Mental Health: Bipolar Disorder

Mental Health: Bipolar Disorder

What is Bipolar Disorder?

Bipolar disorder, which used to be called manic depression, involves periods of depression (low mood) and mania (elevated, high mood). Bipolar disorder is a serious mental health condition that affects a small number of women during pregnancy. The causes of bipolar disorder aren't known, but it is frequently inherited and often linked to stressful life events.

Could it be Bipolar Disorder?

Women who have a history of bipolar disorder in their family may have a first episode during pregnancy or after the birth of the baby.

The symptoms of bipolar disorder during the antenatal and postnatal period are the same as those at other times. A woman experiencing bipolar disorder may focus her fears and depressive concerns on her and the baby's health and wellbeing during pregnancy and early parenthood, and/or on whether she will be a good mother.

Symptoms of Depression

  • Low mood and/or feeling numb
  • Feeling inadequate, like a failure, or feeling guilty, ashamed, worthless, hopeless, helpless, empty or sad
  • Often feeling close to tears
  • Feeling angry, irritable or resentful (e.g. feeling easily irritated by your other children or your partner)
  • Fear for the baby and/or fear of being alone with the baby or the baby being unsettled
  • Fear of being alone or going out
  • Loss of interest in things that you would normally enjoy
  • Insomnia (being unable to fall asleep or get back to sleep after night feeds) or sleeping excessively, having nightmares
  • Appetite changes (not eating or over-eating)
  • Feeling unmotivated and unable to cope with the daily routine
  • Withdrawing from social contact and/or not looking after yourself properly
  • Decreased energy and feeling exhausted
  • Having trouble thinking clearly or making decisions, lack of concentration and poor memory
  • Having thoughts about harming yourself or the baby, ending your life, or wanting to escape or get away from everything.

Symptoms of Mania

  • Increased energy
  • Irritability
  • Overactivity
  • Increased spending
  • Being reckless or taking unnecessary risks (e.g. driving fast or dangerously)
  • Increased sex drive
  • Racing thoughts
  • Rapid speech
  • Decreased sleep
  • Grandiose ideas (e.g. being famous, knowledgeable about everything)
  • Symptoms of psychosis.

If you are experiencing these symptoms seek urgent assistance from a GP, mental health service or a hospital emergency department.



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