Impact of bipolar disorder

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What is the impact of bipolar disorder on those living with the illness?

As a carer or someone living with bipolar disorder, it’s important to be aware that having bipolar disorder can present challenges.

Manic episodes can be very disruptive and lead to conflicts with family, friends and at work.

During a manic phase, people can become aggressive or impulsive. This can lead to risky behaviour, relationship breakdowns, financial problems and even legal issues if someone behaves erratically as part of their condition.

People with bipolar disorder have 15 times greater a risk of suicide than the general population, accounting for up to 25% of all suicides.

Bipolar disorder has other health consequences, and can often occur alongside other conditions such as diabetes, anxiety, cardiovascular disease, and drug and alcohol abuse.

Bipolar disorder can reduce life expectancy by up to nine years.

Bipolar disorder is a mental health condition that can be challenging to live with.

With the right treatment and help, people can manage the illness and are able to live full and productive lives.

People with bipolar disorder sometimes describe the highs associated with the illness as enjoyable. Someone experiencing mania can be in high spirits, feel amazing, enthusiastic, confident and invincible. However, others have a different experience and instead become irritable and aggressive.

Experiencing a ‘high’ has been described as a feeling that your brakes have failed – that you are going too far and too fast.

Once an episode of mania has passed, people can feel embarrassed or ashamed about what they did or said to others during their period of mania. They may avoid social contact for a time afterwards.

Someone might not remember what they did during an episode of mania, depending on the severity of the mania and on any medications that are taken.

A person who has been depressed may misread the onset of mania as a sign that their depression is lifting, rather than as another part of the illness.

The lows or depressive episodes experienced by people with bipolar disorder can be extremely difficult to cope with and are emotionally painful.

Depression can sometimes lead to suicidal thoughts.

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