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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

  • Jul 13, 2018
Dialectical Behavior Therapy Can Help Teens at Risk of Suicide

Despite increased awareness and understanding of mental health issues, the tragedy of teen suicide and self-harm are growing problems in the U.S. Among teens and young adults age 10 to 24, suicide is the second-leading cause of death (after accidents), according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The rate of teen suicide has been on the rise for more than a decade. New research finds that specific type of psychotherapy, dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), may help save lives and prevent self-harm among high-risk teens.

  • May 07, 2018
Children's Mental Health Awareness Day: Focus on Childhood Trauma

National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day, May 10, this year focuses on Partnering for Health and Hope Following Trauma. The observance highlights the importance of an integrated health approach to supporting children, youth and young adults with serious emotional disturbance who have experienced trauma.

  • Feb 08, 2018
Disparities in Health Care: Race, Ethnicity and Gender

It is well-established that adults with mental health disorders spend more on medical care than adults without mental illness, and members of racial and ethnic minority groups have in the past often had less access to care. Researchers led by Judith Weissman, Ph.D., J.D. with the Icahn School of Medicine at Mt. Sinai, New York, wanted to evaluate the impact the Affordable Care Act has had on ethnic, racial and gender disparities in access to health care among adults with mental health conditions.

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Support Group Locator
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Family to Family Training – Find a Local Training
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National Alliance on Mental Illness

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.

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Editor's Choice

MAY 10, 2018

Handgrip Strength Predicts Cognitive Function in Bipolar Disorder, Major Depression

Neurology Advisory

According to a multicenter study published in JAMA Psychiatry, handgrip strength is a reliable predictor of cognitive impairment among patients with bipolar disorder and major depression. Investigators conducted assessment of cognitive function with a computerized task battery, which measured 5 total cognitive domains (visuospatial memory, reaction time, reasoning, prospective memory, numeric memory). 

MAY 8, 2018

Bipolar disorder with a bird's-eye view

Street Roots News

TheZack McDermott’s memoir, ‘Gorilla and the Bird,’ describes his experience with bipolar disorder, the failure of the criminal justice system when it comes to mental health, and the unconditional support from his mother, ‘Bird.’.

MAY 4, 2018

5 Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder You Should Know

Menshealth.com

Now that she's talking more about her bipolar diagnosis, you can add gutsy memoirist and mental health advocate to her resume. In her new memoir, The Mother of Black Hollywood, the 60-year-old talks about the ups and downs of her legendary life—including her experience with bipolar disorder.

 
Resources

Additional Resources and Organizations

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 Reviewed

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