Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder has the same characteristics as depression but is also characterised by periods of time when the person feels elated, energised, grandiose, or irritable in between periods of low mood, sadness and lack of energy.

These swings from one polarity of depression, to feeling high or excited and/or irritable, and energised, in cycles that come and go. The pattern of these mood swings will differ in the way they present in each individual.


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Bipolar disorder is a mental illness that brings severe high and low moods and changes in sleep, energy, thinking, and behaviour. People who have bipolar disorder will experience episodes in which they feel overly elated and energised and other periods of feeling hopeless and tired.

Bipolar disorder has all of the same characteristics of depression, but is also characterised by manic periods of time during which the person feels elated, energised, grandiose, angry or irritable, in between the periods of low mood, sadness and lack of energy.

These moods swing from one polarity of depression and feeling down, to the opposite polarity of feeling high or excited and/or irritable, and energised, in cycles that come and go over time. Symptoms of mania can include: elevated mood, inflated self-esteem, decreased need for sleep, racing thoughts, difficulty maintaining attention, increase in goal-directed activity, and excessive involvement in pleasurable activities. These manic symptoms significantly impact a person’s daily living.

The pattern of these mood swings will differ in the way they present in each individual according to the type and severity of the symptoms, the length of time the cycle lasts and the time between the cycles.

If left untreated bipolar disorder in a depressive episode can result in feelings of despair and hopelessness, increasing isolation and powerlessness and eventually suicidal thinking/behaviour, while a manic or hypomanic episode can lead to many problematic consequences ranging from impulsive/poor decision making to delusions, hallucinations and psychosis.

It is crucial to seek support and treatment before a crisis develops.


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Episodes of depression and hypomania can be related to other problems, such as alcohol and other substance abuse and anxiety disorders, which need to be diagnosed and treated at the same time to prevent relapse.

Signs and Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder include:

With bipolar disorder there is a noticeable difference in mood as you swing between the two poles of down feelings and up feelings.

Down Up
Lethargy Energy
Sadness Hyperactivity
Inability to function Inability to slow down or stop
Shame Grandiosity / invincibility
Inadequacy Superpower / delusions
Despair / hopelessness Excitement / elation
Isolating Impulsivity

Do I have a problem with bipolar? If any of these signs resonate – you can do this quick self-assessment to raise your awareness.


Bipolar disorder treatment

When you are struggling with bipolar it can be very difficult to work out if something is wrong because your moods may be impacting the way you are thinking.

Recovery from, or learning to manage, bipolar disorder is likely to be more successful when underlying causes and environmental factors are addressed at the same time as the presenting symptoms and problems are treated.

Managing the depressive and manic or hypo-manic episodes of bipolar disorder can be challenging, exhausting and risky when attempting it alone and for this reason professional support and treatment is strongly recommended.

Bipolar disorder is most effectively treated by health professionals who specialise in treating mood disorders.

If you would like to speak to someone who understands the challenges of living with bipolar disorder, and who can discuss your particular situation and treatment needs, we suggest that you call the Client Care Team who will offer a free and confidential preliminary chat, or full assessment if that is your preference.

Call now on 1800 063 332 to get support or email info@southpacificprivate.com.au to find out more.

South Pacific Private is here to help when you or someone you love experiences difficulties with addictions, trauma or with mental health concerns such as depression and anxiety.

CATH: I had a choice in my life, to die or to do something. I was depressed. I hated my guts. I thought I was worthless and everyone’s problem. I didn’t know what a normal life was. I had to do something about it.


Find out if you have a problem

The goal of our self-tests is not to provide you with a diagnosis for yourself or for someone you care about. Instead, they are an opportunity for you to better understand how a behaviour might be impacting upon your life or the life of your family. Use these tests to enhance your awareness of what the problem might be. These tests should be answered honestly in order to provide accurate insight and are a chance for you to reflect upon the current situation.


Find out if you have a problem.
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