We hope to see you again soon!

You are now leaving Lundbeck UK's website (www.lundbeck.com/uk) for an external website. External links are provided as a resource to the viewer. Lundbeck UK are not responsible for the external website and its content.

UK-NOTPR-1010 | April 2022



Bipolar Disorder

Understanding Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder is associated with severe fluctuations in mood and energy, which can disrupt a person’s personal life, family and work.1

Bipolar disorder overview

Bipolar disorder is a mood disorder in which patients can experience periods of elevated mood and depressed mood.1 A period of elevated mood is known as a ‘manic episode’, and a period of depressed mood is known as a ‘depressive episode’. Between such episodes, a patient’s mood may return to normal, though they are often unable to perform to the best of their ability.1

Bipolar disorder is a serious condition, as shown by a risk of suicide that is more than 20 times greater than in the general population.2 Between 20-60% of patients with bipolar disorder attempt suicide at least once during their lifetime.3

Facts about Bipolar Disorder 

Bipolar disorder is a mood disorder in which patients can experience periods of elevated mood and depressed mood.1

A period of elevated mood is known as a ‘mania’, and a period of depressed mood is known as ‘depression’.4


Manic symptoms and depressive symptoms are polar opposites, hence the name ‘bipolar disorder’.


  • Manic episode4 – a person experiencing a manic episode may seem abnormally cheerful and full of energy and their speech may become quite fast. The person may sleep little, if at all. They may engage in risky activities, such as spending sprees, or make decisions that are very out of character. The person may also become irritable, or easily agitated.


  • Depressive episode4 – a person experiencing a depressive episode will have a very low mood and is likely to lose interest in, or be unable to get pleasure from everyday activities. They may experience feelings of sadness, emptiness and hopelessness, and have difficulty sleeping.


Periods of mania and depression often last for several weeks or months and some people with bipolar disorder have more frequent episodes than others.4 The patterns of episodes are different for everyone; some people may get more depressive episodes than manic episodes and vice versa.4


of patients in one study (n=3,658) experienced their first symptoms before the age of 21 years.5

~45 million

people worldwide suffer from bipolar disorder.6

Epidemiology and burden

Worldwide, around 45 million people suffer from bipolar disorder,6 and it affects men and women of all backgrounds equally.1 Bipolar disorder commonly emerges between the ages of 15-19 years.1 A multicentre study designed to evaluate longitudinal outcomes in 3,658 individuals with bipolar disorder, found that 76% of sufferers had their first symptoms before the age of 21 years.5


Bipolar disorder can have a negative impact on employment prospects, work performance, and work attendance - a global survey by the World Health Organisation (WHO) found that people with bipolar disorder miss an average of 17 days of work or activities per year.7 According to the WHO, bipolar disorder is the 12th leading cause of moderate-to-severe disability worldwide.8

Diagnosis and care

Bipolar disorder is diagnosed using patient interviews and may involve discussions with loved ones to get an understanding of family history and medical background.9


Once a diagnosis is made, a combination of medication, psychosocial therapy and lifestyle changes is usually recommended. Helping to identify potential triggers is also important; it won’t stop the episode from happening but it could enable the person to get help in time.10


Although bipolar disorder is a long-term condition, effective treatment combined with a variety of self-help techniques and support can help limit its impacts on everyday life.11

Charity Links

The work that UK charities undertake helps to provide patients with access to support, information and education.

  1. NHS Overview Guide: Bipolar disorder. Available at https://www.nhs.uk/mental-health/conditions/bipolar-disorder/overview/ [Accessed March 2022]
  2. Pompili M, et al. Bipolar Disord. 2013;15(5):457–490
  3. Dome P, Zoltan R, Gonda X. Medicina. 2019; 55(8):403 https://doi.org/10.3390/medicina55080403
  4. NHS Symptoms Guide: Bipolar disorder. Available at https://www.nhs.uk/mental-health/conditions/bipolar-disorder/symptoms/ [Accessed March 2022]
  5. Perlis RH, et al. Bipolar Disord. 2009;11(4):391–400
  6. GBD 2017 Disease and Injury Incidence and Prevalence Collaborators. Lancet. 2018;392(10159):1789–1858
  7. Alonso J, et al. Mol Psychiatry. 2011;16(12):1234–1246
  8. World Health Organisation. World Report on Disability 2011. Available from: http://www.who.int/disabilities/world_report/2011/report.pdf [Accessed March 2022]
  9. NHS Diagnosis Guide: Bipolar disorder. Available at https://www.nhs.uk/mental-health/conditions/bipolar-disorder/diagnosis/ [Accessed March 2022]
  10. NHS Treatment Guide: Bipolar disorder. Available at https://www.nhs.uk/mental-health/conditions/bipolar-disorder/treatment/ [Accessed March 2022]
  11. Living with Bipolar Disorder: NHS Guide. Available at https://www.nhs.uk/mental-health/conditions/bipolar-disorder/living-with/ [Accessed March 2022]

More from lundbeck

Our Commitment

Lundbeck has developed some of the world’s most widely prescribed therapies for brain diseases.

Climate Action

Saving energy and reducing CO2 emissions are strategic priorities for Lundbeck.

Access to Brain Health

We are dedicated to improving access to brain health in accordance with WHO.

UK-NOTPR-1555 | July 2023