Bipolar disorder is a condition that affects a person’s mood. Moods can switch between extremes of happiness and depression, with episodes lasting for days or even weeks at a time.
It affects 1 in 100 people and tends to begin later in adolescence with symptoms usually starting between the ages of 15 and 19 in young people.
The signs and symptoms associated with bipolar disorder include:
- Extreme mood swings
- Manic episodes such as talking a lot, racing thoughts, over confidence, increased activity
- Difficulty with concentration
- Low mood
- Decreased energy
- Disturbed sleep
- Reduced appetite
- Thoughts of self-harm
Just because you experience one or more of these symptoms, it doesn’t mean you’re definitely affected by bipolar disorder. It’s important to talk to your GP to get a full diagnosis.
If you are in an emergency and there is risk to life (yours or someone else’s) call 999
If you are in crisis call Childline free on 0800 1111 or visit childline.org.uk/get-support/
Schools employ a variety of people to look after your wellbeing. Some of the titles of these staff may vary in your school but you will be able to find out about them from a teacher. Most schools have a nurse who will either have a drop-in clinic or you can make an appointment to see them.
GP – you can make an appointment to visit your doctor or a nurse at the surgery to talk about any worries or concerns you have. Call your GP surgery to speak to the receptionist or go there in person. The receptionist will probably ask you who the appointment is for and why; this is to make sure that you see the right person at the right time. You don’t have to tell them why – you can just say it’s for something personal if you like.
If you think you’ll might have difficulty discussing your mental health with your GP, you can find advice about how to prepare How to Talk to Your GP About Mental Health
Off the Record – free mental health support for 11-18 year olds. www.otrbristol.org.uk, 0808 808 9120, text 07896880011.
South Gloucestershire Talking Therapies – free support for people aged 16 and over. https://iapt-sglos.awp.nhs.uk/, 0117 378 4270.
Network Counselling – for ages 11 and up. Call 01179507271 or visit www.network.org.uk (contribution required).
The Bridge Foundation – individual and family counselling, call 0117 9424510 or visit www.bridgefoundation.org.uk (charges apply).
Relate Avon – relationship counselling services available for young people aged 10-18. Call 0117 9428444 or visit www.relate-avon.org.uk (charges apply).
ChildLine – free helpline for children and young people to talk about any problem 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. 0800 1111 www.childline.org.uk
The Mix: telephone and email support for under 25’s. Freephone 0808 808 4994 (1pm-11pm) Text 80849 www.themix.org.uk
Samaritans – if something is troubling you call 116 123 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Get self-help – free online cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) resources, www.getselfhelp.co.uk.
Reading Well: Shelf Help – a list of recommended books to help young people deal with a range of issues, available in all libraries.