06.06.2013 What is Bipolar Disorder ?

Bipolar disorder (also known as bipolar affective disorder, manic-depressive disorder, or manic depression) is a psychiatric diagnosis for a mood disorder.  Individuals with bipolar disorder experience episodes of a frenzied state known as mania, typically alternating with episodes of depression.

At the lower levels of mania, known as hypomania, individuals appear energetic and excitable and may in fact be highly productive.  At a higher level, individuals begin to behave erratically and impulsively, often making poor decisions due to unrealistic ideas about the future, and may have great difficulty with sleep. 

At the highest level, individuals can experience extreme distorted beliefs about the world known as psychosis.  Individuals who experience manic episodes also commonly experience depressive episodes; some experience a mixed state in which features of both mania and depression are present at the same time.  Manic and depressive episodes typically last from a few days to several months and can be interspersed by periods of normal mood.

In bipolar disorder, people experience abnormally elevated (manic or hypomanic) mood states which interfere with the functions of ordinary life.  Many people with bipolar disorder also experience periods of depressed mood, but this is not universal.  There is no simple physiological test to confirm the disorder.  Diagnosing bipolar disorder is often difficult, even for mental health professionals. In particular, it can be difficult to distinguish depression caused by bipolar disorder from pure unipolar depression.

To provide further awareness and a better understanding of bipolar disorder, you can find quite an amount of information via the NHS choices website:



You may also find useful supporting information and relating advice from your Employee Assistance Programme (EAP).  Simply call the EAP freephone number to seek confidential help and advice.  If your organisation does not yet have an EAP in-place, your HR Department can request a quotation from Workforce Wellness.

EAP quotations can be requested via



Posted 06/06/13, general information only as can be found within the public domain.

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