What is bipolar disorder?
Bipolar disorder used to be known as manic depression and is a condition that affects your moods, which can swing from one extreme to another. If you have bipolar disorder you will have periods or ‘episodes’ of depression and mania.
Depression is where you feel very low and mania is where you feel very high.
Bipolar disorder is a relatively common condition with around one person in 100 being diagnosed with the condition. It can occur at any age, although it often develops in people who are between 18-24 years of age.
On this page
If you think you may have bipolar disorder, you should visit your GP who will be able to help you further. If your GP agrees, they will refer you to our services so you can be assessed and given help and support.
Treatment for bipolar disorder
How we may help, and some of the treatments on offer.
Treatment for bipolar disorder aims to reduce the severity and number of episodes of depression and mania to allow as normal a life as possible.
Treatment options for bipolar disorder
If a person isn’t treated, episodes of bipolar-related mania can last for between three and six months. Episodes of depression tend to last longer, for between 6 and 12 months.
However, with effective treatment, episodes usually improve within about three months.
Most people with bipolar disorder can be treated using a combination of different treatments. These can include one or more of the following:
- medication to prevent episodes of mania, hypomania (less severe mania) and depression. These are known as mood stabilisers and are taken every day on a long-term basis
- medication to treat the main symptoms of depression and mania when they occur
- learning to recognise the triggers and signs of an episode of depression or mania
- psychological treatment – such as talking therapies, which help you deal with depression and provide advice on how to improve relationships
- lifestyle advice – such as doing regular exercise, planning activities you enjoy that give you a sense of achievement, and advice on improving your diet and getting more sleep
Read more about living with bipolar disorder.
Our teams and services
Where to find us, and which services can help you.
Living with a mental health condition
Information for patients and carers on the wider aspects of living with a mental health condition.
Mental illness can affect many areas of your life. This section has information on many aspects of your daily life, from physical health to work, education and recovery. Select an area below to learn more:
Five Ways to Wellbeing
At any given time, 1 in 4 of us will be experiencing a mental health issue. Some of the most common mental health conditions, such as depression, anxiety and stress, can be relieved by following some simple steps called the Five Ways to Wellbeing.
- Connect with people - your family, friends, colleagues and neighbours. Speaking to people over the telephone or online can help, but there’s nothing like being in the company of others to boost your mood.
- Get active - take a walk, go cycling, join a dance class, go swimming or play a game of football. Find an activity that you enjoy and make it a part of your life. Anything that raises your heart rate – even cleaning the house – can help.
- Keep learning – give yourself a sense of achievement and a new confidence. Why not sign up for that cooking course, start learning to play a musical instrument, learn a new language, or figure out how to fix your bike?
- Give - even the smallest act can count - whether it's a smile, a thank you or a kind word. Larger acts, such as volunteering at your local community centre, can improve your mental wellbeing and help you make new friends.
- Be mindful - be more aware of the present moment, including your feelings and thoughts, your body and the world around you. Some people call this awareness ‘mindfulness’ and it can positively change the way you feel about life and how you approach challenges.
These are proven techniques to help boost your general wellbeing and they are things we can all incorporate into our daily lives. If you want to make your mental health and wellbeing a priority, following these steps is a good place to start.
Drugs and alcohol
Support in Gloucestershire
CGL Gloucestershire is a free and confidential drug and alcohol service for adults (including offenders), families, carers and affected others.
They provide information, support, advice and treatment options from three main hubs across the county - Cheltenham, Gloucester and Stroud. They also work from a range of other locations including pharmacies and community venues.
Support in Herefordshire
Addaction Herefordshire offers information, advice and support for people with drug and alcohol issues every weekday, and on alternative Saturdays. There is a young people’s service for those aged 11+. Their recovery-focused service has bases in Hereford as well as outreach via partner organisations. They aim to support people to overcome their issues and develop the skills necessary to go on to live a fulfilling life in recovery. They also support the families of people with substance misuse issues.
Money and mental health
Money and mental health are often linked. Poor mental health can make managing money harder and worrying about money can make your mental health worse.
This website gives information about the relationship between money worries and mental health, with suggestions on how to address them.
Our Vocational Services team can help you to find work. Find out more here.
You are entitled to see the information held in your health record. You do not have to tell us why you want to see your records.
If you wish to see a copy of your health record, please ask the person providing your care or write to: Head of Health Records, Rikenel, Montpellier, Gloucester GL1 1LY.
In your letter, give:
- your name
- date of birth
- any other information which would help locate your file
Please note: there may be a charge for this service.
If you think that information in your health records may not be accurate, please notify us in writing.
Our Choice and Medication website helps you make a decision about medication and some treatments. The Trust's pharmacy service supports staff, service users and carers in achieving safe and effective management of medicines. For more information, please visit our Choice and Medication website.
Pregnancy and mental health
If you have serious mental ill health now, or have done in the past, and are pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant, then it is important to get specialist advice.
Getting specialist advice and guidance prior to becoming pregnant will help reduce the risks for you and your baby. There is help and support available, so don't be afraid to talk about how you are feeling with your midwife, GP or psychiatrist – they will be happy to discuss your particular problem and care with you.
