Bipolar disorder (manic depression)

What is it?

Bipolar disorder used to be called 'manic depression'.

About one in every 100 adults has bipolar disorder at some point in their life. It usually starts during or after the teenage years. It is unusual for it to start after the age of 40. Men and women are affected equally.

Bipolar disorder runs in families and seems to have more to do with genes than with upbringing.

Episodes can sometimes be brought on by stressful experiences or physical illness.

How do we know it's happening?

Someone with bipolar disorder will have severe mood swings. These usually last several weeks or months and are far beyond what most of us experience. They are:

  • Low or 'depressive' - feelings of intense depression and despair
  • High or 'manic' - feelings of extreme happiness and elation
  • Mixed - for example, depressed mood with the restlessness and over activity of a manic episode.

What we offer

Our teams work closely with GPs and will be available to help with the diagnosis and to give expert advice about the treatments available. This will usually involve some form of medication to help stabilise the condition but will also include one or more of a range of psychological treatments to help the individual recover and re-gain a sense of control over their moods and their lives.


A person should speak first with their GP who will refer them to our specialist diagnostic services.

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