY WELL.
There are simple things you can do to stay on top of your Mental Health. We have outlined some of our favourites in our LIVINWell Tips & Tricks Sheet.
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