Loddon Healthy Minds Network

Bipolar Disorder or Manic Depression

Bipolar Disorder of Manic Depression
Picture by SherriW1223 Flickr

Whilst many people are becoming more familiar with the term bipolar disorder, many may know it by its old name of manic depression.

Bipolar disorder is a mental illness that touches on the extremes of the emotions and in turn can result in some strange behaviour by those who have this disorder.

It is quite normal, as you would well know, that our emotions rise and fall. We can feel sad, we can feel elated, we can feel inbetween. For the bipolar person, the emotions tend to rise and fall well beyond the range of the “normal” person. So people with bipolar can fluctuate between the extremities of elation, known as mania or hypermania and the other side of the coin which is depression.

Bipolar can be difficult to diagnose as people don't usually present themselves for medical assistance in the height of a manic phase. They are generally feeling too good, at least with hypermania anyway. People in a full blown manic phase will obviously be unwell to others around them and intervention is usually sought.

But for the most part, the bipolar person presents at the doctors with a bout of depression. The way our medical system is these days and the pressure on doctors, depression is what is usually diagnosed and appropriate anti-depressants prescibed. The anti-depressants usually fix the depression, but the individual then swings to a high.  This can go on for quite some time until specialist psychiatric services are sought who do a full assessment and diagnose bipolar disorder. When this happens, the anti-depressants are usually stopped and mood stabilizers are introduced in their place in an attempt to limit the extremes of the emotions and bring them back within acceptable ranges.

Bipolar disorder involves mood swings
Picture by AdamNF on Flickr

Bipolar disorder is a complex subject and all people tend to present differently. Whilst there are many symptoms, not all will necessarily apply to each individual. This can be why it can be difficult to diagnose. That said, psychiatrists are skilled at doing so and if you are being treated for depression and it's coming and going with periods of highs inbetween, then perhaps you need to consider asking for a referral to see a psychiatrist.

For more information on Bipolar Disorder you can visit the sites below. The links will take you directly to their pages on Bipolar Disorder.

Black Dog Institute Bipolar Page

Sane Australia Bipolar Information Sheet

Beyond Blue Bipolar Information

Fyrenice - An Extensive Australian Site including support compiled and run and participated in by people with bipolar disorder

Need Help Now?

If you need help now, talk to a friend, a family member or call your Doctor immediately. Alternately, you can contact the numbers below:

If life or property is threatened, call 000 immediately

Bendigo Mental Health Team - 1300 363 788. This is a 24/7 service.

Lifeline - 13 11 14

You can also check more specific contacts on our Mental Health Contact Pages
You are here: