Bipolar disorder

Bipolar disorder (also known as bipolar affective disorder or simply, bipolar) is a mental health condition that affects your moods, which can quickly shift from one extreme to another.

Although there is no known cure for bipolar disorder, there are numerous efficient treatments. You may learn to control mood swings with the use of these treatment choices, which will benefit both your symptoms and your quality of life.

Here, we break down the signs, symptoms and causes, as well as the treatments available to help with this condition.

What is bipolar disorder?

Bipolar disorder (formerly known as manic depression or bipolar disease) is a mental health condition that mostly affects your mood and emotions. If you've been diagnosed with bipolar you may find that your emotions are amplified to a degree you can't control, regardless of whether they are initially positive or negative emotions. If you have bipolar disorder, you may occasionally experience the following:

  • Manic or hypomanic episodes - feeling ecstatic
  • Depressive episodes - feeling extremely and uncontrollably low
  • Some psychotic symptoms - during manic or depressive episodes

These various sensations may be referred to as mood episodes or states. When you're depressed, you could feel down or hopeless and stop enjoying most activities. You can feel ecstatic, energised, or particularly irritated when your mood swings to mania or hypomania (less severe than mania). Sleep, energy, activity, judgement, conduct, and the capacity for clear thought can all be impacted by these mood changes.

Your doctor may determine that you have a specific type of bipolar illness based on how you experience these moods and how much they affect you.

Bipolar disorder affects people in different ways

It's estimated that between 1-3% (or around 1 in every 100) people are diagnosed with bipolar disorder at some point in their lives. Although bipolar disorder can appear at any age, it often begins between the ages of 15 and 19 and very infrequently develops after the age of 40.

However, it can take many years until a person receives an accurate diagnosis as people usually only seek help during periods of depression. Whilst bipolar disorder is a lifelong diagnosis, by adhering to a treatment plan, you can control your mood swings and other symptoms. The majority of the time, psychotherapy and medications are used to effectively treat bipolar disorder (psychotherapy).

Bipolar disorder causes mood fluctuations in a very diverse way. Bipolar affective disorders are characterised by fluctuations between elated mood (mania) and depressed mood. The fluctuation between these moods can differ from person to person. Fluctuations can happen after a few days, weeks, months or years and sometimes occur several times a day. Frequent changes in mood are called rapid cycling.

These changes can also include periods of mood stability where a person feels unaffected by depression or mania. For instance, some bipolar individuals only experience a few episodes over their lifetime and remain stable in between, whilst others experience numerous episodes.

What causes bipolar disorder?

There are a number of potential things that are likely to trigger an episode, but no single cause of bipolar disorder has been identified by experts.

Some factors that may be responsible for bipolar disorder development are:

  • Biology - Bipolar disorder patients seem to experience structural abnormalities in their brains. Although the importance of these changes is not yet clear, they may eventually point to their root causes.
  • Genetics - People who have a first-degree family member with the disorder, such as a sibling or parent, are more likely to experience bipolar disorder. Researchers are looking for genes that might contribute to the development of bipolar disorder.

What are the types of bipolar disorder?

Bipolar disorder and its related disorders come in a variety of forms. Depression and mania or hypomania may be among them. Symptoms might bring about erratic changes in mood and behaviour, which can cause serious distress and make life difficult.

  • Bipolar I - At least one manic episode must occur for a person to be diagnosed with bipolar I. Before and after the manic period, you could encounter major depressive episodes or hypomanic episodes, which are less severe than manic episodes. This type of bipolar disorder affects people of all genders equally.
  • Bipolar II - Patients with bipolar II go through one severe depressive episode that lasts for at least two weeks. Additionally, they experience at least one hypomanic episode every four days. According to 2017 research, this kind of bipolar illness may be more prevalent among women.
  • Cyclothymia - People with this type of bipolar disorder had several episodes of hypomania symptoms and depressive symptoms for at least two years, or one year in adolescents and teens (though less severe than major depression).
  • Other types - These comprise, for instance, bipolar disorders and other associated disorders brought on by particular medicines or alcohol or as a result of a medical condition like Cushing's disease, multiple sclerosis, or stroke.

It's important to note that bipolar II disorder is a distinct diagnosis, not a milder variation of bipolar I illness. People with bipolar II conditions can experience prolonged depressive episodes, which can significantly hinder their lives, but the manic episodes of bipolar I disorder can be severe and dangerous. Although bipolar disorder can affect anyone at any age, it is often discovered in adolescence or the early 20s. Symptoms might change over time and from one person to the next.

