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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

  • Sep 15, 2017
Telepsychiatry: Advances and Challenges

The use of telepsychiatry is increasing in the primary care settings, including pediatrician’s offices, and in schools where psychiatrists or other mental health professionals can collaborate with teachers and other school staff.

  • Sep 14, 2017
Losing a Sibling to Suicide

September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, a time for mental health advocates and professionals, survivors, allies and community members to raise awareness, share resources and work to prevent suicide.

  • Sep 05, 2017
National Recovery Month 2017: Focusing on Access to Care in Rural Areas

September is National Recovery Month, sponsored annually by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Recovery Month is intended to raise awareness of mental health and substance use disorders and celebrate the people who recover.

Upcoming Events
Sep
2017
01
Monthly Webinars to Calm Anxious Minds
  • Fri,  Sep  01 - Sat,  Sep  30

Anxiety and Depression Association of America

Sep
2017
01
Find campus based events and support
  • Fri,  Sep  01 - Sat,  Sep  30

Active Minds

Sep
2017
01

Mental Health America

Sep
2017
01
Support Group Locator
  • Fri,  Sep  01 - Sat,  Sep  30

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

Sep
2017
01

National Alliance on Mental Illness

Sep
2017
01
Find a NAMI Family Support Group
  • Fri,  Sep  01 - Sat,  Sep  30

National Alliance on Mental Illness

Oct
2017
01
Mental Illness Awareness Week
  • Sun,  Oct  01 - Sat,  Oct  07

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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Have a Story of Your Own to Share?

Editor's Choice

AUG 4, 2017

Sleepless Nights, Risky Behavior, and Depression: What It's Really Like to Live With Bipolar II Disorder

Health.com

Most people have heard of bipolar I 1 disorder just the term bipolar, which involves dramatic shifts in mood, day-to-day functioning, and energy level. Living with bipolar I typically means having at least one manic episode followed by a period of depression. I didn’t meet the criteria for bipolar I disorder. But I did meet the criteria for bipolar II. I'd had at least one major depressive episode. But let's be clear: neither disorder is better or worse than the other.

JULY 31, 2017

23andMe studying depression, bipolar

CNBC

23andMe is launching a new research study with the Milken Institute and Lundbeck.

The goal is to better understand the underlying biology of depressive and bipolar disorders.

JULY 25, 2017

We Need to Talk About Postpartum Bipolar Disorder

SELF

The greater public perception of postpartum depression and postpartum psychosis is promising. However, there is scant awareness of postpartum bipolar disorder, and it is often overlooked or misunderstood by medical professionals.

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