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Bipolar disorder

Information, support and Tips on how to cope.

What is Bipolar

Bipolar disorder is a mental health condition characterized by extreme mood swings between periods of mania and depression. People with bipolar disorder may experience intense highs, increased energy, and impulsivity during manic episodes, followed by periods of deep sadness, low energy, and hopelessness during depressive episodes. The mood shifts can significantly impact a person's daily life and functioning. 


Rapid cycling in bipolar disorder means experiencing four or more mood swings (manic, hypomanic, depressive, or mixed) in a year. It can make treatment more challenging and impact daily life, requiring adjustments to medications and therapy. Not everyone with bipolar disorder rapid cycles

Rapid cycling

Bipolar with mixed features

Bipolar with mixed features means feeling both manic and depressed at the same time.

This is sometimes called mixed bipolar state or mixed affective bipolar.

Bipolar 1

Bipolar I is a mood disorder where individuals have at least one intense manic episode, characterized by elevated or irritable mood and increased energy. Depressive episodes may also occur,


Cyclothymic Disorder, or cyclothymia, is a milder form of bipolar disorder. It involves recurring periods of hypomanic symptoms (less severe than full-blown mania) and depressive symptoms that do not meet the criteria for a major depressive episode. Individuals with cyclothymia may experience mood swings, but the symptoms are less intense and do not typically interfere significantly with daily functioning. It's a chronic condition that lasts for at least two years (one year in children and adolescents). Cyclothymic Disorder is considered a subtype within the broader category of bipolar and related disorders. Cyclothymia can be a difficult diagnosis to receive. You may feel as though someone is saying your symptoms are 'not serious enough', but this isn't the case. Cyclothymia can seriously impact your life. And mental health is a spectrum that covers lots of different experiences.

Bipolar with seasonal pattern

Bipolar disorder with seasonal pattern means that mood swings (like feeling high or low) follow a seasonal cycle. For some, depression may happen more in winter, and mania or high energy may occur in spring or summer.

Bipolar II is a mood disorder marked by cycles of depression and hypomania. Hypomania is a less severe form of mania, involving elevated mood and increased energy. Individuals with Bipolar II don't experience full-blown mania but still have significant mood shifts.

Bipolar 2

Bipolar disorder with seasonal pattern means that mood swings (like feeling high or low) follow a seasonal cycle. For some, depression may happen more in winter, and mania or high energy may occur in spring or summer.

Bipolar 2

You are not alone

Learning to cope

Dealing with bipolar disorder can be tough, especially without clear coping strategies. Finding effective ways to manage is Important for a better life. It's important to understand bipolar disorder personally, and professionals suggest these tips. While it might be challenging to find the right approach, staying open-minded and resilient can make a big difference.


Monitor your mood

You might find it helps to keep track of your moods over a period of time. You could try noting down mood patterns in a diary or on your phone.


Understanding your triggers

You might find it helps to understand what can trigger changes in your mood. Triggers are different for different people. Some examples include:

Feeling overwhelmed or busy

Stressful periods

Significant life events, like weddings, having a child or losing a loved one

Periods of change or uncertainty

Lack of sleep

Other physical or mental health issues

Changes or problems with your treatment for bipolar disorder

It can help to recognise these patterns. Then you can take action to avoid the trigger or minimise its impact.

Learn your warning signs

You may start to notice a pattern to how you feel before an episode. This could be changes in your:

Sleeping pattern

Eating patterns or appetite


Being aware that you're about to have a change in mood can help you make sure that:

You have support systems in place

You can focus on looking after yourself

You're able to share warning signs with family and friends who can help you


Stick to a routine

Having a routine can help you feel calmer if your mood is high, motivated if your mood is low, and generally more stable. Your routine could include:

Day-to-day activities, such as the time you eat meals and go to sleep.

Making time for relaxationmindfulness, hobbies and social plans.

Taking any medication at the same time each day. This can also help you manage side effects and make sure there's a consistent level in your system.


Mange stress

Stress can trigger mood episodes. There are lots of things you can try which might help you to:

Avoid stress

Manage stress

Look after yourself when you feel stressed

Look after your physical health

Try to get enough sleep.

Disturbed sleep can be both a trigger and a symptom of episodes. Getting enough sleep can help you keep your mood stable or shorten an episode.

Eat a healthy diet

Eating a balanced and nutritious diet can help you feel well, think clearly and calm your mood.


Exercise regularly

Gentle exercise, like yoga or swimming, can help you relax and manage stress. Regular exercise can help by:

Using up energy when you're feeling high

Releasing endorphins – the 'feel-good' chemicals in the brain – when you're feeling low

Build a support network

Building a support network could help to manage your mood. This might include friends, family or other people in your life who you trust and can talk to. The kind of support they can offer includes:

Being able to recognise signs that you may be experiencing a mood episode.

Helping you look after yourself by keeping a routine or a healthy diet.

Listening and offering their understanding.

Helping you reflect on and remember what happened during a manic episode.

Helping you plan for a crisis.

Try to tell those around you what you find helpful and what you don't find helpful. For example, you can agree together what things you'd like their help with and what you would like to manage by yourself.

Information from Bipolar UK

Treatment Options

Managing bipolar disorder involves reducing the intensity and frequency of depressive and manic episodes.

Untreated episodes can endure for 3 to 6 months, with depressive episodes typically lasting between 6 to 12 months. With effective intervention, improvements are often noticeable within approximately 3 months.

Various treatment approaches exist, including medications, psychological therapies, and lifestyle adjustments like dietary enhancements and better sleep habits. Your GP and psychiatrist will discuss these options with you, and many individuals with bipolar disorder can undergo treatment without requiring hospitalization.

In severe cases or when governed by the Mental Health Act, hospitalization may be necessary due to the risk of self-harm or harm to others. A day hospital might be considered in certain situations, allowing for treatment during the day with the flexibility to return home at night.

Therapy Options

This may include:

psychoeducation – to find out more about bipolar disorder

cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)

family therapy

supportive psychotherapy (counselling)

trauma informed psychotherapy

Talking with a trained therapist is an important part of treatment for bipolar disorder.

A therapist can help you deal with depression. They can also give you advice on how to improve relationships and address any unresolved trauma or emotional distress.

Psychological treatment usually consists of around 16 sessions. Each session lasts an hour and takes place over a period of 6 to 9 months.


Getting ​regular exercise

Planning activities you enjoy that give you a sense of achievement

Improving your diet

Getting more sleep

You can get lifestyle advice from your psychologist or community mental health team.

Learning to recognise triggers

You can learn to recognise the warning signs of an episode of mania or depression.

Someone close to you may be able to help you identify your early signs of relapse from your history. For example, a mental health professional, peer support worker, family member or friend.

Wellness Recovery Action Plans (WRAP) are very useful. Your local community mental health team can advise you on how to develop this plan.

This will not prevent the episode from happening, but it will allow you to get help in time.

This may mean making some changes to your treatment. Your GP or specialist can talk to you about this.


Support can mean talking with a friend, family member, teacher, GP or Mental health services.

Don't suffer in silence there are people there to listen.

Information from this website has come from the NHS, HSE and bipolar Uk.

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