Symptoms of bipolar disorder

Manic episodes that last at least a week are the hallmark of bipolar I disorder, whereas hypomanic episodes characterise bipolar II disorder or cyclothymia.

However, a large number of those who have bipolar illness go through both hypomanic/manic and depressed phases. These fluctuating emotional states don't necessarily follow a predetermined pattern, and manic episodes aren't usually followed by sadness. Before feeling the opposite mood, a person may go through several cycles of the same mood state with intervals of euthymia.

The fact that these mood swings diverge from your typical personality and last for a considerable amount of time is a significant component of them. In the case of mania, it may take days or weeks, and in the case of depression, it can take weeks or months.

The strength of the manic and depressed periods might vary from person to person and within a single individual over time.

Mania and hypomania symptoms

Mania is a disorder in which you experience dramatic changes in your emotions, thoughts, energy, talkativeness, and activity level. You also experience a time of excessively high or irritated mood. Others will note the shift in your regular conduct and a high degree of vigour in your physical and mental activities.

Manic individuals may engage in behaviours that hurt them physically, socially, or financially, such as abruptly spending or gambling enormous sums of money or operating a vehicle carelessly. Additionally, they may occasionally experience psychotic symptoms like delusions and hallucinations, which can make it challenging to differentiate between bipolar disorder and other conditions like schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder.

During manic episodes, you may act more impulsively than normal since you often feel unstoppable or invincible. Examples of this type of conduct that are frequently used include:

  • Consuming alcohol and/or drugs excessively
  • Engaging in unsafe sexual activity
  • Spending spree

Impulsivity and risk-taking, however, can also manifest in a variety of unexpected ways. Perhaps you:

  • Suddenly quit your job
  • Drive dangerously
  • Take off on a sudden trip without telling anybody close to you
  • Make a significant impulsive purchase
  • Engage in extreme activities that you typically wouldn't contemplate

Many of the symptoms of hypomania, which is typically linked to bipolar II disorder, are the same but less extreme. Contrary to mania, hypomania usually doesn't cause issues at work, in the classroom, or in your personal relationships. Hypomanic episodes don't feature psychosis. They don't usually persist as long as manic episodes or warrant hospitalisation.

You may feel extremely motivated and productive when you have hypomania, but you might not notice other changes in your mood. Even those who don't know you well might not. The people who are closest to you, however, will frequently notice any changes in your mood or level of activity.

Major depressive episode symptoms

When a major depressive episode occurs, the symptoms are severe enough to significantly interfere with daily activities including job, school, social interactions, or romantic relationships. Some typical symptoms include:

  • Tiredness
  • Alterations in appetite
  • Despondency and feelings of unworthiness

A "down" change in mood might make you feel drowsy, uninspired, and depressed. At least five of these signs will be present in major depressive episodes associated with bipolar disorder:

  • Depressed emotion, including sadness, emptiness, hopelessness, or tears (in children and teens, depressed mood can appear as irritability)
  • Marked loss of interest in or lack of enjoyment in all (or almost all) activities
  • Either agitation or sluggish behaviour
  • Fatigue or a decrease in energy
  • Self-doubt or excessive or inappropriate guilt feelings
  • Significant weight reduction without dieting, weight gain, or a change in appetite is not seen (in children, failure to gain weight as expected can be a sign of depression)
  • Insomnia or excessive sleeping
  • Reduced capacity for thought or concentration, or indecision
  • Suicidal thoughts, preparation, or attempt

Although many persons with bipolar disorder do, not everyone has serious depressive episodes. You might not have all five signs of depression necessary for a significant episode, depending on the kind of bipolar disorder you have. It's also important to keep in mind that the euphoria of mania can occasionally, but not always, seem pleasurable. After receiving mania therapy, the symptom-free mood you experience may resemble a depressive episode or a "down" shift rather than a more usual mood state.

Depression is distinct from bipolar disorder. Although depression may be brought on by bipolar disorder, there is a significant distinction between the two. You may experience both "up" and "down" mood states if you have bipolar disorder. However, if you have depression, until you receive therapy, your mood and emotions may continue to be "low."


