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What Does Bipolar Disorder Feel Like

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The Upside Of Bipolar Disorder

…several researchers who have performed psychobiographical surveys of groups of creative individuals have found that a striking and inordinate number of accomplished artists, writers, and musicians have suffered from bipolar disorder.

Bipolar Disorder: A Guide for Patients and Families

When you are in a manic or hypomanic state, things feel good and productive. I normally write a ton of blog posts when I’m in mania, I play more music, I make more art. I just want to do more.

I have to do more.

The downside is that during depression, I feel the exact opposite.

Bipolar disorder was a mighty but malignant muse for Vincent van Gogh and Ernest Hemingway and Sylvia Plath, all of the whom committed suicide.

Bipolar Disorder: A Guide for Patients and Families

What Exactly Is High Functioning Bipolar Disorder

High functioning bipolar disorder is a mood disorder diagnosed when an individual experiences manic highs and depressive lows in succession. These highs and lows will depend on the person who experiences them. High functioning bipolar disorder describes someone who is naturally able to manage their symptoms well; it does not describe the severity of their disorder. Someone with high functioning bipolar disorder is still living with changes in mood and energy levels.

Types Of Bipolar Disorder

There are three basic types of bipolar disorder; all of them involve clear changes in mood, energy, and activity levels. These moods range from periods of extremely “up,” elated, and energized behavior or increased activity levels to very sad, “down,” hopeless, or low activity-level periods . People with bipolar disorder also may have a normal mood alternating with depression. Four or more episodes of mania or depression in a year are termed “rapid cycling.”

  • Bipolar I Disorder is defined by manic episodes that last at least seven days or when manic symptoms are so severe that hospital care is needed. Usually, separate depressive episodes occur as well, typically lasting at least two weeks. Episodes of mood disturbance with mixed features are also possible.
  • Bipolar II Disorder is defined by a pattern of depressive episodes and hypomanic episodes, but not the full-blown manic episodes described above.
  • Cyclothymic Disorder is defined by persistent hypomanic and depressive symptoms that are not intense enough or do not last long enough to qualify as hypomanic or depressive episodes. The symptoms usually occur for at least two years in adults and for one year in children and teenagers.
  • Other Specified and Unspecified Bipolar and Related Disorders is a category that refers to bipolar disorder symptoms that do not match any of the recognized categories.

Go To Couples Counseling

Couples counseling is essential for working through upset over a bipolar partner’s actions. It’s common for someone with bipolar disorder to hurt and offend their partner. When someone is first diagnosed, there are often relationship issues that need to be addressed. Couples counseling can help you:

  • Understand that there’s an illness involved in the hurtful behavior.
  • Forgive the behavior that happened during an altered mood state.
  • Set boundaries with a partner about maintaining treatment.

How To Get Help

What Does it Feel Like to Have Bipolar Disorder?

About 2.6% of the U.S. population have a diagnosis of bipolar disorder. It usually comes on at about age 25, but it can happen earlier. There are different types, too. Symptoms can happen — or not happen — along a wide spectrum.

A “life chartâ€? is a good way to track your and help your doctor diagnose whether you have bipolar disorder. You’ll record details about your moods, sleep patterns, and events in your life. If you’re on a manic swing, you might feel “upâ€? and capable, but a look at the big picture will show you how a “downâ€? will follow. The info also will give your doctor a window into your day-to-day — even hour-to-hour — life to decide how best to proceed with treatment if needed.

Special phone apps can help you keep up, too. There are quite a few available to help you track your moods, medications, sleep patterns, and more. One even analyzes how you type on your phone: your rhythm and speed, mistakes, corrections, and other dynamics, but not your content. It then uses this data to gauge your mood and predict bipolar episodes. Just remember that these apps don’t take the place of following a treatment plan under your doctor’s care.

Information For Family Carers And Friends

How can I get support?

You can speak to your GP. You should be given your own assessment through NHS mental health services to work out what effect your caring role is having on your health. And what support you need. Such as practical support and emergency support.

