Mental Health: Bipolar Disorder
Updated: Mar 12
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
Being reckless or taking unnecessary risks (e.g. driving fast or dangerously)
Increased sex drive
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.