Bipolar Disorder

Topic Overview

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This topic discusses bipolar disorder in adults. If you are concerned that your child or teen may have bipolar disorder, see the topic Bipolar Disorder in Children and Teens.

What is bipolar disorder?

Bipolar disorder is an illness that causes extreme mood changes from manic episodes of very high energy to the extreme lows of depression. It is also called manic-depressive disorder.

This illness can cause behavior so extreme that you cannot function at work, in family or social situations, or in relationships with others. Some people with bipolar disorder become suicidal.

Having this disorder can make you feel helpless and hopeless. But you are not alone. Talking with others who suffer from it may help you learn that there is hope for a better life. And treatment can help you get back in control.

Family members often feel helpless when a loved one is depressed or manic. If your loved one has bipolar disorder, you may want to get counseling for yourself. Therapy can also help a child who has a bipolar parent.

What causes bipolar disorder?

The cause of bipolar disorder is not completely understood. We know that it runs in families. It may also be affected by your living environment or family situation. One possible cause is an imbalance of chemicals in the brain.

What are the symptoms?

The symptoms depend on your mood swings. In a manic episode, you may feel very happy, energetic, or on edge. You may feel like you need very little sleep. You may feel overly self-confident. Some people spend a lot of money or get involved in dangerous activities when they are manic.

After a manic episode, you may return to normal, or your mood may swing in the opposite direction to feelings of sadness, depression, and hopelessness. When you are depressed, you may have trouble thinking and making decisions. You may have memory problems. You may lose interest in things you have enjoyed in the past. You may also have thoughts about killing yourself.

The mood swings of bipolar disorder can be mild or extreme. They may come on slowly over several days or weeks or suddenly over a few minutes or hours. The mood swings may last for a few hours or for several months.

How is bipolar disorder diagnosed?

Bipolar disorder is hard to diagnose. There are no lab tests for it. Instead, your doctor or therapist will ask detailed questions about what kind of symptoms you have and how long they last. To be diagnosed with bipolar I disorder, you must have had a manic episode lasting at least a week (less if you had to be hospitalized). During this time, you must have had three or more symptoms of mania, such as needing less sleep, being more talkative, behaving wildly or irresponsibly in activities that could have serious outcomes, or feeling as if your thoughts are racing. In bipolar II disorder, the manic episode may be less severe and shorter.

Your urine and blood may be tested to rule out other problems that could be causing your symptoms.

How is it treated?

The sooner bipolar disorder is identified and treated, the better your chances of getting it under control. One of the most important parts of dealing with a manic episode is recognizing the early warning signs so that you can start treatment early with medicine that is especially for manic phases.

A variety of medicines is used to treat bipolar disorder. You may need to try several before you find the right combination that works for you.

  • Most people with bipolar disorder need to take a medicine called a mood stabilizer every day.
  • Medicines called antipsychotics can help get a manic phase under control.
  • Antidepressants are used carefully for episodes of depression, because they cause some people to move into a manic phase.

People often have to try several different medicines before finding what works for them. Regular checkups are important so that your doctor can tell if your treatment is working.

Counseling for you and your family is also an important treatment. It can help you cope with some of the work and relationship issues that your illness may cause.

Charting your mood is one way you can start to see your patterns and symptoms. Keep a notebook of your feelings and what brought them on. If you learn what triggers your mood swings, you may be able to avoid them sometimes.

People often stop taking their medicines during a manic phase because they feel good. But this is a mistake. You must take your medicines regularly, even if you are feeling better.

Who is affected by bipolar disorder?

Over 3 million Americans—about 1% of the population, or 1 in every 100 people—have bipolar disorder, with similar rates in other countries.1 Bipolar disorder occurs equally among males and females. It often begins between the ages of 15 and 24.2

Frequently Asked Questions

Learning about bipolar disorder:

Being diagnosed:

Getting treatment:

Ongoing concerns:

Living with bipolar disorder:

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  Bipolar disorder: Preventing manic episodes
  Depression: Helping someone get treatment
  Depression: Supporting someone who is depressed

Cause

The cause of bipolar disorder is not well understood, although evidence suggests that the disorder runs in families.3 Your living environment and family situation may also play a role in the disorder. Episodes of depression and mania may be caused by a problem with certain brain chemicals called neurotransmitters.

Antidepressant medicines can trigger a manic episode in a person who has bipolar disorder. But this may occur before someone is diagnosed with bipolar disorder, while he or she is seeking treatment for an episode of depression.

Sleep deprivation or substance abuse, including caffeine, can cause a person with bipolar disorder to have a manic episode.

