Bipolar disorder (previously known as manic depression) describes a more serious condition where mood becomes unstable and affects the person’s ability to function.
About 1% of our community has this condition and it affects equal numbers of men and women. Bipolar disorder and depression tend to run in families.
Bipolar disorder has some additional symptoms apart from depression. A person with bipolar will have days or weeks of depression (low mood) and at other times will have days or weeks of high energy. This high energy is often a positive experience for the person but may lead to difficulties in relationships. The high energy state often leads to sleeping less than 5 hours a night for a period longer than a week; sometimes those with bipolar may only sleep 1-3 hours and feel like they no longer need sleep.
In Australia, it takes an average of 10 years after the first episode for an individual to be diagnosed with this condition. In part this is because of lack of awareness in the community about the disorder. Often those with bipolar have had very successful lives with times of depression versus creativity.
Treatment usually involves counselling to improve social supports and medication for helping with mood. Social support is very important and structuring a healthy routine can decrease the impact of episodes and improve functioning in the long term. One of the most effective treatments for bipolar is Interpersonal Social Rhythms Therapy (IPSRT) or therapies that focus on family functioning and psycho-education.
Author: Vivian Jarrett MAPS, MAICD, B Psych (hon), GCert (ResCom)
***Finalist Telstra Business Women’s Awards Qld – Entrepreneur
Vivian Jarrett is a psychologist, passionate about providing high quality psychology services to Australians from all walks of life.
She has worked extensively with women, especially during pregnancy and the ante-natal period.