Bipolar disorder is a mental health condition that causes extreme mood changes.

You may have episodes of depression (feeling low) and mania (feeling high and energetic), possibly with periods in between where you may feel like your mood is at a 'normal' level.

Some people with bipolar disorder have more severe and frequent episodes than others - perhaps lasting for weeks at a time, or even longer.

For those who experience episodes more often, it can be difficult to stay in employment, too.

As people with bipolar disorder experience extreme mood swings, the symptoms can differ depending on whether they are in an episode of mania or depression.

Manic phases may involve:

  • Feeling very happy
  • Speaking quickly and being full of energy
  • Feeling self-important and full of new ideas
  • Being easily distracted or irritated
  • Taking part in risky or harmful behaviour

Periods of depression could include:

  • Feeling sad or hopeless
  • Lacking energy and losing interest in activities
  • Feeling empty, guilty and pessimistic
  • Having difficulty sleeping
  • Having suicidal thoughts

In episodes of both mania and depression, you may be delusional or have hallucinations.

There are a range of different treatments that can allow you to cope with bipolar disorder.

Sometimes it may be necessary to use medication. You can see a list of medicines we might offer you on our Choice and Medication portal.

Talking therapies, like Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), might help you deal with the symptoms of depression. CBT tries to change the way you react to situations by adjusting the way you think and behave with ‘coping skills’.

If your symptoms are severe, you may need to be admitted to an inpatient unit for the safety of both yourself and others.

If you’re in immediate physical danger or have a medical emergency, call 999 now.

If you’re in a mental health crisis and need urgent help, call the Single Point of Access on (01472) 256256 and select option 3. They are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Alternatively, you can call NHS 111 free from a landline or mobile phone.

We would ask that, wherever possible, you call the Single Point of Access if you’re in a mental health crisis and need urgent help.

However, if this is not possible, you can walk in to Harrison House and go straight to reception where a member of the crisis team will assess you as soon as possible. This is a 24/7 service.

Safespace provides instant support if you’re vulnerable and need assistance with your mental health out-of-hours. You can speak to the team using Zoom or by calling in via telephone, between 5.30pm and 11pm, Monday to Friday.

Bipolar UK: Bipolar UK offers support and advice to people living with bipolar disorder.

Samaritans: Samaritans provide confidential, non-judgmental support 24 hours a day by telephone and email for anyone who is worried, upset, or suicidal.

Orcha Apps Library: This library lists thousands of NHS-approved health apps by condition, making it quick and easy for you to find support.