Bipolar disorder/Manic depression
Bipolar disorder is a brain disorder also known as manic depression, which causes a persons mood to frequently jump from intense highs to unbearable lows. This does not mean the highs and lows of usual life but severe changes that can damage relationships and even lead to suicide. These contrasting periods are known as episodes of mania and depression. The disorder usually develops during the late teenage years to early adulthood but is sometimes not recognized for years after the illness has began. Bipolar disorder affects millions of people and is treatable, however, there is no definite cure and this is a long-term illness that must be carefully managed and kept under control during a person's life.
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Difference between bipolar and manic depression
The original name for this illness was manic depression but it is now known as bipolar disorder. This is because bipolar means two poles, specifying the two extremes this disorder consists of. This illness can make it extremely difficult for a person to experience a regular mood, as there is no middle ground.
A manic episode or depressive episode is diagnosed if three or more of the mood symptoms below occur nearly every day for at least a week.
Symptoms of bipolar disorder
|Manic Episode||Depressive Episode|
|Increase in energy and activity||Lasting sad or anxious mood|
|Extreme irritability||Feeling guilty or helpless|
|Racing thoughts, fast talking jumping from idea to idea||Loss of interest or pleasure in activities|
|Finds it hard to concentrate||Decreased energy, tiredness and irritability|
|Little sleep needed||Difficulty concentrating|
|Unrealistic thoughts about their abilities or powers||Change in appetite|
|A lasting period of behaviour that is different from usual||Sleeping too much, or can't sleep|
|Intrusive or aggressive behaviour||Chronic pain or other persistent bodily symptoms|
|Denial of anything being wrong||Thoughts of death or suicide|
Bipolar disorder statistics
Most studies give a lifetime prevalence of 1 per cent for bipolar disorder and equal prevalence rates for men and women. However, hospital admission rates are much higher owing to the recurrent nature of the illness, although it is estimated that 20 per cent of people who have a first episode of manic depression do not get another.
What should I be looking for in a counsellor or psychotherapist?
Although qualified counsellors and psychotherapists do not have to have a specific level of training to treat bipolar disorder, it can be reassuring to know they have experience working in this area.
Professionals best equipped to deal with bipolar disorder will have accredited qualifications in one or more of the following therapies recommended by The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE):
- Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)
- Interpersonal therapy (IPT)
- Dynamic interpersonal therapy (DIT)
Read the full NICE guidelines:
Whilst you browse counsellors, don't hesitate to send email enquiries asking for details of their experience with past bipolar clients. Their response should give you a feel for whether they are the right professional for you.
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