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Bipolar - What it is

Bipolar disorder, also known as manic-depressive psychosis, is characterized by extreme mood swings between mania and depression, impacting social and occupational functioning. It affects less than 1% of the population, with an unknown exact cause. However, it is more prevalent among relatives of individuals with bipolar disorder and depression. It is a chronic illness requiring long-term treatment, and the risk of relapse can be as high as 87% if treatment is discontinued.

Bipolar - Symptoms

Navigating the complex landscape of bipolar disorder involves understanding the distinct phases that characterize this condition—mania and depression. 

Below is a detailed list of symptoms associated with each phase, shedding light on the contrasting experiences individuals may undergo during these mood episodes.


  • Very elevated mood
  •  Hyperactivity
  •  Racing thoughts
  •  Excessive talking
  •  Grandiose ideas and beliefs
  •  Easy distractibility
  •  Reduced need for sleep
  •  High energy despite lack of sleep
  •  Poor judgment and increased impulsivity
  • Increased irritability and poor temper control
  •  Reckless behavior, lack of self-control
  •  Binge eating, drinking, and/or drug use
  •  Promiscuity
  •  Spending sprees leading to debts


  • Persistent low mood or sadness
  • Loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities
  • Loss of self-esteem
  • Impaired concentration and memory
  • Feelings of worthlessness, hopelessness, or guilt
  • Appetite disturbances: loss of appetite and weight loss or overeating and weight gain
  • Difficulty falling or staying asleep or sleeping too much
  • Fatigue or lack of energy
  • Thoughts of death and suicide

Bipolar - How to prevent?

Bipolar - Causes and Risk Factors

Bipolar - Diagnosis

​Psychiatric evaluation is necessary to diagnose bipolar disorder. Laboratory tests may be carried out to rule out physical illnesses that may be causing bipolar disorder. This may include blood tests or brain imaging.

Bipolar - Treatments

Managing bipolar disorder may involve a tailored combination of medications and therapies. Find out how they are generally treated:


Mood stabilizers (Lithium, Sodium Valproate, Lamotrigine for bipolar depression) are the first-line of treatment. Antipsychotic and anti-anxiety medications may be prescribed. Antidepressant medications are often combined with mood stabilizers to treat depression in bipolar disorder.


Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is useful for addressing interpersonal difficulties, conflicts, and cognitive distortions. It is typically initiated once acute symptoms have settled. It is often used alongside medication to help patients and their families understand the disorder, improving compliance and reducing relapse rates.

Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT)

 ECT may be prescribed when medication response is poor or when the condition is severe and potentially life-threatening (e.g., severe suicidality or refusal to eat and drink). This treatment involves the controlled induction of seizures for therapeutic purposes and is performed under general anesthesia to ensure comfortable treatment.

Bipolar disorder treatment is individualised, and it's important for individuals to work closely with mental health professionals to determine the most appropriate and effective treatment plan for their specific needs.

Bipolar - Preparing for surgery

Bipolar - Post-surgery care

Bipolar - Other Information

​Download a flyer for further reading:

Bipolar Disorder.pdf

The information provided is not intended as medical advice. Terms of use. Information provided by SingHealth

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