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Paul goes to the beach with his friends. On the way to the beach he is extremely talkative and cheery. He brags about how he does not need to sleep anymore because he has so much energy. He is full of new and brilliant ideas and doesnt understand why his friends cant see how smart he really is. Hes invincible! He feels great! Why is everyone around him so slow these days?

As the day goes by he demands more and more attention and when his friends dont listen he screams at them to be quiet. His friends think hes weird but they are also getting worried.

The following week Paul is invited to go to the beach again. But this time, he cant even get out of bed. He has no interest in seeing his friends – or anyone for that matter. Everything feels dull and black. Did he ever have a good day? Why cant he just snap out of it? Nothing cheers him up and he feels as if nothing ever could again. How was it possible to feel such emotional extremes? Does anybody else ever feel this way…

Source: AMIQuébec


Yes! There are many other people who feel this way. This mental illness is present in about 1% of the population. Medication is often much more necessary for successful treatment than with other disorders.

  • Dramatic mood swings, causing the person to experience states of mania (highs), and depression (lows). These swings can impact the persons ability to function at work, school or in relationships.
  • Mania: lots of energy, undertakes many activities, bursts of creativity, functions on very little sleep. These feelings can increase to an extreme continuous elevated mood, during which the individuals self-esteem may be exaggerated, or may be accompanied by irritability, pressured speech (going from one topic to another very quickly), or the person may be distractible. It is possible that they may not notice anything is wrong, and may even enjoy the feelings associated with being in a state of mania.
  • As mania diminishes, the individual may become disorganized, hyper sexualized, engage in extreme overspending, and/or become irritable. They may stay in this period for as long as 3 months, and then cycle into a period of major depression.
  • Delusions: they may be convinced they will win the jackpot”, gambling can be out of control; religious delusions (an agent of God).
  • An individual may have a mix of mania/depression at the same time.
  • In severe cases (as in Type I Bipolar Disorder) the person may experience psychosis (a state of being out of touch with reality), such as hallucinations (hearing or seeing things that are not there), or delusions (believing things that are not true).

A milder and less impairing form of mania. During a hypomanic episode, the person may have an elevated mood, reporting that they feel better than usual and may be more productive. Hypomania however can rarely be maintained and is often followed by an increased high (mania) or a crash (depression).


Symptoms of depression are often intense, persistent feelings of sadness, hopelessness and frustration. Sometimes this is accompanied by feelings of guilt and worthlessness, anger and irritability. Changes may occur in the persons appetite or weight, and they may have difficulty sleeping. Thinking may slow down, and the person may have trouble concentrating, and making decisions. At extreme levels, depression can also cause psychosis (hallucinations or delusions). Suicide becomes a risk. Contrary to popular belief, depression is not something that someone can snap out of.” It can have a significant impact on an individuals ability to function in relationships, work, school and even day to day tasks.



The person has manic episodes and almost always experiences a depression at some stage. The person may also experience psychosis (out of touch with reality, including hallucinations and delusions).


The individual experiences hypomanic and depressive episodes (not full blown mania). This can be harder to recognize, because hypomania may go unnoticed if the person copes well and avoids getting into trouble, while remaining productive.


Individuals who rapid cycle, have at least 4 episodes per year of any combination of manic, hypomanic or depressive episodes. Rapid cycling can be caused or worsened by anti-depressants.


Mania and depression occur at the same time or alternate frequently throughout the day. As a result of this combination of highs and lows, this state presents the greatest risk for suicide.


A milder form of bipolar disorder, where cycles of hypomania and depression are shorter and less intense. Episodes often last for days rather than weeks.


