How to spot the signs and symptoms of bipolar disorder

Approximately one in every 100 adults suffers with bipolar disorder (Photo: Shutterstock)Approximately one in every 100 adults suffers with bipolar disorder (Photo: Shutterstock)
Approximately one in every 100 adults suffers with bipolar disorder (Photo: Shutterstock)

Singer Mariah Carey has revealed in a recent interview that she was diagnosed with bipolar II disorder in 2001, and has been privately battling with bipolar for many years.

Around one in every 100 adults is thought to have bipolar disorder, but - as with many mental illnesses - there is still a great deal of misinformation and confusion around what the condition actually is.

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What is bipolar disorder?

Formerly known as manic depression, bipolar disorder affects a person's mood, prompting periods or episodes of both depression and mania.

Depression results in the sufferer feeling extremely low and lethargic, while mania is the opposite - a highly energetic and ecstatic mood.

Pop star Mariah Carey recently revealed that she has suffered with bipolar II for many years (Photo: Shutterstock)

A bipolar episode can last for several weeks (or longer), and some people diagnosed with bipolar disorder may not experience a 'normal' mood very often.

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What are the common symptoms?

Bipolar disorder can be complicated to diagnose, but according to the NHS, the illness is characterised by severe mood swings, and patterns of depression and mania.

While there are many symptoms of depression, some common indicators include feeling sad, hopeless or irritable most of the time, a lack of energy and the loss of interest in everyday activities.

Signs of mania include feeling very happy, elated or overjoyed, talking very quickly and acting in a risky or harmful way that is out of character.

Someone with bipolar disorder may experience episodes of depression more regularly than episodes of mania, or vice versa.

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How is bipolar disorder treated?

Medication, psychological treatment, lifestyle changes or a combination of all three are used to treat bipolar disorder.

Medication is one way to treat bipolar disorder, but it isn't the only option (Photo: Shutterstock)

Medication is used to either prevent episodes of mania and depression, or to treat the symptoms when they occur.

Talking therapies can help sufferers to deal with their symptoms, and recognise the triggers of an episode of depression or mania.

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Regular exercise, improving your diet, getting more sleep and regularly taking part in activities that give you a sense of achievement can also prove effective in managing bipolar disorder.

What to do if you think you may have bipolar disorder

If you suspect you could be suffering from bipolar disorder, it is important to speak to your GP and be open and honest with them about your experiences.

Should your GP agree that you are showing signs of the condition, they will refer you to a psychiatrist for an assessment.

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