Bipolar Disorder isn’t a rare diagnosis, it is thought that about 2.5% of the population suffers from this illness. People with Bipolar Disorder may have trouble managing everyday life tasks, at school or at work, as well as maintaining relationships. Although it is a lifelong condition, Bipolar Disorder can be managed effectively with a good treatment plan.

What are the signs & symptoms 
of Bipolar Disorder?

  • Extreme mood swings
  • Mania and hypomania
  • Depression
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All of Papillon’s residents follow their own Individual Treatment Plan that is used to guide their progress through the three Rehabilitation Blocks: Self-System Development; Trauma Processing; and Reintegration. The result is a personalised and holistic approach to each of our residents’ mental recovery with the goal of sustainable reintegration at the end of their 3-month stay.
Bipolar Disorder is usually treated with a combination of medication and counselling. At Papillon, we add psychotherapy to our treatment plan to help patients find ways to deal with Bipolar Disorder and the effect it has on their lives.
At Papillon, we teach our patients how to cope with difficult feelings, manage stress, and rebuild relationships, providing full support and guidance along the way.
Some specific psychotherapy treatments used at Papillon include:
  • Cognitive therapy: This therapy involves earning to identify and change harmful or negative patterns of thinking.
  • Interpersonal and Social Rhythm therapy: This therapy helps people with Bipolar Disorder manage their daily routines and relationships
  • Family-focused therapy: Helps family members learn coping strategies to help themselves and their loved ones. It also assists in improving communication in families.
  • Psychoeducation: Teaches patients how to recognise warning signs so they can get help and treatment before they have a serious episode. Research has shown that psychoeducation leads to fewer relapses and hospitalisation rates, as well as a faster recovery rate.

Bipolar disorder is a mental health condition characterised by extreme mood swings that include emotional highs (mania or hypomania) and lows (depression). Bipolar I and Bipolar II are two forms of bipolar disorder, each with its own distinct patterns of symptoms.


Bipolar I Disorder

This type is distinguished by at least one manic episode lasting at least a week or severe enough to necessitate hospitalisation. Manic episodes are defined as periods of abnormally elevated, expansive, or irritable mood, as well as increased activity or energy.

During a manic episode, symptoms may include inflated self-esteem, decreased sleep need, talkativeness, racing thoughts, distractibility, increased goal-directed activity, or risky behaviour.

Depressive episodes, which typically last at least two weeks, are also common. Mixed-symptom depression (having depression and manic symptoms at the same time) is also possible.


Bipolar II Disorder

This type is characterized by at least one major depressive episode and at least one hypomanic episode, but the individual has never had a full manic episode.

Hypomanic episodes are similar to manic episodes but are less severe and shorter in duration. During a hypomanic episode, an individual may feel euphoric, have lots of energy, and be highly productive.

Major depressive episodes in Bipolar II can be more severe and longer-lasting than in Bipolar I.

In both types, episodes of mania, hypomania, or depression can be followed by periods of normal mood. However, the severity of manic episodes in Bipolar I can result in more serious functional impairment or hospitalization compared to Bipolar II. It’s important to note that both conditions are serious, long-term, and treatable mental health conditions.


What Are the General Signs & Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder?

The symptoms vary during the manic and depressive phase:


Manic Phase Symptoms

  • Extreme happiness, hopefulness, and excitement: This is characterised by euphoria, in which the individual feels excessively joyful and enthusiastic.
  • The individual may have a quick temper and become easily irritated.
  • Restlessness: The individual may feel the need to move and be active all the time.
  • Agitation: The individual may feel restless and unsettled.
  • Rapid speech: The individual may speak quickly and jump from one idea to the next.
  • The person may struggle to focus and make poor decisions.
  • Increased energy: The individual may experience excessive energy.
  • Less sleep is required: The person may feel fully rested after only a few hours of sleep.
  • Unusual sex drive: The individual may have a strong desire for sexual activity.
  • Setting unrealistic goals: The individual may set ambitious but unattainable goals.
  • Individuals suffering from paranoia may have irrational suspicions or mistrust of others.


Depressive Phase Symptoms

During a depressive phase, an individual may:

  • Experience intense sadness and frequently cry.
  • Have a negative self-image and feel guilty for no reason.
  • Feel tired all of the time.
  • No longer find pleasure in activities that were once pleasurable.
  • Struggle to concentrate and make decisions.
  • Be easily irritated.
  • Sleep too much or have difficulty sleeping.
  • Eat too much or too little.
  • Lose or gain weight without consciously attempting to do so.
  • Consider or attempt suicide.


Bipolar Disorder Causes and Pre-Dispositions

Bipolar disorder is a complex condition and its exact cause is unknown. However, several factors may contribute to its development:



Bipolar disorder tends to run in families. If you have an adult relative with either bipolar I or bipolar II disorder, you have an average of 10 times the chance of developing the condition yourself.

The American Psychiatric Association also reports that 80 to 90% of people with bipolar disorder have a relative living with either depression or bipolar disorder. Researchers have linked two key genes to bipolar disorder, but they note that many other genes are likely to factor in too.


Biological Differences

People with bipolar disorder appear to have physical changes in their brains. The significance of these changes is still uncertain but may eventually help pinpoint causes.

Brain Chemistry

There is some evidence that bipolar disorder may be associated with chemical imbalances in the brain.

Environmental Factors

Physical illness, sleep disturbances, and overwhelming problems in everyday life, such as problems with money, work, or relationships, can also contribute to the onset of bipolar disorder.


Co-Occurring Conditions

Conditions that co-occur with bipolar disorder can also contribute to its development.

