Bipolar Disorder is an illness where people experience extreme changes in mood that affect the way they think and behave.
It is normal for our mood to swing up and down and to have times when we feel very happy or ‘hyper’, or very sad and low, especially when difficult things are happening in our lives. Mood fluctuations are common in young people due to the hormonal changes of puberty and changes happening in the brain at this age. This only becomes an illness when the changes in mood are extreme, may occur without any obvious cause, last a long time and start to cause problems in our lives – at school, work or in our relationships for example.
Bipolar disorder is very rare in younger children, but symptoms may start to occur in mid to late teens – around 15 – 19 years. Most people who go on to develop bipolar disorder will experience their first symptoms by the time they are 25 years old, but it may take several years to diagnose.
Bipolar is a treatable illness and with the right medications, therapy and support people affected by the illness can go to lead happy and successful lives, in fact several celebrities and high achievers have spoken publicly about their experience of bipolar disorder – most notably Stephen Fry, Demi Lovato and Carrie Fisher.
What Causes Bipolar?
The causes of bipolar are not fully understood yet although there may be a genetic link as it tends to run in families. Other factors that may increase the risk of developing bipolar disorder include experiencing severe emotional distress or trauma in childhood or having to cope with a lot of difficult life events.