Mental health charity Aware has teamed up with a number of organisations worldwide in calling for increased awareness and understanding of bipolar disorder.
A new campaign from Aware aims to increase the public's understanding of bipolar disorder, a mental illness which affects up to one in 50 people in Ireland.
The Aware Living Well With Bipolar Disorder Programme, which coincides with World Bipolar Day on March 30, will provide participants with the tools to understand and manage bipolar disorder effectively.
The free programme consists of one 90 minute session per week, delivered over an eight week period, and is presented by a mental health professional.
Bipolar affects 40m people worldwide, and is characterised by extreme periods of lows and highs or mixed emotions followed by periods of normal moods.
The first signs of the disorder are often noted in late teens and early adulthood, with severe symptoms often evident.
If poorly managed or left untreated, it can result in heightening of symptoms and more frequent episodes that last longer.
Aware clinical director Dr Susan Brannick said World Bipolar Day is a “great opportunity” for mental health organisations to collaborate, bringing “global awareness” to bipolar disorder, and improve public understanding of the condition.
The organisation has encouraged people to utilise a range of resources available on their website, including free educational programmes designed for those with a diagnosis of bipolar disorder or those supporting a loved one.
Speaking about the feedback from the programme, Dr Brannick said it has been “incredibly positive”.
Due to the profound impact the disorder may have on the diagnosed behaviours, relationships, work and family life, it is crucial the family are equipped with the necessary tools to overcome any barriers that may arise.
There are a number of different types of bipolar disorder, but it usually involves two mood phases, from depressive to manic or elated phases.
Symptoms of depressive phases include anxious or guilty feelings, changes to regular sleep patterns, recurring thoughts of death or suicidal thoughts, and physical aches and pains.
Feelings ranging from elation and excitement to irritability and depression can be noted when in the manic or elated phase. Symptoms such as racing thoughts, high-self esteem, reduced need for sleep, and increased interest in pleasurable activities are also commonplace.
Aware uses the acronym' to highlight these symptoms
– sad, anxious, guilty.
– low energy, feeling tired or fatigued.
– under or over-sleeping, any change to normal sleep pattern.
– poor concentration, thoughts slowed down.
– loss of interest in hobbies, family, or social life.
– low self esteem.
– physical aches and pains with no physical basis.
– loss of interest in living, thinking about death, suicidal thoughts.
– elated, enthusiastic, excited, angry, irritable, or depressed.
– increased energy, over-talkative or over-active.
– reduced need for sleep, marked difficulty in getting to sleep.
– racing thoughts, ‘pressure in the head’, indecision, jumping from one topic to another, poor concentration.
– increased interest in pleasurable activities, new adventures, sex, alcohol, street drugs, religion, music, or art.
– high self-esteem, feel they can achieve anything.
– physical aches and pains disappear.
– thinking that they can live forever, taking reckless physical risks or, if angry or distressed, can have suicidal thoughts.