learn: key facts


Key facts about bipolar disorder. We debunk common misconceptions and myths surrounding the condition.

learn: key facts


Key facts about bipolar disorder. We debunk common misconceptions and myths surrounding the condition.

So are you telling me nobody knows why I feel this way?
learn: causes and triggers

Causes of Bipolar?

Experts don’t know for sure why some people experience bipolar disorder.
Your genetics can play a part and your experiences too.

If any of your family members have experienced bipolar disorder, you’ve more change of developing it too. But scientists say no single gene can be linked to bipolar disorder.

Someone in your immediate family might live with bipolar disorder, like a parent, brother, or sister. If they do, there’s a 13 in 100 chance you will develop it too. The risk is higher if both of your parents or your twin live with the condition. For some people symptoms can be triggered by stressful things in their lives such as:

relationship problems,
physical, sexual or emotional abuse,
the death of a loved one,
physical illness,

losing your job or other work issues,
problems with sleep disturbances,
being in debt or money issues, or
witnessing a traumatic incident.

learn: fact check

Check and Verify

We’ve worked extremely hard to compile the information on SharingBipolar but we always encourage our members to fact check and deep dive anything we publish.

Why not visit our useful links page or review the references we have used in researching our content. We aim for total transparency to aid and assist the Community, let us know if we have made an error or omission.

Always do your own research …Then do some more!

Always do your own research …Then do more!

learn: key facts

Did you know?

Mood Change

Bipolar disorder is a chronic mental illness characterised by dramatic shifts in mood and behaviour.


Bipolar depressive episodes tend to look a lot like classic depression and can easily be misdiagnosed.


Manic episodes are a lot more complicated than being “up.” They can be far more destructive than depression.


Hypomania can involve many of the same symptoms of mania but on a less severe scale, again easily misdiagnosed.

Confusing Condition

People can actually experience symptoms of extreme mania and debilitating depression at the same time.

Mood Episodes

The length of mood episodes can vary from person to person, no one sufferer carries the blueprint for another.


It can take a while to receive a proper diagnosis of bipolar disorder, which is often misdiagnosed as depression.


Treatment almost always involves medication, but effective drugs and dosages vary widely by individual.


Therapy is an invaluable treatment, it can help people cope with bipolar disorder in many different ways.

Family Planning

Bipolar disorder medications can affect pregnancy and birth control. Difficult choices or strict plans have to be made.

Indescriminate Illness

Children can also have bipolar disorder. The condition is a cruel affliction, with the ability to affect anyone indiscriminately.

Indescriminate Illness

Children can also have bipolar disorder. The condition is a cruel affliction, with the ability to affect indiscriminately.

Life with Bipolar

Despite so many negative aspects. Individuals that suffer from bipolar disorder can and do lead happy, healthy lives.

How do I know what to believe? I overthink everything, everyone, says to me!
How do I know what to believe? I overthink everything, that everyone, says to me!
learn: misconceptions

Myth vs Reality

REALITY: According to the World Health Organisation the condition affects 1.3 million people in the UK, 7 million people in the US and over 60 million worldwide.

Often, it goes undiagnosed or misdiagnosed. The average time between symptom onset and diagnosis is 8-10 years, during which time symptoms can worsen and episodes can become more severe and frequent.

Some sufferers have other conditions, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), a traumatic brain injury, or even a substance use disorder, that masks symptoms or complicates a diagnosis. In some cases, bipolar disorder is misdiagnosed as anxiety, depression, schizophrenia, or borderline personality disorder – and vice versa.

An accurate diagnosis is critical, as some medications may either be ineffective or exacerbate the mood changes experienced with bipolar disorder.

Often, patients, loved ones, and general healthcare providers might not recognize that mania presenting as an extremely good mood is not normal.

REALITY: Everyone has good and bad days. But people with bipolar disorder experience higher peaks and lower valleys that can last days, weeks, or months, with or without a triggering event.

For example, if you’re enjoying dinner with friends on the patio, it’s normal to feel good. But it’s not normal to feel “winning a lottery” good. Or you might wake up one day in a really low mood that you can’t shake for days, regardless what’s going on around you.