It’s important to note that these factors don’t directly cause bipolar disorder but can trigger mood episodes in people who are genetically predisposed to the condition. The condition usually develops from a combination of these factors.


Myths About Bipolar Disorder

Here are some common myths about bipolar disorder, along with the true facts:


Myth: Bipolar Disorder Is a Rare Condition

People may believe this because they don’t often meet individuals who openly admit to having the disorder.


Bipolar disorder is a common mental health condition, affecting millions of people. It’s estimated that up to 2.1% of the population will experience bipolar disorder in their lifetime.


Myth: There’s Only One Kind of Bipolar Disorder

The public often has a simplified understanding of mental health conditions, but there are multiple types of bipolar disorder, each with its own unique features.


The subtypes of bipolar disorder include Bipolar Disorder I, Bipolar Disorder II, Cyclothymia, and Rapid Cycling.


Myth: Mood Swings Always Indicate Bipolar Disorder

People often confuse normal mood swings with the severe mood changes seen in bipolar disorder, but the highs and lows of bipolar disorder are very different from common mood swings.


People with bipolar disorder experience extreme changes in energy, activity, and sleep that are not typical for them.


Myth: People with Bipolar Disorder Switch Frequently Between Manic & Depressed Moods

This myth is perpetuated by media portrayals of the disorder. While some people with bipolar disorder do have rapid cycling, many do not.


The frequency of mood changes can vary widely among individuals. Even a diagnosis of rapid-cycling bipolar disorder requires several days in a row of (hypo)manic symptoms, not just several hours.


Myth: Mania Is a Happy, Fun Feeling

People often misunderstand mania as simply being overly happy.


Mania can be a very uncomfortable, distressing, and even dangerous state. It can lead to impulsive behaviour, poor decision-making, and even psychosis. Mania is characterised by periods of great excitement or euphoria, racing thoughts, a decreased need for sleep, and rapid speech.


Myth: Children Cannot Get Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder is often thought of as a condition that starts in adulthood.


While it’s most often diagnosed in older teenagers and young adults, bipolar disorder can occur in children. Early onset of bipolar disorder is more likely to occur in children who have a family history of the disorder.


Myth: Bipolar Disorder Can Be Cured Through Diet & Exercise

There’s a common misconception that lifestyle changes alone can cure mental health conditions.


While a healthy lifestyle can help manage symptoms, it’s not a cure. Bipolar disorder is a lifelong illness. It can, however, be well-managed with medication and talk therapy, by avoiding stress, and maintaining regular patterns of sleeping, eating, and exercise.


Early Warning Signs of Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder symptoms usually appear between the ages of 18 to 29 years, but they can occur at any age, including childhood and the teenage years.

Here are some early warning signs of bipolar disorder:

  • If a person has had several bouts of severe depression, this could be an early warning sign.
  • A major depressive episode at a young age can serve as an early warning sign.
  • If a person frequently feels more energetic and upbeat than others, this could be a sign of mania.
  • Changes in appetite or sleep patterns can be a precursor to bipolar disorder.

It’s important to note that these signs alone do not confirm the presence of bipolar disorder. They are potential indicators that should be discussed with a healthcare professional.


Negative Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder

Negative symptoms in bipolar disorder refer to the absence of normal behaviours. These symptoms are often associated with the depressive phase of the illness, but they can also occur during manic or hypomanic episodes:


  • Anhedonia, or the inability to feel pleasure, is a core symptom of depression, and it means that activities and hobbies that used to bring joy no longer do.
  • Apathy refers to a lack of interest or concern about things that others find moving or exciting.
  • People with bipolar disorder often have trouble focusing their attention during both manic and depressive episodes.
  • During depressive episodes, individuals with bipolar disorder may avoid social interaction. This can include not wanting to leave the house, ignoring phone calls and messages, and avoiding face-to-face interaction.
  • People with bipolar disorder may struggle with motivation, particularly during depressive episodes. This can manifest as difficulty starting tasks, struggling to follow through on responsibilities, or a lack of drive to engage in usual activities.
  • During severe depressive episodes, individuals with bipolar disorder may neglect basic personal care habits like bathing, brushing teeth, or changing clothes.
  • Some people with bipolar disorder may speak slowly and have long pauses in their conversations during depressive episodes.
  • Individuals with bipolar disorder may experience a decrease in libido, particularly during depressive episodes.


How Bipolar Disorder is Diagnosed

It’s important to note that diagnosing bipolar disorder can be complex and requires a thorough evaluation by a qualified mental health professional.

Bipolar disorder is identified by medical professionals through a comprehensive evaluation process, comprising the following:

  • A doctor will take a detailed history of the patient’s symptoms, including their duration, severity, and impact on the patient’s life. They will also ask about any family history of similar conditions.
  • The doctor may perform a physical exam and lab tests to identify any medical problems that could be causing the symptoms.
  • The doctor may refer the patient to a psychiatrist, who will talk to them about their thoughts, feelings, and behaviour patterns. The patient may also fill out a psychological self-assessment or questionnaire. With the patient’s permission, family members or close friends may be asked to provide information about the patient’s symptoms.
  • The patient may be asked to keep a daily record of their moods, sleep patterns, or other factors that could help with diagnosis and finding the right treatment.
  • A psychiatrist will compare the patient’s symptoms with the criteria for bipolar and related disorders.
Not sure we can help you? Our elite team of psychiatrists, occupational therapists, nurses and facilitators are qualified to treat a range of mental illnesses. In fact, our programme has successfully helped people with:

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