Women who have had previous serious mental ill health can be at higher risk of becoming unwell during pregnancy and after birth. Mental health professionals can discuss care and treatment choices and support you to make informed choices about managing your condition, including weighing up the benefits and risks of taking medication. They will help you make a plan to look after your mental health as your pregnancy progresses and once your baby is born.
If your pregnancy is unplanned, then you should inform your care coordinator or lead mental health professional as soon as you know you are pregnant, so they can help and support you. It is important a women's mental health remains stable during pregnancy and after birth. There is increasing evidence that shows that untreated mental illness during this period can have a negative longer term effect on a baby's development.
If you are pregnant, it is important that you don’t stop your medication suddenly, unless told to do so by your doctor. Stopping treatment suddenly may cause you to become unwell again more quickly and increase the risks for you and your baby. It can also cause side effects. It may be best for you to continue your medication during your pregnancy and if you choose to breastfeed. Mental illness can sometimes impact on a women's ability to care for herself and her baby. It is also important to inform your midwife about your mental health condition and any medication you are taking. Do not treat yourself with herbal remedies without consulting your doctor.
Taking your medication whilst pregnant
If you are on medication, or specific medication has been suggested to you, the Best Use of Medicines in Pregnancy (BUMPS) website is a helpful resource. This free service gives the most up-to-date, evidence-based information for women and their families. This website is an excellent resource but please still discuss any medication changes with your doctor.
Did you know?
- Smoking is the primary reason for the 10 to 20 year shortened life expectancy for people with a mental health disorder. Smoking causes cancer, cardio vascular disease and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
- People with mental health conditions consume 42 per cent of all tobacco bought in the UK
- Many think smoking is a mood enhancer - in fact it causes depression, stress and anxiety
- Smokers have a 79 per cent increased risk of being diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease
These are just some of the reasons why cutting down or giving up smoking altogether can have a huge impact on improving your health and wellbeing.
How to get help quitting
- If you are one of our service users, ask to speak to a Smokefree Champion or Quit Advisor
- If you live in Gloucestershire, visit hlsglos.org or ring 0800 122 3788
- You can also call the national Smokefree helpline on 0800 022 4332 (Monday to Friday 9am to 8pm, Saturday and Sunday 11am to 5pm)
- GPs can provide advice and prescriptions for nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) products and most surgeries have nurses who offer a stop smoking service
- The national Smokefree website includes a wide range of support options and advice
Information for carers
information about your involvement in the care we provide to your relative or friend and support for you in your caring role.
Carers provide a vital support network but are at greater risk of experiencing mental and physical health problems and emotional stress themselves due to the demands of being a carer.
Here you will find information about your involvement in the care we provide to your relative or friend and information about support for you in your caring role.
Estimated carers in Herefordshire and Gloucester
Carers information booklet
Carers information booklet
Our carers information booklet aims to provide some information about your involvement in the care we provide to your friend or relative but equally important it aims to provide information about support for you in your caring role, from us and from other local organisations. The booklet includes:
- What you can expect from us as a carer
- Carers Needs Assessments and the Care Act
- Planning for an emergency and the Carers Emergency Scheme
- Accessing respite care and Carer breaks
- Carer information and support groups
- GP practice carer registers
- Confidentiality and information sharing
- Speaking to staff
You can access a copy of our Carers information booklet by clicking here.
Our Carers charters were developed with and for carers as a joint statement of how we will work together to help make life better. Based on our core values, our charters are our pledges to carers of people using our services. You can view copies of our charters by clicking the links below:
Local and national carer support organisations
Local and national carer support organisations
For contact details of local and national carer support organisations, see below.
Carers Gloucestershire is an independent, carer led charitable organisation that seeks to empower carers across the county to promote their rights and enable them to make positive choices to improve the quality of their lives.
Telephone: 01452 386283
Gloucestershire Young Carers
Gloucestershire Young Carers is a support network for young carers across the county. They work with young carers to ensure that service providers understand their needs and respond appropriately.
Telephone: 01452 733060
Herefordshire Carers Support
Herefordshire Carers Support aims to ensure carers are universally recognised as fundamental to the communities they live in and that there is a balance between their caring responsibilities and their lives outside their caring role.
Telephone: 01432 356068
Carers UK is a charity set up to help millions of people who care for family or friends
Telephone: 0808 8087777
The Carers Trust
A charity for, with and about carers which works to improve support services and recognition for anyone living with the challenges of caring, unpaid, for a family member or friend who is ill, frail, disabled or who has mental health or addiction problems.
Telephone: 0844 800 4361
Young carers are children and young people who take responsibility for the care of a family member, usually a parent or brother or sister, who have a disability, a serious illness, mental ill health or who have issues with substance misuse.
The care might range from basic household tasks to nursing care, or it might take the form of emotional support.
If you are a young carer in Gloucestershire or Herefordshire, please use the tabs below for information about the support available to you.
