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Bipolar Disorder




Bipolar Disorder  Bipolar Signs & Symptoms  Types of Bipolar  Bipolar 'Behaviours'  Causes of Bipolar Disorder  Triggers  

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 All these people suffered, or suffer from Bipolar Disorder.







Bipolar Disorder 



To accurately diagnose Bipolar Disorder is not often that easy. People can go many years before a diagnosis is made. 


Two main aspects to the Disorder are:- (1) you must have had episodes or an episode of clinical depression and (2) you need to have suffered from mania or hypomania (a slightly less intense mania). 


You need to ask yourself whether there are times when you feel more ‘wired’, ‘up’ or ‘hyper’ than in your ‘normal’ mood, or when you are depressed. These experiences need also to be in the absence, or without the effect, of any drugs that may cause these symptoms, whether they be illicit of prescribed. 


Many great, creative and high achieving people have suffered from Bipolar Disorder. Comedians such as Ben Stiller, Robin Williams & Jim Carey are prime examples. This is not to say that Bipolar ensures success; far from it. Bipolar can be one of the most devastating, debilitating and damaging mental illnesses.  





Bipolar – Signs & Symptoms 



  • Positive Mood(everything’s great no matter if it is not, or without any reasoning or rational thought)  


  • Irritability(Intolerance & inability to cope with minor irritations. Easily angered)  


  • Inappropriate behaviour(in the absence of any effect from drugs or alcohol. Could be overspending, erratic and dangerous driving, speeding, disinhibited sexual behaviour, out of character aggression & fights etc.)  


  • Increased energy(usually depriving the sufferer of sleep. ‘Normal’ tiredness or lethargy is not experienced. Tend to party long & hard, undertake extra activities or tasks, not generally organized and well thought out and often multiple unfinished tasks)  


  • Creativity(unusual and out of character ‘grand’ ideas and plans. Poor business decisions etc.)  


  • Mysticalexperiences or psychotic symptoms (generally of a psychotic depth, non reality based. Can be grandiose and often with strong religious overtones)  




Famous people with Bipolar Disorder



Bipolar Disorder (the types)    



There are basically two (2) types of Bipolar Disorder, known as Bipolar Disorders (I) & (II).


People who suffer from Bipolar (I) are more likely to experience longer periods of ‘mania’ and also psychotic symptoms.


Bipolar Disorder (II) does not include psychotic symptoms and the episodes of mania generally last for a short time (hours or for a maximum of a few days).


There are also those people who experience ‘mixed episodes’ as part of their Bipolar illness. They display symptoms of both Depression & Mania and their moods can change very quickly and within days or sometimes hours. They feel ‘high’, then ‘low’ and then ‘high’ again.


‘Rapid Cycling’ is an experience Bipolar sufferers have where there are at least four (4) major changes of mood in any one year. They can go from ‘Mania’ to ‘Depression’ to a ‘Mixed episode’.


In between mania and depression, people usually return to a more stable mood. As a result assessment and treatment can often not be sought. If untreated, Bipolar Disorder will only worsen in severity.





Bipolar Disorder (Behaviours)



Due to the alternate moods exhibited with Bipolar Disorder, there is a need to recognize the ‘behaviours’ displayed by the person during both Depressive and Manic phases of the illness.


The behaviours exhibited for the ‘depressive phase’ are identical to that of ‘Clinical Depression’. These are: 



  • Spending less time with friends & family – more isolative.    
  • Increase irritability and frustration    
  • ‘Moodiness’ & ‘brooding’ that is out of character.    
  • Overly sensitive – finding it hard to take even minor criticism.    
  • Lower sex drive.    
  • Increase alcohol and/or drug use   
  • Changes in sleep patterns such as waking through the night, difficulty getting to sleep or waking very early.    
  • Changes in appetite and weight. This may be either loss of both or an increase in both.    
  • Unwillingness to train.    
  • Disinterest in the game or the result.    
  • Increased complaints of physical illness, injury, pain, fatigue etc.    
  • Risk taking behaviours – reckless and dangerous eg. Speeding, dangerous driving etc.    
  • Slowing of movements, slumped posture, slower speech & thoughts.   



During the ‘manic phase’ of the illness, the following behaviours will most probably be exhibited:



  • Irritability   
  • Overactivity   
  • Increased energy   
  • Increased spending   
  • Increased sex drive   
  • Racing thoughts   
  • Rapid speech   
  • Decreased sleep   
  • Grandiose ideas   
  • Hallucinations and/or delusions  



Generally the person suffering from Bipolar Disorder tends not to ‘get in trouble’ when in the ‘Depressive Phase’, though the risk of self harm & suicide is very real.


During the ‘Manic Phase’, however, there is a different story. These episodes are ‘out there, in your face’ types and certainly attract a lot of attention from everyone they come in contact with. Unfortunately, this can often involve the Law and other authorities, even club management & officials.


