Bipolar disorder 躁郁症

Your Guide to Understanding Bipolar Disorder
Ministry of Health Singapore


1.       What is Bipolar Disorder?

2.       What are the symptoms of Bipolar Disorder?

3.       Who gets Bipolar Disorder? What causes Bipolar Disorder?

4.       When do you need help? What are the treatments available?

5.       Coping with Bipolar Disorder

6.       Helping someone with Bipolar Disorder

7.       Where to get help

This booklet is not meant to be a substitute for professional medical advice and care. You should consult your family doctor or other healthcare professionals if you have any questions about your medical condition.

1.       What is Bipolar Disorder?

Bipolar disorder is an illness characterised by episodes of extreme mood swings. During these episodes, the patient’s mood, behavior and activity levels are significantly disrupted. Episodes may be characterized by either an elevation of mood with increased energy and activity (i.e. mania or hypomania), or a lowering of mood with decreased energy and activity (i.e. depression).

2.       What are the symptoms of Bipolar Disorder?

During episodes of mania or hypomania (less severe mania), symptoms may include:
  • Excessive happiness or irritability
  • Feeling full of energy and restlessness
  • Less need for sleep
  • Racing thoughts
  • Feeling full of self-importance
  • Feeling full of great new ideas and having important plans
  • Doing pleasurable things that often have disastrous consequences, such as spending large sums of money on expensive unaffordable items

During episodes of depression, symptoms may include:
  • Feeling sad and hopeless
  • Lacking in energy
  • Difficulty concentrating and remembering things
  • A loss of interest in everyday activities
  • Feelings of emptiness or worthlessness
  • Feelings of guilt and despair
  • Feeling pessimistic about everything
  • Changes in appetite causing weight loss or gain
  • Either sleeping excessively or having difficulty sleeping
  • Suicidal thoughts

3.       a. Who gets Bipolar Disorder?

Although the local prevalence for bipolar disorder is yet unknown, gobal estimates suggest that 1-2% of people may suffer from bipolar disorder over their lifetime. Men and women are equally likely to get the disorder.
The age of onset for bipolar disorder ranges from childhood to 50 years of age, with a mean age of approximately 21 years.

b. What causes Bipolar Disorder?

The cause of bipolar disorder is yet unknown. However, it is thought that genetics, enviormnetal as well as social factors play a role.

4.       When do you need help?

If you or your loved one has noticed that you are suffering from severe mood swings with the symptoms associated with mania, hypomania or depression, you should seek professional assessment.

If you have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, you should be on regular follow-up with a doctor

5.       What are the treatments available?

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

·         Medications to prevent episodes of mania, hypomania and depression – these are known as mood stabilisers and are taken every day, on a long-term basis;

·         Medications to treat the main symptoms of depression and mania as and when they occur;

·         Psycho-social treatments to help recognize the early signs of an episode as well as to identify situations that may trigger a relapse;

·         Learning healthy coping skills to deal with stress.

6.       Coping with Bipolar Disorder

Living with bipolar disorder is challenging. However, many people with bipolar disorder have successful careers, happy family lives, and satisfying relationships.

There are steps that you can take to manage the condition more effectively, such as:
  • ·         Avoiding or learning to cope with stressful situations that may trigger an episode of mania or depression;
  • ·         Avoiding drinking too much alcohol or taking recreational drugs, as this may interact with your medications or trigger an episode;
  • ·         Taking your prescribed mood medications regularly and not to suddenly stop taking them just because you feel well;
  • ·         Informing your doctor immediately if you get any side effects from the mediation you are taking. He can adjust your dosage or change the type of medication that you are taking;
  • ·         Learning about your illness so that you can recognize the signs of an approaching episode and take the necessary steps to manage it effectively;
  • ·         Leading a healthy lifestyle, including getting sufficient sleep.

If you have bipolar disorder, the help and support of your family and friends are important. If they know that you have the condition and understand what it is about, they can recognize when you are experiencing mood swings and advise you to seek help.

7.       Helping someone with Bipolar Disorder

You can help someone with bipolar disorder. The first and most important thing you can do is help him get the right diagnosis and treatment. Ensure that he sees the doctor on time. Encourage your loved one to stay in treatment. Some people stop taking the medication as soon as they feel better or because the mania feels good. Stopping medication can cause serious problems.

To help a friend or relative, you can:

  • ·         Offer support, understanding, patience, and encouragement;
  • ·         Learn about bipolar disorder so that you can understand what your loved one is experiencing;
  • ·         Talk to him and listen carefully to what he has to share;
  • ·         Listen to feelings which he expresses – be understanding about situations that may trigger bipolar symptoms;
  • ·         Invite him out for positive distractions, such as walks, outings, and other activities;
  • ·         Remind him that, with time and treatment, he can get better;
  • ·         Never ignore comments about harming himself. Always inform his doctor of such comments.

8.       Where to get help
Consult a doctor if you are experiencing symptoms or wish to seek help

From 1 Nov 2011, the Medisave for Chronic Disease Management Programme will be extended to include Dementia and Bipolar Disorder. The scheme will allow patients with these mental illnesses to use their Medisave to pay part of their treatment bill.

To locate a hospital or a clinic near your home that is on the Chronic Disease Management Programme Mental Health (CDMP MH) visit

For information on CDMP and CDMP Mental Health call the healthline at 1800 2231313 or visit

Copyright HPB B ECMT 690-11
November 2011

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