Bipolar disorder used to be called ‘manic depression’. As the name suggests, it is characterised by episodes of very low mood or depression and/or high mood or mania.

An episode of very low mood/ depression involves feelings of hopelessness and despair. These types of bipolar symptoms can include:

  • Sad, despairing, hopeless feelings

  • Loss of interest in food, work, sex and other people

  • Difficulty sleeping or over-sleeping

  • Chronic aches or pains with no identifiable cause

A high mood involves feelings of elation. This is also known as mania. These types of bipolar symptoms can include:

  • Rapid thoughts and/ or speech

  • Impaired judgement

  • Over-spending/ buying unnecessary items on impulse

  • Unusually high levels of energy and little need for sleep

  • Unrealistic beliefs about one’s own abilities

A mixed mood involves a mixture of the above symptoms. For example, depressed mood with the restlessness and over activity of a manic episode.

People usually experience both low and high moods, but some will have only high or low episodes.

Bipolar disorder affects about one in every 100 adults. It can start at any time during or after the teenage years, although it is unusual for it to start after the age of 40. Men and women are affected equally.

ReachOut.com has developed a video with lots more information about bipolar disorder, the supports and support groups available and the ways you can help yourself. ReachOut.com is a website for young people but the video information is relevant to everyone.

Support for bipolar disorder:

Everyone experiences mental health problems, or bipolar disporder, in a unique way, so it is important to remember that your treatment and support may be different to someone elses’. It is important to trust yourself and to think about what will help you as an individual, and not to feel you are beyond help if one method of treatment doesn’t work for you.

  • A local G.P.
    A G.P. should be able to give you advice and information on different treatment options and supports.  He/ she should be able to refer you to services that can be helpful. Learn more about how a G.P. can help you.

  • H.S.E. mental health services
    The H.S.E. mental health services can support you in better understanding bipolar and finding the treatment options that best work for you. Talk to your G.P. about how mental health services can help you manage and prevent the symptoms, and have a healthy, balanced life.

  • Community & non-statutory services
    You can access a wide range of supports and services from community and non-statutory organisations. Many of these services are low-cost or free. Aware and Grow run support groups that may be of help. Search for services in your local area.

  • Listening service
    Samaritans is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for anyone struggling to cope. For confidential, non-judgemental support please free call 116 123, email jo@samaritans.org, or visit www.samaritans.ie for details of the nearest branch.