Bipolar disorder is a term used to describe people who experience extreme highs and lows of mood over long periods of time such that this causes distress or interferes with their lives and relationships. It covers a wide spectrum of from people who are seriously unwell to those whose mood swings are moderate.
It has become a rather 'popular' diagnosis, rather unhelpful since it covers such a board range of symptoms and severity.
There is evidence that this disorder is largely the result of fluctuations in brain chemistry and has a genetic basis. These fluctuations are very individual, with wide variation in duration and severity of the manic peaks and depressive troughs.
With the creation of many new medications, advice is best sought from an experienced GP or psychiatrist to see if medication is appropriate. This may involve some trial-and-error to find a balance between benefits and side-effects.
Medication alone is seldom a complete solution and complementary approaches are often helpful including lifestyle changes, support systems and therapy.
While medication may be very successful in smoothing out the extremes, people with bipolar, like everyone else, are vulnerable to all the difficulties of life and the psychological injuries from childhood disruptions, trauma or abuse.
Weather you are on medication or not, therapy offers a safe space to seek help for the high and lows, relationships issues, grief and loss, anxiety, trauma, sexual identity, etc. For some, long-term therapy will be an important way of staying well by providing: