What is bipolar disorder?

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What is bipolar disorder?

Bipolar disorder is a chronic mental health condition with strong changes in mood and energy. One in 50 (1.8%) adult Australians experience bipolar disorder each year.

Bipolar disorder, also known as manic-depressive illness, is a brain disorder that causes unusual shifts in mood, energy, activity levels, and the ability to carry out day-to-day tasks.

People experiencing bipolar disorder can have:

  • depressive episodes: low mood, feelings of hopelessness, extreme sadness and lack of interest and pleasure in things
  • manic or hypomanic episodes: extremely high mood and activity or agitation, racing thoughts, little need for sleep and rapid speech.

These changes in mood can last a week or more, and affect our thoughts and behaviour.

Bipolar disorder needs long-term management, which may include medication and psychological therapies. Bipolar disorder affects how we are able to function in our everyday life. Untreated, it makes it hard to consistently cope at work, home, school or socially.

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