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Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder is a mental health condition that causes extreme mood swings—from emotional highs (mania) to lows (depression). When you’re manic, you may feel euphoric and full of energy. When you’re depressed, you may feel sad or hopeless, and lose interest in most activities. These mood swings can affect your sleep, activity, judgment, and ability to think clearly.

Although bipolar disorder is a lifelong condition, it’s important to know that you can manage your mood swings and other symptoms by following a treatment plan. Usually, bipolar disorder is treated with medications and psychological counselling.

 

What is normal?

We all have our ups and downs, but with bipolar disorder these peaks and valleys are more severe. More than occasional mood changes, bipolar disorder involves serious shifts in mood, energy, thinking, and behaviour. The cycles of bipolar disorder can last for days, weeks, or months.
 

What are common signs and symptoms?

The symptoms of the two parts of bipolar disorder are very different from each other.

Symptoms of depression:

  • Overwhelming feelings of sadness or grief
  • Losing interest in activities you normally enjoy
  • Avoiding other people
  • Sleeping more (or less) than usual
  • Eating more (or less) than usual
  • Having difficulty concentrating or making decisions
  • Feeling extremely irritable and angry
  • Feeling guilty all the time
  • Low energy, feeling very tired
  • Lost desire for sex
  • Feeling worthless, helpless, or hopeless
  • Thoughts of death or suicide

 

Symptoms of mania:

  • Excessively high or elevated mood
  • Extremely irritable or angry
  • Optimistic about everything, even when others aren't
  • Making quick decisions without thinking them through
  • Spending money more quickly 
  • Changing sexual habits
  • Racing thoughts
  • High levels of energy
  • Talking all the time or more quickly than usual
  • Sleeping less
  • Extremely short attention span
  • Seeing or hearing things that other people don’t

 

Should I seek help?

Often, people with bipolar disorder don't recognize how much their emotional instability disrupts their lives and the lives of their loved ones, so they don't get the treatment they need. If you have any symptoms of depression or mania, or if you see them in someone you love, see a doctor or mental health professional for help.

If you have suicidal thoughts or behaviours, seek emergency treatment immediately—call 911 or the Nova Scotia Mental Health Crisis line at 1-888-429-8167.

Bipolar disorder doesn't get better on its own. Getting treatment from a mental health professional with experience in bipolar disorder can help you get your symptoms under control.

 

Tools

Mental Health 101

Knowledge is power. This series of free online tutorials is a starting point for learning about mental health.​ You can come away with a greater understanding of the mental health concern you are interested in knowing more about.

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Adults / Seniors / Youth

32 Program(s)

Canadian Mental Health Association - Colchester East Hants Branch

This program is not administered by Nova Scotia Health Authority. Program Information may be incorrect and/or out of date. Confirm details with the program provider.

The Canadian Mental Health Association, Colchester East Hants Branch provides public education, advocacy, and a resource center to support the resiliency and recovery of...

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Adults / Seniors

Canadian Mental Health Association - Halifax-Dartmouth Branch

This program is not administered by Nova Scotia Health Authority. Program Information may be incorrect and/or out of date. Confirm details with the program provider.

The Canadian Mental Health Association, Halifax-Dartmouth Branch works at the community level and facilitates access to the resources people require to maintain and improve...

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Adults / Seniors

Canadian Mental Health Association - Nova Scotia Division

This program is not administered by Nova Scotia Health Authority. Program Information may be incorrect and/or out of date. Confirm details with the program provider.

Canadian Mental Health Associations in Nova Scotia are the oldest community-based mental health and addictions charitable organizations in the province, founded in 1908. The...

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Adults / Seniors

Laing House

This program is not administered by Nova Scotia Health Authority. Program Information may be incorrect and/or out of date. Confirm details with the program provider.

Laing House, located in Halifax, is a drop-in centre for youth aged 16 – 29 living with mental health illness and/or challenges. Based on peer support, youth can meet friends...

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Adults / Youth

Healthy Minds Cooperative

This program is not administered by Nova Scotia Health Authority. Program Information may be incorrect and/or out of date. Confirm details with the program provider.

Healthy Minds Cooperative is an innovative mental health cooperative that provides a variety of peer-based services to people with lived experience of mental health issues and...

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Adults / Seniors

Hope for Wellness HelpLine

This program is not administered by Nova Scotia Health Authority. Program Information may be incorrect and/or out of date. Confirm details with the program provider.

The Hope for Wellness HelpLine offers immediate mental health counselling and crisis intervention to all Indigenous peoples across Canada. Experienced and culturally competent...

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Adults / Seniors / Youth
First Nations, Indigenous

Eskasoni Mental Health

This program is not administered by Nova Scotia Health Authority. Program Information may be incorrect and/or out of date. Confirm details with the program provider.

Eskasoni Mental Health Services (EMHS) provides a wide range of services to the Mi’kmaq people of Eskasoni, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. The Tui'kn Residential School Survivor...

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Adults / Seniors / Youth
First Nations, Indigenous

Caregivers Nova Scotia

This program is not administered by Nova Scotia Health Authority. Program Information may be incorrect and/or out of date. Confirm details with the program provider.

Caregivers Nova Scotia provides free programs, services, information, and advocacy for family and friend caregivers. We are dedicated to providing recognition and practical assistance to friends and family giving care.

