Bipolar disorder help
If you are experiencing some of these symptoms, you should speak to your GP or a school counsellor. It may not mean that you have bipolar disorder but they will be able to talk to you about how you are feeling.
If the GP thinks that you have bipolar disorder they are likely to refer you to the child and adolescent mental health service (CAMHS) or a psychiatrist who is a specialist doctor in issues such as bipolar disorder. The psychiatrist will discuss with you how you are feeling to work out if you have bipolar or another mental health problem and work out the best treatment for you.
Nice is the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence and it makes recommendations to healthcare professionals about different treatment. Nice says that the treatment of bipolar disorder is based primarily on psychotropic medication to reduce the severity of symptoms, stabilise mood and prevent relapse. It says that how the individual responds to the drug will determine the choice of drug for the treatment as some people may experience side effects with some of the options. Nice says patients should be involved in decisions about their treatment and care.
Treatment during manic episodes
It is likely you will be offered medication and if you have manic episodes you could be offered an anti-psychotic drug and if that doesn’t help they may offer you a drug to stabilise your mood such as lithium.
You should be closely monitored when taking this medication for possible side effects.
Treatment during depressive episodes
If you are experiencing mild depressive episodes you will be monitored closely and support put in place. If the depression is more serious, you may be offered a type of antidepressant called a Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor (SSRI). If you are under 18 this is likely to be Prozac (Fluoxetine). If you are prescribed an antidepressant you may be prescribed another drug to stabilise your mood as antidepressants can bring on a manic episode. Antidepressants can take a couple of weeks to get into your system and start working and need to be taken regularly but your doctor should explain this to you.
Once you have had treatment for mania or depression or both, you should start to feel better but the doctor is likely to monitor you closely to prevent the mood swings coming back. You may be offered talking therapy such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy - CBT - that helps you to understand your thoughts, feelings and behaviour and helps you to think about things differently.
Your treatment is likely to be constantly under review depending on how you are feeling so it is important that you are honest with the doctor about how you are feeling so that they can help you accordingly.
The NIce guidelines are available here.
See the next section for further sources of information about bipolar disorder.