These are some other options for you:

  • Join a carers service
  • Join a carers support group
  • Ask your local authority for a carer’s assessment
  • Read about the condition
  • Apply for welfare benefits for carers

Rethink Mental Illness run carers’ support groups in some areas. You can also search for groups on the Carers Trust website:

  • Rethink Mental Illness:
  • Carers Trust: ;

How can I support the person I care for?

You might find it easier to support someone with bipolar disorder if you understand their symptoms, treatment and self-management skills.

You should be aware of what you can do if you are worried about their mental state. It can be helpful to know contact information for their mental health team or GP.

You could find out from your relative if they have a crisis plan. You could help your relative to make a crisis plan if they don’t have one.

As a carer you should be involved in decisions about care planning. But you don’t have a legal right to this. The medical team should encourage the person that you care for to allow information to be shared with you.

You can find out more information about:

Bipolar Disorder In Women And During Pregnancy

Women and people with bipolar II disorder are significantly more likely to experience periods of rapid cycling than men with the same condition. Other research findings indicate that women with bipolar disorder may have more depressive episodes and more mixed episodes than do men with the illness.

Pregnancy and the period can exacerbate bipolar disorder symptoms. The body goes through so many hormonal changes and women who already have an underlying bipolar disorder can have their symptoms exacerbated by these changes, explains Dr. Narasimhan. Crazy enough, sometimes women who don’t have bipolar disorders can develop one in the postpartum period. Called postpartum bipolar onset, the mood disorder may resolve itself after the postpartum period or it can sometimes remain.

“The general consensus is that when there’s severe mental illness, and someone gets pregnant, it’s not the time to take them off medication,” Dr. Narasimhan says. “That said, you have to have an honest discussion and know which medications have some risk during pregnancy and which can affect the fetus,” she says. Oftentimes the risk of not being on medication is worse than the risk of stopping the medication. Dr. Narasimhan also says she has plenty of patients who don’t want to take their medication during pregnancy, and for these patients, they weigh the risks and benefits carefully.

What Risks And Complications Can Bipolar Disorder Cause

There can be complications and risks for people who live with bipolar disorder. But these risks can be lessened with the right support and treatment.

What about suicide and self-harm?

You might have an illness where you experience psychosis, such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. Your risk of suicide is estimated to be between 5% and 6% higher than the general population.

You are more likely to try to take your own life if you have a history of attempted suicide and depression. It is important that you get the right treatment for your symptoms of depression and have an up to date crisis plan.

There is also research that suggests you are 30% – 40% more likely to self-harm if you live with bipolar disorder.

What about financial risk?

If you have mania or hypomania you may struggle to manage your finances. You may spend lots of money without thinking about the effect that it may have on your life.

You could make a ‘Lasting Power of Attorney.’ This is a legal process. This means that you pick someone that you trust to manage your finances if you lack mental capacity to manage them by yourself.

You can work with your carer and mental health team. You can form an action plan. This can say what they can do if you have a period of mania or hypomania and you start to make poor financial decisions.

What about physical health risk?

What about alcohol and drugs risk?

If you want advice or help with alcohol or drug use contact your GP.

What about driving risk?

Helpful Resources For Bipolar

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services has a free, confidential 24/7 National Helpline for 365-day-a-year information and referrals with services in English and Spanish for families facing mental health and substance use disorders. 1-800-662-HELP .

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a free hotline at 1-800-273-TALK . The toll-free TTY number is 1-800-799-4TTY . You also can text the Crisis Text Line or go to National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance offers online support groups, in-person support groups, and youth support groups.

International Bipolar Association Crisis Line  in the US, or view their list of international hotlines.

Center for Clinical Interventions has workbooks, work sheets, and information sheets available to learn more about bipolar disorders, list and track symptoms, and learn about managing your illness.

