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Is there such a thing as “day/night bipolar disorder?”



New member
Aug 13, 2009

I’m a 43-year-old woman. When I was 17, I was hospitalised for major depression and diagnosed with bipolar disorder while hospitalised. I was on medication for a few years, then stopped taking it. Because I was able to go off medication completely without any ill effects, my psychiatrist said that I must have been misdiagnosed because if I was really bipolar, I would have to take medication for the rest of my life, and that I was depressed because of growing up in a difficult environment.

I was mentally healthy and medication free for about 20 years, despite going through some very stressful times, so I always agreed with my psychiatrist's opinion, that I was mentally healthy and my depression had been a reaction to conditions around me.

Then, when I was 39, I moved from the US to the UK. About a year later, in the autumn I developed a condition where I couldn’t sleep at night. Sometimes, I could go for 2 to 3 nights straight with 0 sleep; sometimes even a prescription sleeping pill wouldn’t help. At night, I would become very agitated. I would let out involuntary, uncontrollable screams and my legs would kick. I would also become extremely depressed and have thoughts about killing myself.

The weird thing is, as soon as the morning came, I would feel, emotionally, personally fine. I would be forgetful and have difficulty concentrating, as any “normal” person would who had gone for that long without sleep, but my depression and agitation would completely go away.

I took antidepressants, which helped the feeling of depression go away, and sleeping pills to help me sleep, and the problem seemed to go away by spring/summer.

I didn’t have any problem the following autumn, but I had an early miscarriage so hormones may have changed things.

The problems started again in December the year after that.

I thought that it might be some kind of seasonal affective disorder, since it happened after I moved to a more northern latitutde, but I couldn’t get that diagnosis because it didn’t happen every year. Also, people with SAD are usually lethargic and oversleep in the winter, and in the winter I can’t sleep.

I had a sleep study and my sleep cycle is normal and I do not have restless leg syndrome.

Could this be some form of bipolar disorder, since when it happens I’m like a completely different person at night than I am during the day? Not sleeping for two or three nights in a row sounds like mania (I’ve never experienced severe mania in my past, just depression), but I’m depressed at the same time and I’m worried about not getting enough sleep,whereas I’ve heard that people with mania don’t care about not sleeping because they don’t feel that they need sleep.

Also, why would bipolar disorder (if that's what it is) reoccur after 20 years? Could it have to do with my move to the UK? Could it have to do with the fact that I’m in my early 40s and getting closer to menopause? By the way, when I was hospitalised for depression when I was a teenager, I was depressed all the time for months before my depression became so bad it required hospitalisation.

I would really like to find out what is wrong with me. I had to leave my last job because I was being treated as incapable of doing my job because I had taken so much time off due to insomnia, which caused me more stress which made the sleeping problem worse, so I quit before I thought I was going to get fired.

Because I don’t have a diagnosis, my employment records just say I was off work due to “insomnia” – which is what my doctor put down on my medical notes – so to a prospective new employer it just looks like I didn’t feel like coming in to work because I didn’t get as many hours of sleep that I would have liked. (I know that some people complain that they have insomnia if they get less than 7 or 8 hours of sleep.)

Because, technically I voluntarily left my job, I can’t get any unemployment benefits. (I did not say that I was leaving because of stress because I wanted to put a positive spin on things. I said I left to do something better.)

If anyone has any clue on what this could be and provide me with some links to information that I could bring to my GP, it would be very helpful.

Thanks for reading my very long post.
Last edited:


Well-known member
Aug 6, 2010
I cant see that it could be anything other than a bipolar mood disorder. You need to find a specialist in mood disorders. I hope you can sort it out.


Well-known member
Apr 14, 2010
Cool St, Coolville
I think it's possible that you have always had bipolar but have somehow managed to cope through those 20 years of no meds. I really couldn't say for sure, but what that first psych said to you about if you don't have to take meds then it can't be bipolar doesn't sound right to me. I'm still new to this, and although I was diagnosed 4 years ago, after suffering pretty much 19 years of my life, i am still waiting for a diagnosis atm as 4 years ago, i thought i was fine (actually manic) so I stopped receiving treatment. It's just the bit where you say you've been through some very stressful times. Of course everyone has that in their lives - I guess I mean to ask to what extent stressful? Can you remember severe depressions and highs during those years? Like I say I'm new to really reading up about stuff, but from what I've read someone doesn't always have it - episodes can be brought on by stress, some people do not have their first episode until much later on in life, so i'm thinking it may also be possible to have it from early on and then maybe have a seemingly normal period for weeks months or possibly even years, until it rears it's horns again. Maybe. I'd like to think that, I mean I've really struggled every year, every day of my life, but there have also been some weeks where everything is just ok. Not exactly 'normal', but liveable. and I've never taken meds for long enough to say if they help or not. the point i'm at now tho I think i've realised I will need some medication when I can (when I'm not pregnant or breastfeeding, as currently 5 months pregnant) just to level out for a bit.
please speak to your gp. And also if you've had to leave your job on health based conditions, you should be able to get a doctors note and claim some sort of sickness pay (I know you say you're originally from the US, but i'm gathering if you are eligible for jobseekers, same should apply to other benefits)
your gp should be able to refer you and you can talk in more depth about what you've been experiencing, and also your medical history. Good luck, and also welcome to this forum, i hope it will be of help to you, you've definitely come to the right place. xx
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