Bipolar is characterised by periods of mania and bouts of depression. These two extremes (the two ‘poles’ in bipolar) can be separated by periods that are free of symptoms.
Bipolar used to be known as ‘manic depression’. Manic and maniac are words that are hugely stigmatised and misunderstood. A manic episode can present as feeling energised, irritable, elated, unstoppable and like the sufferer has a decreased need for food or sleep. But this ‘high’ can be just as destructive as the opposite ‘low’.
One common hallmark of bipolar is that sufferers are not aware of these changes, even though they can seem intense to those around them. It’s very important for coworkers and loved ones of someone experiencing bipolar to educate themselves about the disorder and communicate openly. This Help Guide is the perfect starting point to do that.
Depression is, in the simplest sense, low mood. When this persists for more than two weeks, it is formally known as Major Depressive Disorder.
Depression is more than just being sad. It impacts a sufferer’s ability to enjoy life and gives them an aversion to activity, even activities they used to enjoy. The disorder can be influenced by biological, psychological and social factors.
Depression symptoms vary in type and severity. Look out for weight changes, irritability, a hopeless outlook and fatigue. Depression can lead to suicide ideation and taking one’s own life, but not everyone with depression experiences this all the time.
There are simple self-assessments online to give those living with the signs of depression the light-bulb moment that things are not okay or normal, such as the NHS’s depression self-assessment tool. However, everyone should go to their GP as soon as the symptoms interfere with their life.
📈 Data point
According to The Mental Health Foundation, mixed anxiety and depression is the most common mental health disorder in the U.K. with 7.8% of people meeting the diagnosis criteria.