Stats from NAMI:

  • 1 in 5 U.S. adults experience mental illness each year
  • 1 in 25 U.S. adults experience serious mental illness each year
  • 1 in 6 U.S. youth aged 6-17 experience a mental health disorder each year
  • of all lifetime mental illness begins by age 14, and 75% by age 24


Family-focused therapy & bipolar disorder: JAMA Psychiatry. .Affects of Family Focused Therapy vs. Enhanced Usual Care for Symptomatic Youth at High Risk for Bipolar Disorder.”

Bipolar treatment.Current Treatment Options in Psychiatry. . “Treatment of Psychiatric Symptoms Among Offspring of Parents With Bipolar Disorder.”

Bipolar Disorder: What Does It Feel Like



Bipolar disorder is an illness that produces dramatic swings in mood . A person with bipolar disorder will alternate between periods of mania and periods of depression . In between these two extremes, a person will have periods of normal mood. To help gain a better understanding of what it feels like, mania and depression are described below.

On this Page:

Treatment For Bipolar Disorder

If you spot the symptoms of bipolar disorder in yourself or someone else, don’t wait to get help. Ignoring the problem won’t make it go away; in fact, it will almost certainly get worse. Living with untreated bipolar disorder can lead to problems in everything from your career to your relationships to your health. But bipolar disorder is highly treatable, so diagnosing the problem and starting treatment as early as possible can help prevent these complications.

If you’re reluctant to seek treatment because you like the way you feel when you’re manic, remember that the energy and euphoria come with a price. Mania and hypomania often turn destructive, hurting you and the people around you.

What Are The Long

Bipolar disorder is a life-long and often recurring illness. You may need long term support to help manage your condition.

What medication options are there?

Your doctor will look at what medication worked for you during episodes of mania or depression. They should ask you whether you want to continue this treatment or if you want to change to lithium.

Lithium usually works better than other types of medication for long-term treatment. Your doctor should give you information about how to take lithium safely. If lithium doesn’t work well enough or causes you problems, you may be offered:

  • Valproate,
  • Olanzapine, or
  • Quetiapine.

Your doctor should monitor your health. Physical health checks should be done at least once a year. These checks will include:

  • measuring your weight,
  • checking your liver and heart, and
  • checking your pulse and blood pressure.

What psychological treatments are recommended?

You should be offered a psychological therapy that is specially designed for bipolar disorder. You could have individual or group therapy.

The aim of your therapy is to stop you from becoming unwell again. This is known as ‘relapse.’ Your therapy should help you to:

If you live with your family or are in close contact with them, you should also be offered ‘family intervention.’

Family intervention is where you and your family work with mental health professionals to help to manage relationships. This should be offered to people who you live with or who you are in close contact with.

The Technical Definition Of A Mixed Mood

What Does a Manic Episode Feel Like?

The idea of a bipolar mixed mood is simple. It is when the symptoms of mania or hypomania appear concurrently with major depression symptoms. So you can have the vast energy of an elevated mood but the devastating sadness of a low mood at the same time. It’s generally, the worst of both worlds and it’s difficult to treat.

And because people experience hypomania/mania and depression differently, bipolar mixed moods vary in how they manifest dramatically.

The Keys To Bipolar Disorder Self

Get educated. Learn as much as you can about bipolar disorder. The more you know, the better you’ll be at assisting your own recovery.

Get moving. Exercise has a beneficial impact on mood and may reduce the number of bipolar episodes you experience. Aerobic exercise that activates arm and leg movement such as running, walking, swimming, dancing, climbing or drumming may be especially beneficial to your brain and nervous system.

Keep stress in check. Avoid high-stress situations, maintain a healthy work-life balance, and try relaxation techniques such as meditation, yoga, or deep breathing.

Seek support. It’s important to have people you can turn to for help and encouragement. Try joining a support group or talking to a trusted friend. Reaching out is not a sign of weakness and it won’t mean you’re a burden to others. In fact, most friends will be flattered that you trust them enough to confide in them, and it will only strengthen your relationship.

Stay closely connected to friends and family. Nothing is as calming to the nervous system as face-to-face contact with caring supportive people who can just listen to you talk about what you’re experiencing.

