What is bipolar Disorder?

Bipolar disorder, formerly called manic depression, is a mental health condition that causes extreme mood swings that include emotional highs (mania or hypomania) and lows (depression).

When you become depressed, you may feel sad or hopeless and lose interest or pleasure in most activities. When your mood shifts to mania or hypomania (less extreme than mania), you may feel euphoric, full of energy or unusually irritable. These mood swings can affect sleep, energy, activity, judgment, behavior and the ability to think clearly.

Episodes of mood swings may occur rarely or multiple times a year. While most people will experience some emotional symptoms between episodes, some may not experience any.

Although bipolar disorder is a lifelong condition, you can manage your mood swings and other symptoms by following a treatment plan. In most cases, bipolar disorder is treated with medications and psychological counselling.

  • Depression self test

    Take the Goldberg depression rating test. This is not a diagnosis but might help you guage how severe you symptoms are and whether to seek help.

  • Mania self test

    Take the Goldberg mania rating test. This is not a diagnosis but might help you guage how severe you symptoms are and whether to seek help.

If  you are in an extreme situation dial 000 or reach out to the CAT team

If you have experienced an episode of mania or hypomania, it’s best to seek professional help as soon as possible. It may indicate that you have bipolar disorder, which, if left untreated, will likely involve further episodes of mania or hypomania. Bipolar disorder is not an illness which goes away of its own accord but which often needs long-term treatment.

A good first place to start in getting help is to visit your local general practitioner (GP). Let him or her know if you think you might have depression or bipolar disorder. Your GP will either conduct an assessment of you, or refer you to someone else, such as a psychiatrist or a psychologist.

If you are having trouble tracking down such a GP, you could telephone general practices in your area to find out whether any doctors in that practice have a particularly strong interest in mental health and, if so, whether they are taking on new patients. (Ask to speak to the practice manager.)

Check out our extensive collection of links to 24 hour help lines, self help apps and the mental health crisis teams.

Site resources

Find a meeting

For the times, dates and locations of our support group meetings, head over to our calendar.

Bipolar Life articles

Bipolar articles

Check out our vast library of articles about bipolar disorder. If you have questions, we’ve probably got the answers.

Bipolar Life video library

Bipolar videos

There are some excellent videos on bipolar disorder. We’ve highlighted several we feel are of good value.

Bipolar Life book library

Bipolar books

There are hundreds of books written about bipolar disorder. Many of these that can be borrowed from us.

Covid-19 Policy

Bipolar Life adheres to the Victorian government guidelines and mandates regarding Covid-19.

If at any point Victoria has to go into a lockdown we switch to Zoom meetings.

For further information on current regulations please go to the Victorian Government website.

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