Living with Bipolar and Depression



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To Your Wellness & Recovery,
Peter Guess : B.Soc.Sc.(Social Work)
9 April 2015

Click here and email me to get Your Free eBook - "Understanding and Treating Bipolar Disorders"

What Is Bipolar Disorder? Video by Dr Erdelyi


Bipolar disorder, was once called manic depression, is often misunderstood and frequently misrepresented in the popular media. In this video, Dr. Erdelyi explains what Bipolar disorder really is and the various types.

Bipolar Overview - Video by:


Causes, signs, and treatment of bipolar disorder. Watch this and more health videos at:

My Basic Recommended Text Books

How Do I Know I Have Bipolar Mood Disorder (BMD)?

Generally, Bipolar Mood Disorder (BMD) is characterised by changes in energy, behaviour, thought and mood. BMD has signs of alternating high and low periods, whereas a person with depression has recurring lows. 

Bipolar I has the more classic highs (mania) and lows (depression), whereas Bipolar II has the less severe highs, called hypomania, with a more frequent pattern of depression. Bipolar II is often misdiagnosed as depression because of the more subtle form of hypomania. 

Often the person with Bipolar II hides the symptoms of hypomania from the health professional or confuses the signs with depression. Sometimes even medical doctors and psychiatrists miss the signs of hypomania. Cyclothymia is a milder form of bipolar with highs and lows that are less severe. Dysthymia is a low, depressed mood present more of the time than not.

For more detailed information get the
FREE ebook "Understanding and Treating Bipolar Disorder". Click here

Signs of the Depressive Periods of Bipolar

  • Sad, empty, hopeless, irritable or tearful feelings most of the day, nearly every day
  • No interest in or pleasure from activities once enjoyed
  • Major changes in appetite or body weight
  • Insomnia or sleeping too much
  • Feelings of restlessness or being slowed don
  • Fatigue, exhaustion, lack of energy
  • Feelings of worthlessness or excessive guilt
  • Inability to concentrate or make decisions
  • Thoughts of death or suicide (for me, years ago, I just felt so overwhelmed and wanted not to exist)

Signs of the Manic Periods of Bipolar

  • Feeling overly high, energetic, better than good or unusually irritable for at least one week
  • Inflated self-esteem, feeling like you can do anything
  • Decreased need for sleep without feeling tired
  • Talking more than usual, feeling pressure to keep talking (called pressured speech)
  • Racing thoughts, many ideas coming all at once (called flight of ideas)
  • Distracted easily, thoughts or statements jumping from topic-to-topic
  • Increase in goal-oriented activity, restlessness (e.g. I tend to initiate multiple projects with great energy all at once and later I'm unable to follow them through)
  • Jumping from one task to another, sometimes in rapid succession
  • Excessive pursuit of pleasure (e.g. financial or sexual without considering consequences)
  • High risk behaviour (e.g. substance abuse, promiscuity, driving fast and/or recklessly)
  • Unusual “spiritual” experiences and in some cases associated psychotic experiences (e.g. delusions, paranoia)

Signs of the Hypomanic Periods in Bipolar

  • Feel unusually confident
  • Need less sleep
  • Unusually talkative
  • Thoughts come and go faster than normal
  • More easily distracted or trouble concentrating
  • More goal-oriented in work, home or school
  • More involved in pleasurable or high risk activities, such as gambling, spending or sex
  • Doing and saying things that are out of character
  • Other people say you're acting strangely or you're not yourself

Get Your Screening Test

Click here to do your screening test for depression

Click here to do your screening test for mania

What causes Bipolar?

It is a neuro-chemical disorder. You did not cause it, you cannot cure it and you cannot control it, but you can manage it. It is highly treatable although it may take time to find the best mix of medication and lifestyle change that will bring you into balance.

BMD often runs in families, indicating a genetic predisposition and risk to the illness. An underlying trigger leads to natural brain chemicals becoming unbalanced leading to mood swings and the other thought and behavioural irregularities.

It is not “just in your mind” - as many people may tell you. It remains a life-threatening illness and therefore it is imperative that you find a treatment plan and medical practitioner that works for you.

Your health is your responsibility! Stay the course, working closely with your doctor and get support from a local support group and support systems online. Educate yourself fully about this condition and the various forms of medication and their possible side-effects.

Main sources:

  1. DBSA – Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance at
  2. Roller Coaster Ride Of Bipolar, Dr Karen Koch: an article in People magazine, 4 June 2010

Have You Taken The Positive Thinking Quiz Yet?

Bipolar Mood Disorder: Basic Types

This is a short introduction to the basic descriptions of Bipolar I, II and two other types.

Bipolar I

Bipolar I is known as the classic bipolar with the clear or classic symptoms of mania (e.g. very high energy and/or libido and/or elated mood, racing thoughts, feelings of invincibility or high confidence, agitation, extreme irritability) or a mixed episode (mania and depression). The manic or mixed episode may lead to hospitalisation.

Usually (after the manic episode) the person also experiences depression (e.g. perpetual feelings of emptiness, worry, loss of interest in normal activities, lethargy or low energy, changes in eating and/or sleeping patterns, suicidal thoughts). 

