Signs and symptoms of bipolar disorder

Bipolar disorder, or manic-depressive illness, is a mental health condition characterised by extreme mood, energy, and activity shifts. People with bipolar disorder experience periods of intense emotional highs, known as manic episodes, and periods of depressive episodes.


What is a manic episode?

During manic episodes, individuals may feel elated, euphoric, or irritable. In addition, they may have a heightened sense of self-confidence, exhibit rapid and excessive speech, have racing thoughts, engage in impulsive behaviours, and experience a decreased need for sleep. Manic episodes can be severe, leading to impaired judgment, risky behaviours, and difficulties in personal and professional relationships.

What is a depressive episode?

Depressive episodes in bipolar disorder are similar to those in major depressive disorder. Individuals may experience persistent sadness, hopelessness, low energy levels, and a loss of interest in activities they once enjoyed. They may have difficulty concentrating, experience changes in appetite and sleep patterns, feel guilty or worthless, and have thoughts of death or suicide.

Managing bipolar disorder

Bipolar disorder is a chronic condition that typically requires lifelong management. The exact cause is not fully understood, but it is believed to involve a combination of genetic, biological, and environmental factors. It can occur at any age, but symptoms often appear in late adolescence or early adulthood.

Treatment for bipolar disorder may involve a combination of medication, such as mood stabilisers or antipsychotics, psychotherapy, and counselling support. Mood stabilisers can be used to help prevent or manage extreme mood swings. At the same time, psychotherapy, such as cognitive-behavioural therapy, can assist individuals in managing their symptoms, identifying triggers, and developing coping strategies.

Can counselling be helpful for someone with bipolar disorder?

Yes, counselling can be beneficial for individuals with bipolar disorder. While medication is often considered crucial in managing the condition, therapy or counselling can provide additional support and help individuals develop coping strategies to better manage their symptoms and improve their overall well-being.

Counselling for bipolar disorder typically involves various therapeutic approaches, including:


This involves learning about bipolar disorder, its symptoms, triggers, and treatment options. It helps individuals understand their condition better, empowering them to take an active role in their treatment.

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)

CBT focuses on identifying and changing negative thought patterns and behaviours that contribute to mood disturbances. It helps individuals recognise and challenge distorted thinking, develop healthier coping strategies, and manage stressors that can trigger mood episodes.

Interpersonal and social rhythm therapy (IPSRT)

IPSRT focuses on stabilising daily routines and sleep patterns, as disruptions in these areas can trigger mood episodes. It also addresses interpersonal issues and helps individuals improve their relationships and communication skills.

Family-focused therapy

This type of therapy involves the individual with bipolar disorder and their family members. It aims to educate family members about bipolar disorder, improve communication within the family, and teach them how to support their loved ones.

Counselling can provide a safe space for individuals with bipolar disorder to express their thoughts and emotions, develop strategies to manage stress and explore ways to improve their overall quality of life. It is often used with medication as part of a comprehensive treatment plan for bipolar disorder. However, individuals need to work with a qualified mental health professional with experience in treating bipolar disorder to ensure they receive appropriate care.

Can Hope Therapy & Counselling Services help with your bipolar disorder?

Hope has an extensive team of counsellors, many of which have immediate availability. So if you are looking for a counsellor experienced in supporting your bipolar disorder, simply get in touch to learn more.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Counselling Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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Wantage OX12 & Rickmansworth WD3
Written by Hope Therapy & Counselling Services, Offering Counselling, CBT, Hypnotherapy, EMDR & Mindfulness.
Wantage OX12 & Rickmansworth WD3

Ian Stockbridge is the founder and lead counsellor at Hope Therapy and Counselling Services. 

As an experienced Counsellor, Ian recognised a huge societal need for therapeutic services that were often not being met. As such the 'Hope Agency'was born and its counselling team now offers counselling and therapeutic support throughout the UK.

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