Living with Bipolar disorder in Cornwall

Depression Image copyright Thinkstock

Bipolar disorder is sometimes called manic depression, it can affect a person's moods and make them swing from one extreme to another.

If you have bipolar disorder you will have episodes of depression and mania.

In the depressive episode, the mood change is sustained for at least two weeks, often longer.

In the manic episode, the mood change is sustained for at least one week, but often longer.

On Wednesday 5 October, BBC Radio Cornwall's Lunchtime Programme, presented by Laurence Reed, looked at bipolar disorder, with a team of experts.

To hear the programme again, visit the BBC iplayer

People in Cornwall who suffer from the mental illness, bipolar disorder, are being urged to seek medical help.

One man, Andy, lost his job because of the condition. He said support is available for people who struggle with its emotional highs and lows.

Andy said: "I had the capacity to work more, do the work of two people. I felt superhuman, I had ideas to cure world peace in the Middle East.

"I felt I was able to achieve impossible things. I was up and down for years and years."

The Cornwall Partnership NHS Foundation Trust said if an episode of mania or depression becomes very severe, people may develop psychotic symptoms, seeing and hearing things which aren't real.

Andy said: "They brought on the voices I used to hear, aural hallucinations, the visual hallucinations, I saw the ghosts of two particular people.

"I now know that was as a result of the bipolar disorder."

Bipolar disorder is a relatively common condition. About one person in 100 is diagnosed with the condition.

It can occur at any age, although it often develops in people who are between 18-24 years of age. Anyone can develop bipolar disorder.

The pattern of mood swings varies widely between individuals. Some people will only have a couple of episodes in their lifetime, while others may experience many episodes.

Bipolar treatments

The majority of people can be treated using a combination of different treatments. These include:

  • Medicines to prevent episodes of mania and depression. These are known as mood stabilisers and are taken daily on a long-term basis.
  • Medicines to treat the main symptoms of depression and mania, as and when they occur
  • Learning to recognise things that trigger an episode of depression or mania
  • Learning to recognise the signs of an approaching episode

More information is available from the Cornwall Partnership NHS Foundation Trust's bipolar factsheet

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