Treatment is essential for Bipolar Disorder. If not, then the following consequences of the illness and associated behaviour may occur:



Bipolar Disorder 

Causes for the Development of Bipolar Disorder

As with many 'mental illnesses' there is no definitive cause for Bipolar Disorder. There are no blood tests or other types of testing that can indicate you have, or will develop the illness.

Some of the suggested or noted anomolies in the individual with Bipolar are:

  • Neurotransmitter or chemical imbalances in the brain; with medical imaging techniques indicating changes & areas affected with the disorder.
  • Physcial changes in brain structure & therefore 'functioning'. This is linked also with chemical factors.
  • Abnormal function of the 'Thyroid' gland. One of the many 'routine' blood tests undertaken wwhen someone presents with symptoms of Bipolar are 'Thyroid function tests' (TFTs)
  • Heredity - family history of Bipolar or other 'mental illness' eg. depression, schizophrenia, anxiety disorder or psychotic disorder
  • High levels of 'cortisol' - a 'stress' hormone

There certainly appears to be a 'vulnerability' or 'pre-disposition' to the development of Bipolar, with some research and evidence suggesting a genetic link, however the most important factor to the manifestation of the illness lies in certain 'triggers' that might give rise to its intrinsic symptoms being exhibited.


These 'triggers' are often seen in other mental health conditions, disorders & illnesses, though if one has the aformentioned 'vulnerability' to Bipolar, then this may very well develop.

Triggers & Contributing Factors

  • Stress- This does not have to be a 'negative' life event such as death or 'getting the sack', but does imply sudden or 'intense' life incidents, events or changes.


  • Seasonal changes - As strange as it may seem to most, mood variances (from mania/hypomania to depression) can be according to a seasonal pattern. Winter months are more likely to induce a 'depressive' state whereas summer or spring might bring with it elevated mood.


  • Substance use & abuse - The use of certain drugs or substances may chemically induce elevated mood or conversely depressive symptoms; either when being used or after its withdrawal. These substances do not 'cause' Bipolar, though they may 'bring on' an episode of extreme mood changes &/or exacerabate a pre-existing condition and the course of the disorder.


  • Medication - Some medications, particularly 'anti-depressant' medications may induce elevated mood in those susceptible or prone to Bipolar Disorder. Any stimulant medication is likely to do so as can mediations that affect the thyroid or adrenal gland. 


  • Sleep disturbances or sleep deprivation - Those with Bipolar vulnerability can have their mood adversely affected by limited or insufficient sleep. A problem in this area is the fact that with an elevating mood, less sleep is sought or needed and this will only intensify the hypomania/mania in a kind of 'snow-balling' manner.


  • Dietary factors - Dietary deficiencies or over-indulgence in certain foods to the exclusion of a 'balanced diet' may also affect those prone to the development of Bipolar Disorder. Some foods are of a 'stimulant' nature and all food is necessary for biochemical & hormonal stasis. This can result in biochemical changes in the brain & hormonal imbalances; those already mentioned above.  

By looking at the 'triggers' for Bipolar Disorder and the symptoms (depression, hypomania & mania), one can see more accurately how prevention & managment of the disorder might be acheived. If these points above can 'trigger' the disorder or an episode, then it stands to reason that by focusing on their control & effect, one has a better chance of sustaining mental 'well-being'; without necessarily the aid of medication only. If medication is necessary or prescribed, the measures noted below will optimize the effectiveness of the treatment ordered.


  • Ensure you have a well-balanced diet
  • Maintain adequate or sufficient sleep
  • Reduce 'stress' as much as is possible
  • Maintain vigilance in the self examination of your mood, behaviour & thinking
  • Do not 'over-schedule' yourself & learn to relax
  • Abstain from, or limit your intake of alcohol
  • Do not indulge in any illicit substances or misuse prescription medication
  • Take any medication prescribed by your Doctor according to how it is ordered and how you are instructed to do so
  • If possible, encourage your GP to order routine blood tests to monitor 'thyroid function' etc. and attend regular 'physical examinations' for your overall 'heatlh status'. Should you be prescribed 'mood stabilizing' medication ensure you attend the essential regular blood tests for the appropriate drug 'levels'
  • Learn the art of 'early recognition' of signs & symptoms of both developing depression or elevated mood
  • Should you find your mood altering, a 'swift' response is required - take yourself off to your GP or other clinician as soon as possible  


Bipolar Disorder (a personal story)

Please click here for Bipolar Disorder 'Fact Sheet'.

  Bipolar'Self Assessment' 

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Should you have concerns regarding any issue relating to your 'mental or physical well-being', 'Kick off' strongly recommend you seek professional assistance. This may entail contacting your GP or similar clinician (Psychologist, Psychiatrist, Counsellor etc.). You may also contact the appropriate agency or service that might assist you. Irrespective of your choice, ensure you see someone who might help. 


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