Carers Gloucestershire and Gloucestershire Young Carers offer:
- Information Advice and Guidance
- Assessment and support planning
- Emotional Support
- Carers Voice
Family Information Service
The Family Information Service for information on family finances, finding and choosing childcare and local activities, parenting support, education and housing
www.glosfamiliesdirectory.org.uk Freephone: 0800 542 02 02 Direct line: 01452 427362
Family Lives offers family and parenting support, befriending for parents and mentoring for children. Providing help and support for all aspects of family life.
Telephone: 0808 800 2222 www.familylives.org.uk
County Community Projects
- Advocacy: free health and social care and statutory mental health advocacy service
- Appropriate Adult Scheme: for young people and adults with mental health or learning difficulties held in police custody
- Family Mediation
- Family Support
01452 894594 or 0800 644 6448 www.ccprojects.org.uk
www.selfinjurysupport.org.uk 0808 801 0606 or text support: 07537 410022
Other information and help:
Royal College of Psychiatrists
Provides specifically tailored information for young people, parents, teachers and carers about mental health.
Schools and Colleges
Many schools and colleges in Gloucestershire have a named Young Carer Link Worker. Please contact the appropriate school or college directly for details.
If you have safeguarding concerns, please contact the Children and Families Helpdesk on 01452 426565 or email email@example.com
They can help families access services that will make their lives easier as well as offering young carers time out and respite from their caring responsibilities.
Herefordshire Young Carers work with young carers and their families to personalise the support we give them. This may include:
- One-to-one work
- School support
- Trips and activities
- Young Carer Clubs
- Signposting to other useful services and support agencies
Contacting Herefordshire Young Carers
Telephone: 01432 356068 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Visit: www.herefordshirecarerssupport.org/young-carers/support-young-carers
Carer information sessions and support groups
Carer information sessions and support groups
Carer Education and Support Groups provide:
- Time to talk, share experiences and support each other
- Visiting speakers on mental health issues and services
- Increased understanding of mental health problems and how they may be managed
- Education for Carers on looking after their own wellbeing
- Information on Carers’ rights
- A social event
Ask the Care Team or local carer support agencies if groups or a carer education programme run in your area.
For further information on Carer Education and Support Groups in your area please contact:
Telephone: 0300 111 9000
Positive Caring Programme
Herefordshire Carer Support
Telephone: 01432 356068
Emotional support for carers
Emotional support for carers
It’s not unusual for carers to feel that things are getting on top of them and you may feel anxious or depressed. Getting the right help is essential to prevent this escalating and there are several avenues open to you.
Your GP is a good first point of contact as they will be able to assess your health and access a range of treatment. If they hold a Carers’ register as many surgeries do it might also help to register yourself as a carer so they are aware of your situation.
At ²gether you can access help through Lets Talk, our Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) Service which offers a range of support including telephone, face to face and group sessions. Your GP can help you access the service or you can click here to see the support available to you and self refer.
Other organisations offering support
Carers organisations also offer a range of emotional support and counselling services to carers – you can find their contact details in our Information for carers Booklet or by clicking here.
If you and your family are the main support for somebody currently using our services you may find it helpful to have an assessment of your own needs in your caring role.
A formal Carers Assessment means that a support plan can be put in place for you that takes account of:
- your view of your role as a carer
- the support you already provide and how to best to help you maintain that
- the other things you want or need to do in life
- accessing community resources local to you
- identifying public, private and voluntary services that are funded to support carers and offer something you might value
Examples of support that might be identified include:
- tailored information and advice about mental health and learning disability and its treatment
- information about welfare benefits
- joining a carers support group
- having a short break
A Carers Assessment is not a test of how good a carer you are.
I am a carer in Gloucestershire, how do I arrange a Carers Assessment?
If you have not been offered a Carers Assessment and you would like one, please speak to the named nurse or care co-ordinator of the person you care for to find out who does this with you. Most people find talking through the assessment with a member of staff from ²gether or Carers Gloucestershire works best to identify what will help them. The assessment is a guided conversation about you and your needs so you should take some time to think about what is most important for you.
I am a carer in Herefordshire, how do I arrange a Carers Assessment?
Speak to your friend or family member’s named nurse or care co-ordinator if you would like help to access a carers assessment or request one directly by contacting the Advice and Referral Team (ART) at Herefordshire Council:
- Telephone: 01432 260101
- Email: ASCAdviceandReferralTeam@herefordshire.gcsx.gov.uk
- Fax: 01432 261666
You can also write to: Adult Social Care, Advice and Referral Team, Franklin House, 4 Commercial Road, Hereford HR1 2BB.
Information for professionals
Notes on services, contacts and treatments for healthcare professionals.
Referral information for Gloucestershire GPs and Healthcare Practitioners
Referral information for Herefordshire GPs and Healthcare Practitioners
News and views
News stories linked to bipolar disorder and related conditions.
²gether NHS Foundation Trust has been working with the national Time to Change campaign on a project aimed at tackling stigma and discrimination reported by people using mental health services across the UK. As well as reporting that they have experienced stigma on a...read more