Targeted issues

Bipolar disorder

A roller coaster mood

In Quebec, 2% of the population is affected.

Bipolar affective disorder, also known as manic depression, is usually diagnosed in adulthood and affects an average of two out of every 100 people.


It is a mood disorder characterized by manic (high) and depressive (low) phases that can last several days, even weeks or months.


Regardless of the phase (high or low), it can be noticed that the person is no longer functioning normally.

L'image d'une personne avec un trouble bipolaire vivant une phase maniaque suivie par une phase dépressive
  • Excessively cheerful mood (euphoric*)
  • Extreme irritability
  • Feeling of always being right
  • Excessive, rapid and unexpected mood swings
  • Acceleration of speech and ideas
  • Little concentration
  • Excessive involvement in pleasurable activities
  • Hypersexuality
  • Self-esteem
  • Takes little rest, breaks from work or sleep and does not feel the need for it
  • Increased search for company
  • Laughter, jokes, excessive and irrelevant words
  • Physical impatience, hyperactivity
  • Depressed, sad and empty mood
  • Marked decrease in interest and pleasure
  • Marked weight loss or gain
  • Insomnia ou hypersomnia
  • Agitation or apathy
  • Fatigue and loss of energy
  • Self-deprecation
  • Excessive, unwarranted guilt
  • Difficulty thinking, concentrating
  • Difficulty in making a decision
  • Suicidal thoughts

Scientific research mostly states biological causes for bipolar affective disorder:

  • Certain chromosomes are thought to be involved;
  • Hormonal variation;
  • Weakened immune system.

Heredity also influences the onset of the illness. The risk increases in families where it is already present.

In people with predispositions to develop the disease, certain stressful situations can act as triggers.

The symptoms of bipolar affective disorder can be well controlled with drug therapy. Mood regulators (thymoregulators) are usually effective. This type of therapy may require regular blood checks to properly dose the medication.

When symptoms are controlled, the person with the disorder is usually able to return to her previous family, work and social functioning. On the other hand, he or she must learn to live with the disease and develop skills that will help prevent relapses.

Psychotherapy may prove beneficial for some.

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A Practical Guide to Mental Health Rights