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BPI is a lifelong, chronic, relapsing and remitting disease, which means a person’s symptoms might be worse at times (relapse) or might be improved or gone at other times (remission).

Bipolar I disorder is characterized by manic episodes (periods of unusually high mood and energy), which can start gradually and may not always be obvious. These periods may be accompanied by major depressive or hypomanic episodes (shorter and less intense periods of elevated mood and energy).

BPI affects people all around you; about 1 to 2% of adults worldwide suffer from bipolar disorder. Bipolar disorder is no one’s fault. It does not come from a “weak” or unstable personality. It is a medical disorder that can be treated.

Early signs of
bipolar relapse

If you’re a caregiver, friend, or family member looking out for someone with bipolar I disorder, there are some warning signs and signals that can help you identify relapse early in its course.

Keep watch for signs or symptoms of a manic episode, such as:

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Typical signs of mania

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Decreased need for sleep

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Higher energy level and confidence
(often includes taking on many tasks)

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Trouble settling down to work

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Strong feelings or disagreements
(more than usual)

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Making decisions impulsively
(more than usual)


Is my loved one experiencing a relapse?

Take this short quiz to find out right arrow in a circle

NOTE: These are typical signs of mania that may be experienced as part of BPI.


  • Anxiousness
  • Restlessness
  • Remorse after dangerous behaviours
  • Insomnia
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These feelings and behaviours will often trigger them to get help, even though they may enjoy being in a manic state at the beginning.

Friends, family, and loved ones often recognize early signs of bipolar relapse before the patient is aware of them.

It is important to make sure you are part of your loved one’s relapse prevention plan. With the right encouragement and support, patients can work with their psychiatrist to actively participate in their own treatment plan to help manage their symptoms and/or prevent bipolar relapse.

Bipolar relapses can get worse and worse (for example, they can get longer or more severe).


· Trouble concentrating at work or school

· An inability to socialize (potentially affecting relationships with friends and family)

· Worsened functioning over time

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· Physical changes in the brain

· Worsening cognitive impairment


Treatment of bipolar disorder generally begins with the goal of bringing a patient with acute mania or depression to symptomatic recovery and a stable mood.

A maintenance treatment plan can begin once the patient has a stable mood, to reduce the risk and frequency of symptom relapse.

Is this a bipolar relapse?

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The following short quiz can help you identify potential warning signs of relapse

Spotting and Discussing Relapse Guide Preview

Are you noticing changes?

Get your Spotting and Discussing Relapse Guide