Make healthy choices. Healthy sleeping and eating habits can help stabilize your moods. Keeping a regular sleep schedule is particularly important.

Monitor your moods. Keep track of your symptoms and watch for signs that your moods are swinging out of control so you can stop the problem before it starts.

Here Is How This Young Man Describes The Middle

This is what I imagine it’s like for everyone else — you know, normal people. I wake up in the morning and I feel fine. I don’t dread going about my day. I go to work, get things done, and have plenty of energy throughout the day.

I can roll with the punches the average day gives me. I’m not freaking out over small problems, I enjoy the little things, and I’m not loathing the future.

I feel normal and it’s how I see myself. I’m not some lunatic running around or some mopey, lazy slug.

I honestly wish I could stay in this mindset all the time, but I know that won’t happen. I’ve accepted that my moods will change on their own, so I enjoy the calm more when it’s there.

Keep in mind that symptoms of bipolar disorder in children differ from symptoms in adults. Symptoms in children may include:

  • periods of
  • a change in sleep pattern

These behaviors don’t always point to bipolar disorder, but you should see a doctor if your child’s moods become episodic and frequently shift between happiness and sadness.

Prevention And Management Of Bipolar Episodes Almost Always Involves Medication But Therapy Can Also Be Incredibly Beneficial

Treatment for bipolar disorder in general involves medication to help stabilize the individual’s mood, and landing on the right combination of drugs can take some amount of trial and error.

Some medications may be used to treat all types of mood episodes; other medications may only work to help manage mania, hypomania, or a depressive episode individually, as SELF reported previously.

For manic episodes in particular, medications exist that can both treat and prevent these episodes, while other types only work to prevent a manic episode from happening but won’t work to treat it. Additionally, some medications used to treat bipolar disorder, like antidepressants, can also trigger a manic episode, and many drugs come with side effects. So, a person’s bipolar disorder treatment is very nuanced and may need to be adjusted over time.

“If you take your medication, oftentimes a mood elevation can be treated very quickly. For example, you might be having these bizarre thoughts one afternoon, you take your medication at night, and you’re in a much clearer thinking state the next day,” Dr. Marsh explains. “But this isn’t always the case, and the efficacy of medication somewhat depends on the person and how far removed they are from their normal thinking state and function when they do take the medication.”

*Name has been changed.

Participating In Clinical Research

Clinical research is medical research that involves people like you. People volunteer to participate in carefully conducted investigations that ultimately uncover better ways to treat, prevent, diagnose, and understand human disease. Clinical research includes trials that test new treatments and therapies as well as long-term natural history studies, which provide valuable information about how disease and health progress.

Please Note: Decisions about participating in a clinical trial and determining which ones are best suited for you are best made in collaboration with your licensed health professional.

What Does Bipolar Depression Feel Like In Bipolar I And Ii

What does bipolar depression feel like? That depends on who you ask. Bipolar depression feels different from regular because it is accompanied by periods of mania or hypomania.

Like many other mental and physical health conditions, bipolar disorder exists on a scale. We all experience periods of low moods and times where we feel more energetic and elevated, but in people with bipolar disorder, the two ends of the scale are more extreme. Episodes of depression and mania can be triggered, or else they can occur with no apparent cause.

There are three main types of bipolar disorder, and depression symptoms vary between diagnoses.

What Does It Mean If Your Partner Is Bipolar

Bipolar disorder is a mental health condition marked by intense mood changes. People with the illness switch back and forth from mania or hypomania to having episodes of .

The lifelong condition tends to run in families, although the cause of bipolar disease is unknown. However, it can often be successfully managed through treatment. There are two primary types of bipolar disorder:

My First Experience Taking Bipolar Medications

When I was discharged from the hospital where I was diagnosed, I walked out holding two prescriptions that I assumed would fix everything. I truly thought all I needed to do was take my medication as prescribed and I’d get better immediately.