There is no specific test to diagnose bipolar disorder. Diagnosis must be personalised based on the individual’s symptoms and family history. To be diagnosed with bipolar disorder, a person must have experienced, within 2 years; at least one episode of mania or hypomania with at least one episode of depression.

REALITY: Feelings of euphoria and invincibility can seem harmless, but for sufferers of bipolar disorder, they aren’t.

These energy-charged states can manifest themselves as:

  • Decreased need for sleep, which can last for days,
  • Distraction or restlessness,
  • Rapid speech,
  • High, insatiable sex drive,
  • Impulsivity and risk-taking, such as reckless driving or spending sprees,
  • Irrational anger or irritability, or
  • Racing or distracted thoughts.

REALITY: Individuals suffering from bipolar condition cannot control their feelings, it is caused by an unexplained chemical imbalance in the brain.

Due to lack of awareness, most don’t understand how someone that experiences mood swings can cope with their condition, whilst a bipolar disorder sufferer is unable to manage their mood changes themselves.

Very often, people are simply not aware that bipolar disorder is a serious, chronic mental disorder that requires medical treatment as well as an awful lot of effort from the sufferer themselves. It’s not something that one can just ‘get over’…

REALITY: Sadly bipolar disorder is a lifelong chronic illness.

Much like managing Type I diabetes, high blood pressure, or epilepsy, patients must continue taking their medications and follow their care plan when they are feeling well in order to maintain physical and mental health.

There is no cure for bipolar disorder, and despite advertisements suggesting otherwise, there is no single wonder-drug that can control its symptoms. Just as bipolar disorder is a cyclical condition, it’s management must also be approached with agility and consideration of each individuals lifestyle, medical history, and environment.

For most sufferers, bipolar disorder can be managed through a combination of mood-stabilising medications and complementary treatments such as psychotherapy, CBT and self-care through maintaining healthy lifestyle habits.

REALITY: Antidepressants should never be relied upon solely for the treatment of bipolar disorder.

These drugs can be used by individuals with bipolar disorder but must be carefully monitored for the emergence of mania, hypomania and mixed states. Antidepressants are most often used in conjunction with mood-stabilising medication.

Medication is an essential part of bipolar disorder treatment. There are several medications that may work best, either separately or when combined, to help stabilise your mood. However, your medications likely will change with age and life fluctuations.

Lithium is of the most widely used medication for treating bipolar disorder, although it doesn’t work for everyone. Some antipsychotic medications and anticonvulsants used to treat seizure disorders also may help manage acute symptoms and reduce the frequency or severity of manic episodes.

It may take some trial and error to find the right medicine or combinations of medication that works for you. Be honest with your doctor or physician about how you’re feeling and whether you’re experiencing any side effects. Finding the right fit is a team effort.

REALITY: While medications vary, all sufferers of bipolar disorder should follow healthy lifestyle recommendations.

These may include, but are not limited to:

  • Psychotherapy: Talking with a therapist can help you process negative thinking, manage stress, and understand how to navigate your personal triggers.
  • Sleep: With bipolar disorder, you may face the dual challenge of symptoms that make it tough to sleep, and poor sleep that worsens symptoms. Establishing and maintaining good sleep habits can improve your mental outlook and reduce symptom severity.
  • Exercise and nutrition: Eating a nutritious diet and getting regular exercise can improve depressive symptoms and help prevent episodes of mania. A recent study suggests that increasing particular fatty acids in the diet can help regulate mood in conjunction with medical treatment. Research has also shown that aerobic exercise can influence the neural pathways for sharper focus in patients with bipolar disorder.

Bipolar disorder can also be inherited. Approximately 60-80% of people with bipolar disorder have a family member who has it. However, having a family history of the condition does not automatically mean you will develop it so don’t worry.

Though there is no test to determine your familial risk, your own doctor or physician can help you create a plan to manage your stress, including advice on practical, healthy sleep habits, and help you to avoid potential triggers.