Bipolar disorder is a common psychiatric disorder characterized by severe and unusual shifts in energy, mood and activity levels. Family and friends can be really important if you are in crisis or recovery. Ask for them to be involved, unless there are reasons for them not to be.
Alternately, everybody feels down or sad at times. But it’s important to be able to recognise when depression has become more than a temporary thing, and when to seek help.
If you have experienced an episode of mania or hypomania, it’s best to seek professional help as soon as possible. It may indicate that you have bipolar disorder, which, if left untreated, will likely involve further episodes of mania or hypomania. Bipolar disorder is not an illness which goes away of its own accord but which often needs long-term treatment.
A good first place to start in getting help is to visit your local general practitioner (GP). Let him or her know if you think you might have depression or bipolar disorder. Your GP will either conduct an assessment of you, or refer you to someone else, such as a psychiatrist or a psychologist.
If you are having trouble tracking down such a GP, you could telephone general practices in your area to find out whether any doctors in that practice have a particularly strong interest in mental health and, if so, whether they are taking on new patients. (Ask to speak to the practice manager.)
If you are in an extreme situation it is strongly advised that you call a CAT team (Crisis Assessment and Treatment Team).
Psychiatric triage (CAT) – Melbourne
Inner Urban East
Inner West Area Mental Health Service – The Royal Melbourne Hospital – John Cade Adult Acute Inpatient Unit
Clarendon Community Mental Health Centre – CAT Team
St Vincent’s Psychiatric Triage
Emergency Care Centre (all new referrals)
Ph: 1300 558 862