Bipolarlife Newsletter November 2018

Issue 107 

November 2018

Bipolar Life Victoria

Upcoming Support Groups Meetings

click group location for further information

click group location for further information


The Bipolar Life ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING is to be held on Monday 10th December 2018.

Mental Health Foundation, Suite J – 450 Chapel Street South Yarra

Commences: 7:30pm                           Refreshments provided.

Come along and have your say!


Causes of Bipolar Disorder

Why do we get bipolar disorder?

There are a number of factors that are believed to cause bipolar disorder. They include:

  • genetics
  • environmental factors
  • physical illnesses

For some people, the onset of bipolar disorder is linked to a stressful life event.

Genetic factors  

Bipolar disorder is frequently inherited, with genetic factors accounting for approximately 80% of the cause of the condition.

Bipolar disorder is the most likely psychiatric disorder to be passed down from family.

If one parent has bipolar disorder, there’s a 10% chance that their child will develop the illness.

If both parents have bipolar disorder, the likelihood of their child developing bipolar disorder rises to 40%.

However, just because one family member has the illness does not mean that other family members will develop bipolar disorder.

We still need more research to fully understand the role of genetics in development of bipolar disorder.

Environmental factors

  • Stressful life events

The onset of bipolar disorder can sometimes be linked to stressful life events.

People with bipolar disorder can find it beneficial to learn ways of managing and reducing stress as emotional pressure can trigger relapse.

  • Seasonal factors

While not a direct cause, seasonal factors appear to play a role in the       onset of bipolar disorder, with the chance of onset increasing in spring.

The rapid increase in hours of bright sunshine is thought to trigger depression and mania by affecting the pineal gland.

Physical illness

Physical illness by itself is not a cause of bipolar disorder, but in some instances can cause symptoms that could be confused with mania or hypo-mania.

Some medications (such as steroids) and certain illicit stimulant drugs can also cause manic and hypo-manic symptoms.


Antidepressants can trigger manic or hypo-manic episodes in some people. It’s important to report any unusual symptoms to your prescribing doctor while on these medications.

Certain substances can lead to a high that resembles mania. These include:

  • drugs like cocaine, ecstasy and amphetamines
  • medicine for hormonal problems like prednisone or other corticosteroids
  • very large amounts of caffeine.

Pregnancy and perinatal period

Bipolar disorder can begin during pregnancy or after the birth of a baby. This might be a first episode, or a continuation or relapse of the condition.

Women who have previously experienced bipolar disorder or who have a family history of the condition are at an increased risk of an episode at this time.

It’s important to be aware of the early warning signs, and for family and friends to be aware of these symptoms.

There are special considerations that need to be made in treating bipolar disorder in pregnant and breastfeeding women. Some medications may be harmful to the developing baby, and careful management by a psychiatrist and other medical staff is needed at this time.

Always talk to your GP or a mental health professional if you are planning a pregnancy, or are pregnant and are experiencing symptoms of bipolar disorder.

Ongoing care during pregnancy and after birth is very important.

What can we do to recover from bipolar disorder?

When our mood swings are taking over the way we function in everyday life, it’s important to get help.

There are effective treatments for bipolar disorder, from medications to psychological therapies and lifestyle changes.

There are also lots of things you can do to help yourself. Often it’s a combination of things that help us get better, such as:

  • a well-informed team of health professionals you feel comfortable talking to
  • the right medical and psychological therapies
  • a well-being plan to keep you on track
  • support from family and friends
  • keeping up regular sleep, exercise and healthy eating
  • learning to recognize warning signs and triggers for relapse.

Our Stories


For Kiara being diagnosed with bipolar I took a long time and the first symptoms of her condition started when she had her first daughter 28 years ago.

During Kiara’s second pregnancy it was clear to her and the midwifes who were looking after her, that something was not right and she could suffer from prenatal depression. She got referred to a professor of psychiatry who specialised in pre and postnatal depression, but got wrongly diagnosed.

In 2009 Kiara got diagnosed with bipolar I, which had an immense impact on her marriage, as her husband realised this illness will stay with his wife forever and he couldn’t cope with the diagnosis and Kiara’s episodes anymore. Every time she went into mania he slipped into a depression and was unable to support his wife.
Unfortunately Kiara’s treating psychiatrist did not take in consideration what immense impact her condition had on her husband and children as he never included them in the treatment plan or inform her husband of the illness his wife was battling with.

The psychiatrist also did not adjust Kiara’s medication depending on episodes of mania or depression and he did not help her find her triggers and explain to her the importance of a strong support team, which sadly led to very extreme manic episodes in which Kiara for example would book holidays overseas, buy a car, spend thousands of dollars on jewellery and also became hyper sexual.

Hyper sexuality is very common in people with bipolar condition and it leads to immense guilt, shame and reckless behaviour, which can lead to marriage breakdowns or even STD (sexual transmitted diseases).

Kiara started to have out of marriage affairs and  one evening her youngest daughter saw her with a man she had an affair with. Her daughter told her father about it,  which led to a complete marriage and family breakdown. Her husband told Kiara she couldn’t come back to their family home.

After the evenful evening Kiara had to be hospitalised in a psychiatric ward. She ended up in emergency accommodation as she had no where to go. Since then she lived with a cousin of hers for a short time, various strangers places and finally found a friend with whom she could move in permanently in Sydney.

He got offered a job in Melbourne 3 years ago and he asked Kiara to move with him, which she agreed to as sadly her relationship to her husband and two daughters completely broke down and even though Kiara had attempted many times to contact her children, they refused to talk or write to her.

Moving to Melbourne made a big difference in Kiara’s life and she found a great psychiatrist who was able to put her on the right medication and is constantly monitoring her condition and medication.

She feels her life is getting on the right track due to a strong support team and building wonderful friendships. She has also learned to say NO when she feels the urge of a shopping spree coming on and in those times she avoids the shops all together.

She strongly believes to master the journey of bipolar you need a good psychiatrist and a helpful and reliable support team.

Kiara had a very rough road behind her, but she learned to live with her bipolar condition and she’s hoping one day her daughters can realise that she is a loving mother, who has an illness but who IS NOT the illness, and they can have a loving and caring relationship again.

Interested In Earlier Newsletters?

To subscribe:  To unsubscribe: