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Help With Bipolar Disorders

Curated and updated for the community by APA

Bipolar disorders are brain disorders that cause changes in a person’s mood, energy and ability to function. Bipolar disorder is a category that includes three different conditions — bipolar I, bipolar II and cyclothymic disorder.

See definition, symptoms, & treatment

  • May 11, 2017
Mental Health Month and Prevention Week: Focus on Teen Behaviors and Warning Signs

May is Mental Health Month, and the third week in May is National Prevention Week, an annual health observance focused on raising awareness about the importance of substance use prevention and positive mental health. You can join online to view the live kickoff event for National Prevention Week on May 15, at 11:00 a.m. EDT.

  • May 09, 2017
Motivational Interviewing: Empowering People to Change

Motivational interviewing is a counseling technique to help people change behaviors. It involves “collaborative conversation to strengthen a person’s own motivation for and commitment to change.”

  • May 01, 2017
Childhood Lead Exposure Can Still Have an Impact Many Years Later

he ongoing water crisis in Flint, Mich., has brought concerns over lead poisoning back into the public’s attention, but the problem of lead exposure is not isolated to Flint. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, at least half a million U.S. children age 1 to 5 have elevated lead levels (above 5 micrograms per deciliter).

Upcoming Events
May
2017
15
Monthly Webinars to Calm Anxious Minds
  • Mon,  May  15 - Wed,  May  31

Anxiety and Depression Association of America

May
2017
15
Find campus based events and support
  • Mon,  May  15 - Wed,  May  31

Active Minds

May
2017
15

Mental Health America

May
2017
15
Support group locator
  • Mon,  May  15 - Wed,  May  31

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

Jun
2017
06
Educational Implications Facing Children with Bipolar Disorder
  • Kearny Mesa Library, San Diego, Calif.
  • Tue,  Jun  06
  • 6:00 PM

International Bipolar Foundation

Jun
2017
28
NAMI National Convention
  • Washington, D.C.
  • Wed,  Jun  28 - Sat,  Jul  01

How quickly does a person with bipolar disorder shift between highs and lows?

It depends. Mood shift frequency varies from person to person. A small number of patients may have many episodes within one day, shifting from mania (an episode where a person is very high-spirited or irritable) to depression. This has been described as “ultra-rapid cycling.” More

Does having one manic episode necessarily mean you will have more and will have depressive episodes?

Not necessarily. Studies have shown that approximately 10 percent of patients have a single episode only. However, the majority of patients have more than one. The number of episodes within a patient’s lifetime varies. Some individuals may have only two or three within their lifetime while others may have the same number within a single year. Frequency of episodes depends on many factors including the natural course of the condition as well as on appropriate treatment. Not taking medication or taking it incorrectly are frequent causes of episode recurrence. More

Can someone with bipolar disorder be treated without medication?

Although it is possible that during the natural course of the illness individual patients may get well without any medication, the challenge is that it is impossible to identify or determine beforehand who those fortunate patients are. Although some patients don’t get well or just have partial response to the best available treatments, on average — and for the vast majority of patients — the benefits of medications outweigh the risks. More

What is a “mixed episode?”

The term “mixed episode” was changed to “mixed features” in the last edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-5) published by the American Psychiatric Association in 2013. The new term may apply to either episodes of mania with additional symptoms of depression or the opposite, episodes of depression with additional symptoms of mania. The overall idea is that the presence of both mania and depression can exist at the same time. Symptoms of mania include elated mood, decreased need to sleep or racing thoughts. Symptoms of depression can include depressed mood, and feelings of hopelessness or worthlessness. More

Could my child have bipolar disorder?

It is possible for children to have bipolar disorder. This mental illness occurs in approximately 1 to 3 percent of the general population, and studies have shown that bipolar disorder has a genetic component. However it is also possible for bipolar disorder to appear in someone who has no family history of the disease. More

What can family members do to support a person with bipolar disorder?

Outcomes are always better when there is a strong family support network. Think of bipolar disorder as any other severe medical condition. However, also note that in many severe psychiatric conditions, patients may not be aware that they are ill. They may minimize the severity of their condition. The result of these factors may be that patients will not follow through on their treatment. In very severe cases, there may be instances of a lack of behavioral control where family members may not be able to look after their loved ones. In those cases, assistance from providers or even law enforcement agents may be necessary. More

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About the Expert:

Mauricio Tohen, M.D., Dr.PH, M.B.A.
Professor and Chairman, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center

Chelsea’s Story

Chelsea was a 43-year-old married librarian who came to an outpatient mental health clinic with a long history of depression. She described being depressed for a month since she began a new job. She had concerns that her new boss and colleagues thought her work was poor and slow, and that she was not friendly. She had no energy or enthusiasm at home. Instead of playing with her children or talking to her husband, she watched TV for hours, overate and slept long hours.

Read More

Have a Story of Your Own to Share?

Editor's Choice

FEB 17, 2017

Virginia Beach woman with bipolar disorder uses her own story to raise funds for advocacy

The Virginian-Pilot

Kim Ashby has some bedrock tools to raise money for mental health advocacy: Persistence. A network of friends, family and co-workers. And most important, her own story. “I have a mental illness myself,” she said at a National Alliance on Mental Illness function in Virginia Beach last week. Ashby was the top fundraiser in the state for the Virginia NAMI Walk in October. She raised $6,000, and was honored at an event at the Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art last week.

FEB 15, 2017

Ricki Lake's ex-husband has died after struggle with bipolar disorder

ABC News

Actress and former talk show host Ricki Lake has revealed that her ex-husband has died at age 45 after a lifelong battle with bipolar disorder. "The world didn't understand this man, but I did. He succumbed to his life long struggle with bipolar disorder. For anyone who has ever lost a family member or friend to mental illness, my heart goes out to you."

FEB 13, 2017

Local Health Professionals Develop App to Manage Bipolar Disorder

Rivard Report

Dr. Charles Bowden is a psychiatrist at UT Health San Antonio who saw the need for an easy-to-use tool for patients to manage bipolar symptoms better. He is one of the co-developers/investigators of the KIOS Bipolar app created in 2015 with funding from the National Institute of Mental Health. The app provides real time behavioral advice matched to an individual’s changing mental condition.

JAN 31, 2017

Brain Scans May Shed Light on Bipolar Disorder-Suicide Risk

HealthDay News

About half of people with bipolar disorder — marked by extreme mood swings — attempt suicide and as many as one in five dies by suicide, the study authors said. For the new study, teens and young adults with bipolar disorder underwent brain scans. Compared with those who had not attempted suicide, those who had attempted suicide had slightly less volume and activity in areas of the brain that regulate emotion and impulses, and in the white matter that connects those areas.

Resources

Bipolar Support Group


Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance


Healthy Minds Healthy Lives public television show


International Bipolar Foundation


International Society for Bipolar Disorders


Mental Health America


National Alliance on Mental Illness

Physician Review By:

Ranna Parekh, M.D., M.P.H.
January 2017