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A guide to bipolar and its treatment

People with bipolar have periods (or ‘episodes’) of what is called ‘mania’ and periods of ‘depression’. For this reason, it was once known as ‘manic depression’. It can affect people of any age, from children to older adults (people over 65).

During a manic episode, people usually have feelings of elation (extreme happiness or feeling ‘high’), or irritability, or both. They may also feel over-confident, sleep less than usual, and be driven to take unnecessary risks. 

People with depression feel low and lose pleasure in things they used to enjoy. They may also have other symptoms such as feeling tired all the time, sleep problems and thoughts of suicide or harming themselves. People with bipolar may also have symptoms of psychosis (seeing or believing things that are not real).

Episodes of mania and depression may alternate with one another. Some people have no more than one episode a year and feel well otherwise, while others do not get better fully between episodes.

Some people may have a less severe type of mania (called hypomania). People who have hypomania and depression are said to have bipolar II disorder.

Extract from 'Understanding NICE guidance - Information for people who use NHS services - Bipolar disorder'.


More information about bipolar



For information about medications prescribed to treat bipolar disorder see the trust’s Choice and Medication website.