I filled the prescriptions the same day I was released and took them exactly as prescribed. I was determined to get well. The time I spent in the psychiatric ward — equal parts scary and eye opening — had convinced me that I wanted no part of being sick.

The first week or so on the meds was uneventful, but then the side effects started. My mouth was dry all the time, and I craved liquids. After I took my “night pills,â€? I would babble incoherently before falling asleep. I was groggy during the day and didn’t feel quite like myself — and not a better version, either. None of this made me feel better.

The bipolar symptoms changed, but they didn’t go away. I felt different, not better. The depression started to settle, and I could sense the familiar suicidal thoughts start to creep back into my subconscious. All I could think was, “What’s wrong with me?�

It never occurred to me that the medications could be wrong, that my doctor needed to re-evaluate me. Moreover, it certainly never occurred to me that bipolar disorder was a lifelong illness that needed to be continuously managed. Because of my lack of understanding, all I felt was failure, disappointment, and fear.

What Can I Do To Manage My Symptoms

Bipolar Disorder – Madison

You can learn to manage your symptoms by looking after yourself. Selfcare is how you take care of your diet, sleep, exercise, daily routine, relationships and how you are feeling.

What lifestyle changes can I make?

Making small lifestyle changes can improve your wellbeing and can help your recovery.

Routine helps many people with their mental wellbeing. It will help to give a structure to your day and may give you a sense of purpose. This could be a simple routine such as eating at the same time each day, going to bed at the same time each day and buying food once per week.

Your healthcare professionals should offer you a combined healthy eating, exercise and sleep programme.

You can find more information about wellbeing any physical health at:.

What are support groups?

You could join a support group. A support group is where people come together to share information, experiences and give each other support.

You might be able to find a local group by searching online. The charity Bipolar UK have an online support group. They also have face to face support groups in some areas of the country. Their contact details are in the Useful contacts at the bottom of this page.

What are recovery colleges?

Unfortunately, recovery colleges aren’t available in all areas. To see if there is a recovery college in your area you can use a search engine such as Google.

What is a Wellness Recovery Action Plan ?

You can find more information about ‘Recovery’ by clicking .

What Are The Types Of Bipolar Disorder

There are three main types of bipolar disorder:

  • Bipolar I disorder involves manic episodes that last at least 7 days or manic symptoms so severe that you need immediate hospital care. Depressive episodes are also common. Those often last at least two weeks. This type of bipolar disorder can also involve mixed episodes.
  • Bipolar II disorder involves depressive episodes. But instead of full-blown manic episodes, there are episodes of hypomania. Hypomania is a less severe version of mania.
  • Cyclothymic disorder, or cyclothymia, also involves hypomanic and depressive symptoms. But they are not as intense or as long-lasting as hypomanic or depressive episodes. The symptoms usually last for at least two years in adults and for one year in children and teenagers.

With any of these types, having four or more episodes of mania or depression in a year is called “rapid cycling.”

How Do I Get Help If I Think I Have Bipolar Disorder

The usual first step to getting help is to speak to your GP.

It can help to keep a record of your moods. This can help you and your GP to understand your mood swings. Bipolar UK have a mood diary and a mood scale on their website. You can find their details in the Useful contacts section at the bottom of this page.

Your GP can’t diagnose bipolar disorder. Only a psychiatrist can make a formal diagnosis. Your GP may arrange an appointment with a psychiatrist if you have:

  • depression, and
  • ever felt very excited or not in control of your mood or behaviour for at least 4 days in a row.

They might refer you to a psychiatrist at your local NHS community mental health team .

Your GP should make an urgent referral to the CMHT if they think that you might have mania or severe depression. Or there is a chance that you are a danger to yourself or someone else.

Your GP should refer you to your local NHS early intervention team if you have an episode of psychosis and it’s your first one.

Bipolar disorder can be difficult to diagnose because it affects everyone differently. Also, the symptoms of bipolar disorder can be experienced by people who have other mental illness diagnoses. It can take a long time to get a diagnosis of bipolar disorder.

You can find more information about:

  • NHS mental health teams by clicking .

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