About Bipolar

This page explains in brief, what bipolar disorder is, what it means and the stigma that often comes with it.

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What is bipolar disorder?

It is a mental health problem that mainly affects your mood. You will be more likely to have times where you experience:

  • Depressive episodes where you feel low.
  • Manic or hypomanic episodes where you feel high.

People with bipolar disorder may also experience some psychotic symptoms during these manic or depressive episodes. 

Your doctor may diagnose you with a particular type of bipolar disorder depending on the severity and the way you experience these moods.

What does bipolar mean?

Bipolar has often been described as ‘manic depression’ or ‘manic depressive’ in the past. This can be inaccurate and also potentially could be a misdiagnosis.

Manic depression usually describes someone experiencing mania and depression, whereas bipolar is far more complex than this. 

Mood episodes can range from severe mania and depression, and anything in between.

At times, you might experience severe episodes, while at other moments you might feel balanced. It’s also possible that you won’t go through certain types of mood episodes. For instance, mania is not a universal experience for everyone diagnosed with bipolar disorder. 

Additionally, the condition is sometimes referred to by healthcare professionals as bipolar affective disorder, where “affective” indicates a connection to mood or emotions.

Bipolar stigma

The stigma of bipolar, many of us have heard of, but it doesn’t mean we all fully understand what this is. You may find that people have misconceptions and have negative or inaccurate understandings of what bipolar is.

This can feel very upsetting, more so if the person who thinks this way is a family member, a friend or colleague or a close loved one. Remember you are not alone in feeling this way and that there is help available, do not feel you have to put up with people mistreating you or treating you badly.

Some potentially helpful options:

  • Know your rights. To find out more about how the law can help you in certain situations, see our pages on legal rights. 
  • Show people this information. It may have a positive impact on how they behave and treat you, helping them to better understand what you may be experiencing.
  • Get more involved in your treatment. If you feel you are not progressing, you can have a say in your treatment, make your voice heard.

Get support

Talk with a trained professional about your thoughts and feelings with out free counselling and private counselling service for people over the age of 18.

Counselling Private Counselling