People developing bipolar disorder will have periods of very low mood (depression) and periods where they feel very happy, have lots of ideas and are driven by endless energy

Teenagers talking together

People in a manic state forget to eat and ignore the need for sleep. They may spend large amounts of money on things they normally would not buy. Symptoms of bipolar disorder are severe and very different from normal ups and downs. Some people refer to bipolar disorder as ‘manic depression’.

There are different types of bipolar disorder. The exact causes of bipolar disorders are still unknown, but it is thought that a combination of factors such as extreme stress, life changing events, as well as genetic and chemical factors play a role in its onset.

Bipolar disorders are treatable and change throughout a lifetime. They can be successfully treated with ‘mood stabilisers’, talking therapy and advice on regular life style, diet and sleep. As bipolar disorder symptoms in teens can result in damaged relationships, it is important to consider offering therapy support for part or all of the family in addition to individual talking therapy.

Top tips

  • Talk to others: This can help you to make sense of your condition and your experience of it. Don’t be ashamed to talk about your illness. Think, if Stephen Fry can talk about it and live a successful life, I can do it too.
  • Keep a regular routine: Such as eating meals at the same time every day and going to sleep at the same time every night.
  • Early warnings: Learn about ‘early warning signs’ of your illness.
  • Peer support: Look for a peer support group as it may be easier for a group member to see your ‘early warning signs’ than for you to see them yourself.
  • Medication: If you are prescribed medication for bipolar disorder, it is important that you take it regularly for your treatment and discuss unwanted side effects with your doctor.
  • Talk to a professional about treatment options and how to monitor progress. 

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Top apps

  • eMoods – A free mood tracker app which lets you easily chart your daily highs and lows, sleep, medications, and other symptoms related to bipolar and other common mood disorders.

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