 In order to prevent complete mania, it helps to know your own early warning signs (or those of your loved one). The following are some examples of early warning signs for some people:

Insomnia, surges of energy, flight of ideas, writing pressure, sleeping much less, others seem slow, speech pressure, making lots of plans, irritability, spending too much money, unnecessary phone calls, wanting to keep moving, increased appetite, euphoria, feeling superior, increased creativity, over ambition, taking on too much responsibility, nervous and wound up, anxious, overly self-involved, negativism, feeling unreal, more sensitive than usual, out of touch with reality, inappropriate behavior, poor judgement, oblivious, increased alcohol consumption, dangerous driving, increased community involvement, tingly feeling, friends notice behavior change, inappropriate anger, money loses its value, difficulty staying still, restlessness, compulsive eating, feeling great, feeling very important, obsessions, unusual bursts of enthusiasm, very productive, doing several things at once, inability to concentrate, outbursts of temper, disorganization.


I Am Not Sick, I Dont Need Help!” By Dr. Xavier Amador. Dr. Amador explains how lack of awareness can be a symptom of psychosis. This book describes the LEAP approach (Listen, Empathize, Agree & Partner). Dr. Amador explains how to use this technique to communicate with your loved one who may be lacking awareness, and how to help them seek help despite.

Certain clinics do accept clients that are not registered or do not have a family doctor. To find a clinic near you, click here

Mental Health Estrie offers support groups for family and friends who have a loved one coping with a mental illness.  For more information, click here.

Mental Health Estrie offers support groups for individuals coping with a lived experience of mental illness. For more information, click here.

Organizations and Resources Available

The following is a list of mental health resources in and outside of the Estrie region. Please call ahead to confirm the availability of bilingual services.

JEVI Centre de prevention du suicide – Estrie


 120, 11e Avenue Nord, Sherbrooke QC, J1E 2T8
Line of Action: 
1-866-APPELLE (277-3553)
Phone (Administrative): 
Fax: 819-564-4486

JEVI is a community organization whose aim is to prevent suicide and promote well-being in the Eastern Townships population. From 1986 to 2000, JEVI offered services to individuals under the age of 25, their parents and close friends and to the professionals working with youth.
Since June 2000, JEVI has been acknowledged as the Suicide Prevention Center for the Eastern Townships region by the Régie régionale de la santé et des services sociaux de l’Estrie. Consequently, services were adapted or developed in order to adequately respond to the needs of the general population of the Eastern Townships region (youth, adults and the elderly).
JEVI offers a complete line of services in promotion, prevention, intervention and postvention actions associated with suicide prevention.

Prevention and Early Intervention Program for Psychosis (PEPP-Montréal)


Douglas Institute Wilson Pavilion, 6875 LaSalle Boulevard, Montreal, (Quebec) H4H 1R3
Phone: 514-888-4453
Fax: 514-888-4458

Information on first episode of psychosis in Montreal, QC. This is a highly recommended program but it must be the individual’s first episode of psychosis.
“One of the most important ways to improve outcome in psychosis is to initiate treatment early… individuals receiving optimum treatment within six months following onset of psychosis have better recovery than those receiving treatment after a delay greater than six months.”  – PEPP
Go to for more resources.

Psychosis Support


A peer support website for families dealing with a loved one who has psychosis.

Mood Disorders Canada Online Discussion Forum


MDSC provides a safe, supportive virtual place to discuss mental illness in our online Discussion Forum. With over 29,000 posts and more than 1,900 discussion threads in operation, if you need somewhere to look for support and guidance this is a great first step! We encourage you to Visit our Forum.

CHUS (Centre hospitalier universitaire de Sherbrooke)


Address: 3001 12e Ave N, Sherbrooke, QC, J1H 5N4

Phone: 819-346-1110

Addictions/dependencies & mental disorders; help for consumers and family members; bilingual services.

Provincial suicide crisis line

Phone: 1-866-APPELLE (277-3553)

Quebec National Crisis Line

Open 24/7

HeretoHelp: Mental health and substance use information


HeretoHelp is a project of the BC Partners for Mental Health and Addictions Information.

We are a group of seven leading mental health and addictions non-profit agencies. Since 2003, weve been working together to help people live well and better prevent and manage mental health and substance use problems. You can learn more about our vision here.

BC Partners work is funded by BC Mental Health and Substance Use Services, an agency of the Provincial Health Services Authority. We also receive some additional support from the Ministry of Children and Family Development. Thanks also to our corporate sponsors for helping to fund our translated resources.

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