Skip to content

Bipolar disorder

  • 1 - 3%of people are affected by bipolar disorder
  • 10 yearsis how long it takes on average to receive an accurate diagnosis
  • 1.6%UK mental health research expenditure goes towards bipolar disorder

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

Profiles

Need help?

Get information and advice on bipolar disorder at NHS Choices. If you're having a mental health emergency find out who to turn to using our urgent help and advice resource.

Related Conditions:

Share your story

Why not submit your story

Thank you

We’ll be in touch soon to tell you more.

Subscribe to our newsletter. Get the latest news on mental health.

© MQ: Transforming mental health 2016 | Registered charity in England / Wales: 1139916 & Scotland: SC046075 | Company number: 7406055