Mania signs and symptoms

Some people with bipolar disorder will experience mania or hypomania episodes often throughout their lives, while others may only do so seldom. Manic episode warning signs and symptoms include:

  • Excessive joy, optimism, and enthusiasm
  • Heightened impulsivity and bad judgement
  • Making ambitious yet impossible plans
  • Reckless and risky conduct
  • Mood swings that are abrupt and intense, such as swinging from being happy to being furious and aggressive
  • Restlessness
  • Speaking quickly and thinking quickly
  • Reduced need for sleep and more vitality
  • Having the impression that you are especially important, clever, or strong
  • Psychosis is characterised by delusions and hallucinations (in the most severe manic episodes)

The majority of the time, individuals going through a manic episode are oblivious of the detrimental effects of their activities. Suicide is a constant risk for persons with bipolar illness since it may happen during manic as well as depressed phases.

Other characteristics, such as anxious discomfort, sadness, psychosis, or others, may be present together with the classic signs and symptoms of bipolar I and bipolar II disorders. The onset of symptoms may be accompanied by diagnostic descriptions like mixed or fast cycling. Bipolar symptoms might also alter with the seasons or appear during pregnancy.

Can bipolar disorder be prevented?

Since no known cause of bipolar disorder has been identified, there is sadly no recognised strategy to fully prevent it.  However, if bipolar disorder or any mental health issue is treated as soon as possible, it can be prevented from growing worse.

Some tactics, if you have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, might assist keep minor symptoms from developing into full-fledged episodes of mania or depression:

  • Watch out for warning signs - Early treatment of symptoms can stop episodes from worsening. Your bipolar episodes and the things that set them off may follow a pattern that you've seen. Call your doctor or speak to a specialist immediately if you think you're starting a maniacal or depressive episode. Engage friends or family in the process of keeping an eye out for warning indicators.
  • Follow the directions on your prescriptions exactly - Don't give in to the temptation to quit receiving therapy. If you stop taking your medicine or reduce the amount on your own, you risk experiencing withdrawal symptoms, or your symptoms can become worse or come back.
  • Avoid drugs and limit / avoid alcohol - Recreational drug use might exacerbate your symptoms and increase the likelihood that they will return.

Future studies may shed more light on the precise origins of bipolar disease and provide researchers with new information on potential preventative measures.

How do you diagnose bipolar disorder?

You must have gone through at least one episode of mania or hypomania in order to be diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Your healthcare professional may employ a variety of methods to identify bipolar disorder, including:

  • A medical checkup.
  • Asking about your symptoms, life history, experiences, and family history is part of a full medical history
  • Blood testing and other medical procedures to rule out other illnesses like hyperthyroidism that might be the source of your symptoms
  • A mental health assessment

Our specialists at Schoen Clinic evaluate the pattern of symptoms and how much they interfere with your life during the most severe episodes to determine what form of bipolar disorder you may have. The most successful course of therapy can be determined in large part by the accurate diagnosis.


Mental health problems linked to bipolar disorder

If you have bipolar disorder it's possible that you may have other associated mental health problems. Some mental health conditions commonly linked to bipolar disorder include:

These associated problems run the risk of exacerbating the excessive symptoms of bipolar disorder. Some risk factors that may increase the chances of triggering an episode could be:

  • Times of extreme stress, such as bereavement or other traumatic events
  • Overwhelming problems
  • Life-changing events
  • Chemical factors or drug abuse

It might be more challenging to address the disorders if you already have other mental health issues like anxiety or ADHD in addition to bipolar disorder. For instance, antidepressants used to treat obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and stimulants used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) may exacerbate bipolar disorder symptoms and potentially cause a manic episode.

Again, treating these illnesses is not impossible, despite the fact that it may be challenging. Our bipolar specialists in London are experts in treating a wide range of anxiety and mood disorders and use a holistic approach to treatment, taking your whole self and circumstances into consideration.

Start your treatment journey today. For fast access to specialised private mental health treatment in London at Schoen Clinic Chelsea, you can use your health insurance or simply fund your own treatment. Call our caring team direct on +44 20 4571 6312 or email us today.

Treatment for bipolar disorder

Bipolar affective disorder is a broad term which includes a number of different presentations. Therefore, it is really important that you receive a full assessment with a specialist professional to get the treatment and help you need to reduce your symptoms. To achieve a precise diagnosis, our experts will perform a full assessment in order to understand potential causes and ongoing factors. Then they will cooperatively develop your treatment goals and a programme of dedicated support.

At Schoen Clinic our multidisciplinary team of specialists will provide a comprehensive and holistic range of interventions and support for your personal recovery.

A typical approach to treatment for bipolar affective disorder is a combination of prescribed medication and psychological therapy.