Rather than providing more content I have found a relevant site (the National Institute of Mental Health or NIMH) that provides a great overview of Bipolar with short definitions of Bipolar I and II. Two other types of Bipolar are identified as:

  • Bipolar Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (BP-NOS) and
  • Cyclothymic Disorder.

Here is the link to the section on the NIMH (National Institute of Mental Health) site.

Bipolar II

What follows is an tremendous article from Bipolar Survivors in South Africa called "Some Info on Bipolar II" written by Michelle van der Ryst who has kindly given me the permission to post it here.

Some Info on Bipolar II
March 14 2009

Bipolar II is a psychiatric disorder that involves mood swings from depressed to hypomanic states. Unlike bipolar I, also called manic depression, bipolar II does not involve manic states. However, like bipolar I, the person afflicted suffers from varying degrees of mood. Bipolar II may create depression or anxiety so great that risk of suicide is increased over those who suffer from Bipolar I.

In order to properly diagnose Bipolar II, patients and their doctors must be able to recognize what constitutes hypomania. People in a hypomanic state may experience increased anxiety, sleeplessness, good mood, or irritability. The hypomanic state can last for four days or longer, and patients will note a significant difference in feelings from when they are in a depressed state.

Hypomania may also cause people to feel more talkative, result in inflated self-esteem, make people feel as though their thoughts are racing, and in some cases result in rash choices, such as indiscriminate sexual activity or inappropriate spending sprees. Often, the person who feels anxious or irritable and also has bouts of depression is diagnosed with anxiety disorder with depression, or merely anxiety disorder. As such, they do not receive the proper treatment, because if given an anti-depressant alone, the hypomanic state can progress to a manic state, or periods of rapid cycling of mood can occur and cause further emotional disturbance.

Manic states differ from hypomania because perception of self is generally so deluded as to cause a person to act unsafely and take actions potentially permanently destructive to one’s relationships. Additionally, the manic person may be either paranoid or delusional. Those with mania may feel they are invincible. High manic states often require hospitalization to protect the patient from hurting himself or others.

Conversely, hypomanic patients may find themselves extremely productive and happy during hypomanic periods. This can further complicate diagnosis. If a patient is taking anti-depressants, hypomania may be thought of as a sign that the anti-depressants are working.

Ultimately, though, those with bipolar II find that anti-depressants alone do not provide relief, particularly since anti-depressants can aggravate the condition. Another hallmark of bipolar II is rapid cycling between depressed and hypomanic states. If this symptom is misdiagnosed, sedatives may be added to anti-depressants, further creating mood dysfunction.

The frequent misdiagnosis of bipolar II likely creates more risk of suicidal tendencies during depressed states. Patients legitimately trying to seek treatment may feel initial benefits from improper medication, but then bottom out when treatments no longer work. The fact that multiple medications may be tried before the correct diagnosis is made can fuel despair and depression.

Depression associated with either bipolar I or II is severe. In many cases, depression creates an inability to function normally. Patients suffering from major depression describe feeling as though things will never feel right again.

Severely depressed patients may not leave their homes or their beds. Appetite can significantly increase or decrease. Sleeping patterns may be disrupted, and people may sleep much longer than usual.

This type of depression does not respond to reason or talking it out, because it is of chemical origin. Though therapy can improve the way a person deals with depression, it cannot remove chemically based depression. Because of what seems an inescapable mood and a feeling that things will never improve, patients frequently contemplate and often attempt suicide.

Once accurate diagnosis is made, treatment consists of many of the same medications used to treat bipolar I. These medications typically include mood stabilizers like lithium or anticonvulsants like carbamazepine (tegretol®), and many people also benefit from a low dose of an antidepressant. Those with bipolar II rarely need antipsychotic medications since they are not prone to psychotic symptoms or behavior. Even with appropriate medication, it may take some time to stabilize a patient and find the right dosage. When patients have demonstrated suicidal tendencies, hospitalization may be necessary to provide a safe environment where medications can be adjusted accordingly.

When medication is combined with cognitive behavioral therapy, patients seem to respond more quickly and have the most success. Though bipolar II is not thought to be caused by traumatic events, such factors as a history of abuse can affect recovery. By approaching bipolar II with both therapy and medication, the patient is likely to recover fully.

With treatment, those with bipolar I or II can live healthy normal lives and attain success in work and relationships. Many anticonvulsant medications are related to a high incidence of birth defects, however. Patients who are on medication and considering a pregnancy should seek the advice of both their psychiatrist and obstetrician before becoming pregnant.

Thanks again to Michelle for this contribution.

Peter Guess

Email: [email protected]

Schizoaffective Disorder - A More Severe Form of Bipolar


A YouTube vlogger shares "Things I do when I'm psychotic..." This video is particularly good as it shows the gray area often between mania with psychotic symptoms and schizoaffective disorder. Schizoaffective Disorder is the presence of Schizophrenia with either Bipolar or Major Depression. 

Do Your Screening Test Here

What is Bipolar? Am I Bipolar?

To take your assessment by clicking the link below: 

 Take a Confidential Online Mood Disorder Screening

The screening test is hosted by DBSA (Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance)




Here are a few other key websites with concise explanations. Click the links below:


You can also go to the Question & Answer page and post a question or comment. We'd love to hear from you. It's your site.

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