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Adults / Seniors
Caregiver, Family

211

211
This program is not administered by Nova Scotia Health Authority. Program Information may be incorrect and/or out of date. Confirm details with the program provider.

211 is a free, confidential information and referral service that can connect you to thousands of programs and services offered by local community groups, nonprofits and government departments across Nova Scotia, 24/7.

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Adults / Children / Seniors / Youth

Canadian Forces Morale and Welfare Services - Mental Health Programs and Services

This program is not administered by Nova Scotia Health Authority. Program Information may be incorrect and/or out of date. Confirm details with the program provider.

Canadian Forces Morale and Welfare Services (CFMWS) is responsible for administering Non-Public Property (NPP) on behalf of the Chief of the Defence Staff and for delivering...

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Adults / Seniors
Canadian Forces, RCMP

Veterans Affairs Canada Assitance Service

This program is not administered by Nova Scotia Health Authority. Program Information may be incorrect and/or out of date. Confirm details with the program provider.

Veterans Affairs provide targeted services and benefits to improve well-being including support and services related to your physical and mental health and wellness.The VAC...

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Adults / Seniors
Canadian Forces, RCMP

Community Support Service (Child and Adolescent)

The Community Support Program is for school aged children and adolescents registered with the Child and Adolescent Mental Health program.

The program supports the work of the...

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Children / Youth

Health Psychology

Health Psychology offers psychological interventions for those with chronic and acute health conditions. The main focus is on the patient's mental and emotional reaction to an illness or their recovery from an illness.

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Adults

Wellness Court

Wellness Court Programs are specialty or problem-solving courts, where a team of professionals helps treat the issues contributing to the individual coming into conflict with...

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Adults

Psychosocial Rehabilitation (PSR) Unit

The Psychosocial Rehabilitation Unit offers 24 hours a day, seven days a week support for individuals with mental illness (such as Schizophrenia, Schizoaffective Disorder and...

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Adults

Geriatric Psychiatry Acute Inpatient Unit

The Geriatric Psychiatry Acute Inpatient Unit is for individuals over the age of 65 with a new onset of mental illness or for individuals of any age with dementia and complicated medical and/or psychological symptoms.

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Seniors

Geriatric Psychiatry Outpatient Program

Seniors mental health services provide assessment, consultation and treatments to:

  • seniors aged 65 and older for a new onset of mental health challenges
  • individuals of...

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Seniors

Mood Disorders Clinic

The mood disorders clinic provides consultations for individuals with severe mood disorders such as possible bipolar disorder. This is a specialized service that provides diagnosis and treatment of severe mood disorders.

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Adults

Mental Health Day Treatment Program

The Mental Health Day Treatment Program is a full-time, six week intensive group psychotherapy program. The program is for individuals with mental illness who also have long...

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Adults

Adult Neurodevelopmental Stabilization Unit - Dual Diagnosis Program (Intellectual Disability in combination with Mental Illness)

The Adult Neurodevelopmental Stabilization Unit (ANSU) is an acute care unit that provides services for persons with intellectual disability and acute mental illness that...

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Adults

Connections

Connections Service is a recovery-focused program that provides supports and opportunities to adults living with mental illness such as schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder...

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Adults

Community Transition Program (CTP)

The Community Transition Program (CTP) helps adults who have complex (mental and physical) health and behavioural challenges, and residential/social support needs. The goal is...

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Adults

Community Outreach Assessment Support and Treatment Team (COAST) - Dual Diagnosis Program (Intellectual Disability in combination with Mental Illness)

The community outreach assessment support and treatment team provides services for persons with both intellectual disability and also mental illness. These services include:

...

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Adults

Seniors Mental Health Services

Seniors mental health services provide assessment, consultation and treatments to:

- seniors aged 65 and older for a new onset of mental health challenges;
- individuals of...

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Seniors

School Mental Health (SchoolsPlus)

The school mental health clinicians provide individual and group therapy, mental health and addictions education for school staff and consultation services. Clinicians are on...

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Children / Youth

Provincial Mental Health and Addictions Crisis Line

The Provincial Mental Health and Addictions Crisis Line provides crisis intervention for children, youth and adults experiencing a mental health crisis or mental distress.

...

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Adults / Children / Seniors / Youth

Inpatient Mental Health Services

Inpatient mental health services are available for those who cannot be safely assessed, diagnosed and stabilized in the community. 

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Adults / Seniors

First Nations Services

Mental Health clinicians work as part of the first nations health care team in several first nations communities. The Mental Health Clinician provides assessment, diagnosis...

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Adults / Children / Seniors / Youth
First Nations, Indigenous

Crossroads Clubhouse

Crossroads Cape Breton is community organized to support people living with mental illness in reclaiming and enhancing their lives. People are referred to as “members” because...

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Adults / Seniors

Community Support Service (Adults)

The Community Support Teams for Adults/Community Supports for Adults supports individuals living with persistent mental illness to develop and maintain a safe, satisfying...

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Adults / Seniors

Adult Community Mental Health and Addictions Services

Community Mental Health and Addictions includes a team of mental health and addictions professionals who provide services on an outpatient basis. The team provides assessment...

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Adults / Seniors

Child and Adolescent Services

Child and Adolescent Services/Child Youth and Family/Child and Adolescent Outpatient Clinical Services provide mental health and addiction services to children and youth...

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Children / Youth

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