Bipolar disorder is a lifelong mental health condition affecting approximately one in fifty Australian’s each year. This is almost 3% of the population. Alternating between phases of mania and depression, bipolar disorder can be very overwhelming at times.
Bipolar disorder is a complex condition, and can be quite troubling to those who experience its highs and lows. Bipolar disorder is characterised by dramatic swings in mood, where people may experience extreme mania and deep depression – sometimes within hours or as long as months.
Mania is a state of over-excitement, marked by a personal sense of grandeur, recklessness and little need for sleep. The alternative is a phase of depression, in which an individual may feel extremely low, helpless, and withdrawn. It should be highlighted that there are many varieties of bipolar disorder, and no one’s experience of the condition will be the same. Individuals can also experience a “transitional” phase, where they move between the two states. This transitional phase can be rapid or gradual.
There is very little known about the cause of bipolar disorder. However, it is likely that genetic predisposition and substance misuse are contributing factors.
Treatment for bipolar disorder is aimed to help individuals “reach an even keel”. Without appropriate management and coping strategies, bipolar disorder is an extremely volatile condition that has a considerable impact on the ability to live a happy, stable and fulfilling life.
Therapies involving medical and psychiatric treatment, psychological support, and physical exercise are all critical aspects of obtaining lifestyle balance and continued emotional wellbeing.
Although bipolar disorder is a lifelong condition, individuals can live a stable life when equipped with appropriate medication and effective coping strategies.