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Bipolar disorder

Summary

Bipolar disorder

Bipolar disorder used to be called ‘manic depression’. As the old name suggests, someone with bipolar disorder will have severe mood swings, which can range from depression to mania. These episodes can last several weeks or months and are far beyond what most of us experience and include feelings of intense depression and despair, high or 'manic' feelings of extreme happiness and elation or a mixtures of depressed mood with the restlessness and overactivity of mania. Treatment with medication by a psychiatrist is almost always necessary. Most people with bipolar disorder can be treated using a combination of different treatments, such as medication, talking therapy, lifestyle changes and exercise. Drugs that are often referred to as mood stabilisers, i.e. stabilising mood swings from severe depression to hyperactive mania are usually prescribed by the treating psychiatrist. Most guidelines suggest depression in bipolar disorder can be treated with mood stabilisers, such as lithium, alone. However, antidepressants are commonly used alongside a mood stabiliser or antipsychotic. Once the correct treatment has been established, people suffering from bipolar can go on to live as normal a life as possible.

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