This guideline covers recognising, assessing and treating bipolar disorder (formerly known as manic depression) in children, young people and adults. The recommendations apply to bipolar I, bipolar II, mixed affective and rapid cycling disorders. It aims to improve access to treatment and quality of life in people with bipolar disorder.

In February 2016, we updated this guideline to link to the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency’s (MHRA) toolkit to ensure female patients are better informed about the risks of taking valproate during pregnancy.


This guideline includes recommendations on:

Who is it for?

  • Healthcare professionals
  • People working in occupational health, social services and the independent sector
  • Children, young people and adults with bipolar disorder
  • Families of and people who care for children, young people and adults with bipolar disorder

Guideline development process

How we develop NICE guidelines

This guideline updates and replaces bipolar disorder: the management of bipolar disorder in adults, children and adolescents, in primary and secondary care (CG38).

Next review: 2017

This guideline was previously called bipolar disorder: the assessment and management of bipolar disorder in adults, children and young people in primary and secondary care.

Your responsibility

The recommendations in this guideline represent the view of NICE, arrived at after careful consideration of the evidence available. When exercising their judgement, professionals are expected to take this guideline fully into account, alongside the individual needs, preferences and values of their patients or service users. The application of the recommendations in this guideline is not mandatory and the guideline does not override the responsibility of healthcare professionals to make decisions appropriate to the circumstances of the individual patient, in consultation with the patient and/or their carer or guardian.

Local commissioners and/or providers have a responsibility to enable the guideline to be applied when individual health professionals and their patients or service users wish to use it. They should do so in the context of local and national priorities for funding and developing services, and in light of their duties to have due regard to the need to eliminate unlawful discrimination, to advance equality of opportunity and to reduce health inequalities. Nothing in this guideline should be interpreted in a way that would be inconsistent with compliance with those duties.

Commissioners and providers have a responsibility to promote an environmentally sustainable health and care system and should assess and reduce the environmental impact of implementing NICE recommendations wherever possible.

  • National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE)