Bipolar Disorder

Formerly known as “manic depression,” people with bipolar disorder experience periods where they are depressed, and one or more separate manic periods.  Mania can range from mild to severe.

Symptoms of mania may include:

  • Racing thoughts or being unable to complete thoughts
  • Feeling of intense euphoria or well being (emotional “highs”)
  • Excessive, seemingly unending energy
  • Rapid speech; speech that is difficult to follow
  • Sleeplessness, sometimes for days at a time, or sleeping very little and feeling little need for sleep
  • Feeling driven to accomplish lofty projects and tasks
  • Distractability, sometimes experienced as flitting from task to task and getting nothing done
  • Spending money excessively and more than is usual for the person; making unwise purchases
  • Risky behaviour such as driving recklessly, unsafe sex, shoplifting
  • Marked impairment in work, school or social functioning
  • Feeling grandiose and self-important, sometimes to the point of believing that one is a religious figure, head of state, or of divine, philosophical importance
  • Lack of insight that there has been, in some cases, a loss of contact with reality
  • Hearing voices that are perceived as coming from outside the person’s head

I currently meet with individuals at my Vancouver office with bipolar disorder (type 2) who are currently:

  • In a depressive phase of their illness
  • Are looking for strategies for minimizing future depressive or manic episodes
  • Have recovered from a recent manic episode and are requesting support in dealing with the aftermath, and in some cases trauma, of that experience
  • Are symptom-free but are seeking to make other life changes
  • Are seeking assistance with maintaining current gains

I also work with family members who are requesting emotional support or assistance in negotiating the public mental health system.

While it is common for my clients with bipolar disorder to also be under the care of a private psychiatrist, I am unfortunately not able to work with clients who are currently under the care of a community mental health team, as my involvement could inadvertently complicate or interfere with the treatment you are receiving.

My private practice is not an appropriate setting for those in an acute manic state. It is particularly important to be assessed by a medical professional if mania is suspected. Intervention often needs to be rapid in order to avoid danger to the person’s well being or personal/family situation. Hearing voices, particularly voices telling you to harm yourself or someone else, is a medical emergency. Call 9-1-1 or proceed to your hospital emergency department now.

Related Articles

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)

May 2011 In Anxiety, Depression

A rundown on one of my favourite therapies.

Depression: Help and Treatment

May 2011 In Depression

Understanding treatment options for depression.

Depression Tips

May 2011 In Depression

The best strategies for dealing with depression often come from those with lived experience and have wisdom to share. A few counsellor tips are thrown in too.

Recommended Books


College of Physicians and Surgeons of BC

For help in locating a family doctor in BC.

Canadian Mental Health Association

National organization promoting mental health for all.

Vancouver Access and Assessment Centre (AAC)

604-675-3700 – Joseph and Rosalie Segal Centre, Vancouver Hospital, Level 1, East Entrance

24/7 phone, walk-in and outreach support for urgent, non life-threatening mental health and addictions issues.


24-7 crisis service for anyone that is suicidal, thinking about suicide or for concerned friends/family. BC-wide service.

SAFER, Vancouver Coastal Health

Works to reduce suicide risk among those in crisis, to assist family & friends who care about them and promote healing for those bereaved by suicide.

Coping With Suicidal Thoughts

Self-help guide (pdf). Not intended to replace professional help.

Antidepressant Skills Workbook

Free self-care manual for depression, available in several languages. Persons with major depression should also seek help from a physician and/or professional counselling.

Mood Disorders Association of BC

 – Support groups, education, info and referral to people living with depression or bipolar disorder and their supporters. The MDA also has a counselling clinic.