Private specialised bipolar treatment in London at our leading mental health clinic

Mania episodes associated with bipolar disorder can continue anywhere from three to six months if a person is not treated. Depression episodes typically persist longer, between six and twelve months. However, with effective therapy, episodes typically subside in about three months.

The majority of bipolar disorder sufferers can be helped by combining several therapies. Medication, psychotherapy, and lifestyle modifications are some of them. There may also be some advantages to certain natural treatments.

A psychiatrist who is experienced in treating bipolar disorder and associated disorders and who specialises in identifying and treating mental health concerns is the ideal person to direct treatment. At our award-winning mental health clinic in London, our specialists work together as a multidisciplinary team to support you in achieving the best possible outcome from treatment. Consultant Psychiatrists, nurses, psychologists, and social workers might be on your treatment team.

It's important to remember that bipolar is a chronic illness, meaning it will never fully go away. The goal of bipolar treatment is to control symptoms and return your quality of life.

The course of therapy might include:

Medications - You'll usually need to start taking medication to stabilise your moods.

Continued therapy -  Even when you feel better, bipolar disorder has to be treated with medication for the rest of your life. People who forego maintenance therapy run the risk of experiencing a recurrence of their symptoms or of having mild mood swings develop into major depression or mania.

Day treatment programme - We offer a specialised treatment programme for adults with mental health conditions at Schoen Clinic Chelsea. This programme offers the assistance and guidance you require while you manage your symptoms.

Start your treatment journey today. For fast access to specialised private mental health treatment in London at Schoen Clinic Chelsea, you can use your health insurance or simply fund your own treatment. Call our caring team direct on +44 20 4571 6312 or email us today.

Leading bipolar disorder therapy in London

Bipolar disorder can become debilitating. It's time to consult a mental health expert when your health concerns start to interfere with your life.

Our team of mental health specialists works with you to develop a personalised treatment plan using evidence-based approaches, such as cognitive defusion techniques and mindfulness-based cognitive therapy Psychotherapy, sometimes known as "talk therapy," can be a useful component of a bipolar illness patient's treatment regimen.

The word "psychotherapy" refers to a range of therapeutic methods intended to help you recognise and alter unhelpful feelings, attitudes, and actions. Working with a mental health specialist, such a psychologist or psychiatrist, may offer you and your family support, knowledge, and direction.

The goal of treatment for bipolar disorder is to reduce your symptoms and increase your capacity for daily living. Psychotherapy is typically used as part of treatment, with medication incorporated to support a balanced mood.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) for bipolar disorder

The therapy known as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is organised and goal-oriented. You receive assistance from a therapist or psychologist in closely examining your feelings and thoughts. You'll learn how your ideas impact your behaviour. Through CBT, you may unlearn harmful behaviours and mental patterns and learn to think more positively.

Psychoeducation for bipolar disorder

Psychoeducation is the method used by mental health experts to educate individuals about their disorders. Understanding bipolar illness and how it might influence your life will help you and your loved ones manage and live with it better because it is a difficult condition.



Specialised treatment programme for adults with anxiety & mood disorders

At our renowned London mental health clinic, we provide highly specialised help, support and treatment for common mental health disorders.

Adults suffering from disorders like depression, anxiety, panic attacks, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), stress, low mood, emotional trauma, low self-esteem, or bipolar disorder can access a variety of therapeutic treatments through our specialised specialised treatment programme.

Find out more today. Scan the QR code or visit the link below.


Why choose Schoen Clinic Chelsea for your private bipolar treatment?

Schoen Clinic Chelsea is one of the top mental health facilities in London. As part of a global hospital network that treats 300,000 patients yearly, we have been helping people with mental health concerns for more than 35 years.

We provide health anxiety treatment at Schoen Clinic in accordance with the latest studies from leading specialists in anxiety and mood disorders.

We employ tried-and-true outcome-focused techniques to provide patients with the best opportunity for recovery and relapse prevention.

A multidisciplinary team frequently reviews the treatment plan, which is prepared using a personalised approach based on your requirements and symptoms. Our multidisciplinary team is made up of consultant psychiatrists, nurses, psychotherapists/psychologists, family therapists, and occupational therapists. They will collaborate with you in a consistent and sympathetic manner, making sure to assist you in each aspect of your life.

Get in touch with the team today.

Start your treatment journey today. For fast access to specialised private mental health treatment in London at Schoen Clinic Chelsea, you can use your health insurance or simply fund your own treatment. Call our caring team direct on +44 20 4571 6312 or email us today.

Our leading London private bipolar specialists

No person found with the selected options