What is bipolar disorder?
Bipolar disorder is a mental health condition that affects a person’s mood, energy and ability to function.
It is characterised by extreme mood states, described as:
- manic or hypo-manic episodes (feeling high)
- depressive episodes (feeling low)
- potentially psychotic symptoms – where an individual experiences delusions or hallucinations
These episodes are much more severe than the normal ‘highs and lows’ of life that we all feel – they may last for several weeks or months, and can leave those affected feeling out of control or ruled by their moods. Equally a person may not be aware they are in the midst of a manic episode. These extreme moods can make work and relationships very difficult, and people with bipolar disorder are at an increased risk of suicide.
There are several types of bipolar disorder: bipolar I, bipolar II, and cyclothymic disorder. These share symptoms, but are different in terms of severity and intensity. Some people experience periods of ‘normal’ mood between episodes.
Help beat bipolar disorder
Join us and thousands of others in transforming mental health
Bipolar disorder is a lifelong condition; however, treatments are available that can relieve the symptoms and help an individual to better manage their condition. These are likely to include talking therapies, medications, and healthy lifestyle habits.
Setting the priorities for bipolar disorder research
We're working with patients, carers and scientists, to map out together the priorities for bipolar disorder research. We want to answer the questions that matter most to these groups, and bring together research funders internationally to make them a priority. Find out more >
Our research into bipolar disorder
Reducing delayed and incorrect diagnoses
Can patterns in the brain show the differences between mental health conditions – and speed up diagnosis and treatment?More about this project