What Is Bipolar Depression

What Is Bipolar Depression

by Dr Emma Gray - 8th October, 2018


Bipolar Disorder (previously known as Manic Depression) is a mental health disorder that affects your mood with sufferers having extreme swings between periods of depression and mania. During periods of depressions sufferers will experience lethargy, overwhelming feelings of worthlessness, sadness and sometimes thoughts of suicide. During periods of mania, sufferers will feel ‘wired’ and behave impulsively and frenetically. They will experience boundless amounts of energy, a flurry of new ideas and ambition and will not want to sleep or eat.

The mood swings experienced in Bipolar Disorder differ from normal mood swings, where mood fluctuates within a relatively small margin across the day. For those with Bipolar Disorder mood swings are far more severe and can last for an extended period with some sufferers rarely experiencing any balance in their mood.

Sufferers of Bipolar Disorder may initially be diagnosed with Clinical Depression before the onset of their first manic phase. They will then receive the alternative diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder.

The course of Bipolar Disorder varies widely with some sufferers experiencing only 1 episode of mania and other vacillating frequently between episodes of depression and mania.

How Common is Bipolar Disorder?

Bipolar Disorder  is quite common with approximately 1% of the population estimated to suffer from it. Onset is usually between 15 years and 19 years and rarely after 40.

Famous people with Bipolar Disorder include:

Demi Lovato , Mariah Carey, Sinead O’Connor, Jean-Claude Van-Damme, Catherine Zeta Jones, Russell Brand, Carrie Fisher, Amy Winehouse, Kurt Cobain, Winston Churchill, Linda Hamilton, Stephen Fry and Vincent Van Gogh.

What are the Causes of Bipolar Disorder?

The biological origins of Bipolar Disorder are unclear, but many experts believe there are genetic and/or chemical factors that predispose sufferers to developing the condition. It is also thought that early experiences that affect the way a person thinks about themselves, other people and the world increase an individual’s vulnerability to developing the disorders. The main trigger for Bipolar Disorder is thought to be extreme stress.

What is the Treatment for Bipolar Disorder?

There are several treatment options for Bipolar Disorder.

In terms of medication, mood stabilisers are prescribed to prevent episodes of depression and anxiety, these are taken every day over the longer term. Medication is also available to treat symptoms when they occur.

In terms of psychological treatment, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) has been shown to help sufferers improve their mood, manage their relationships, identify triggers and manage manic episodes.


If you are suffering with any of the issues discussed in this article and would like to seek professional help then you may find our Problems Pages helpful.

Dr Emma Gray

Dr Emma Gray

I am often the first person with whom my patients share significant and intimate thoughts and memories; I never take that privileged position for granted nor the opportunity to help someone to feel better about themselves and discover a more fulfilling life. One of my colleagues once described me as a natural psychologist; I guess she was alluding to the fact that I feel at ease being a therapist, I can empathise with people’s distress and discomfort but don’t feel overwhelmed by it, I can understand their problem and know how to help, it has always just felt like what I should be doing.

Read more about my approach to counselling here...

View all my other articles here...

Recent Posts by
Dr Emma Gray:

Leave a Comment