Symptoms

Bipolar disorder causes extreme mood swings, from feeling overly energetic (mania) to feeling very sad or having low energy (depression).3

Mania may cause a person to:

  • Feel extremely happy or very irritable.
  • Have a very high opinion of himself or herself (inflated self-esteem).
  • Not need as much sleep as usual (feel rested after 3 hours of sleep).
  • Talk more than usual.
  • Be more active than usual.
  • Have difficulty concentrating because of having too many thoughts at the same time (racing thoughts).
  • Be easily distracted by sights and sounds.
  • Act impulsively or do reckless things, such as go on shopping sprees, drive recklessly, get into foolish business ventures, or have frequent, indiscriminate, or unsafe sex.

Depression may cause a person to:

  • Feel sad or anxious for a significant time.
  • Feel hopeless or pessimistic.
  • Have slowed thoughts and speech because of low energy.
  • Have difficulty concentrating, remembering, and making decisions.
  • Have changes in eating and sleeping habits leading to too much or too little eating or sleeping.
  • Have decreased interest in usual activities, including sex.
  • Have suicidal thoughts.
  • Not enjoy things he or she normally would enjoy.

Types of bipolar disorder

  • Bipolar I. Considered the classic form of the illness, bipolar I causes recurrent episodes of mania and depression. The depression may last for a short time or for months. You may then go back to feeling normal for a time, or you may go right into a manic episode.
  • Bipolar II. If you have bipolar II, you will experience depression just as in bipolar I. But the episodes of mania are less severe (hypomania). People with bipolar II have more depressive episodes than hypomanic episodes.
  • Rapid-cycling bipolar disorder. If you have rapid-cycling bipolar disorder, you will experience at least four episodes of depression, mania, or both within a 12-month period. You may go directly from an episode of depression to an episode of mania, or you may have a short time lapse between the two extreme moods. The mood swings are the same as with other types of bipolar, but the frequency of mood swings distinguishes rapid-cycling bipolar disorder from the other subtypes.

Some people may have bipolar disorder with mixed symptoms, in which episodes of depression and mania occur together. Symptoms include sadness, euphoria, and irritability. Other symptoms can include agitation, lack of sleep, appetite changes, and possibly, thoughts of suicide. This makes the disorder challenging to treat and very frustrating for you and for those around you. It can also lead to hospitalization if your daily functioning becomes impaired.

In addition to changes in mood, some people with bipolar disorder also have symptoms of anxiety, panic attacks, or symptoms of psychosis.

Symptoms of bipolar disorder in children can be very different than those in adults and can be confused with other childhood mental disorders, such as depression or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Bipolar disorder in children significantly interferes with a child's ability to function in school, with friends, and at home.

Some other conditions with symptoms similar to bipolar disorder include depression, schizophrenia, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

People with bipolar disorder—men more often than women—may have substance abuse problems, especially during manic episodes.4 Abusing alcohol or drugs may affect treatment and interfere with taking medicines as prescribed. Other disorders that may occur along with bipolar disorder include:5

These illnesses need to be treated along with the bipolar disorder.

What Happens

With bipolar disorder, you alternate between episodes of depression and mania. In between, you may return completely to normal or have some remaining symptoms. The extreme mood changes may come on suddenly or appear more slowly.

During a manic episode, you may be abnormally happy, energetic, or very irritable for a week or more. Initially, you may feel incredibly productive or creative. You may feel powerful and seductive and think there is nothing you can't accomplish. But as a manic episode progresses, you may behave wildly and irresponsibly, spending a lot of money, getting involved in dangerous activities, and sleeping very little. You may also have a hard time functioning in your job and relationships.

After a manic episode, you may return to normal, or your mood may swing in the opposite direction and you may feel useless, hopeless, and extremely sad. When you are depressed, you may have trouble concentrating, remembering, and making decisions. You may have changes in your eating and sleeping habits. And you may lose interest in things you have enjoyed in the past. Some people become suicidal or harm themselves during episodes of depression. Some feel as if they can't move, care, or think.

Men tend to have more manic episodes, while women have more episodes of depression.6

Initially, stress may trigger depression or mania. But as the illness progresses, mood swings may not be caused by any specific event. Without treatment, your bipolar disorder may get worse, causing you to move more often between mania and depression.

People with bipolar disorder are more likely to have one or more risk factors of cardiovascular disease, including obesity, high blood pressure, and diabetes.7 Your physical health will be watched closely by your doctor.

What Increases Your Risk

Bipolar disorder can be passed down through families. If anyone in your family has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, your risk of developing it is higher.

If you have bipolar disorder, changes in sleep or daily routines can increase your risk for a manic episode. Antidepressant medicine can trigger a manic episode in someone who has bipolar disorder.8 But this may occur before someone is diagnosed with bipolar disorder, while he or she is seeking treatment for an episode of depression.

A stressful event may trigger an episode of mania or depression.

Your risk of either a depressive or manic episode increases if you do not take your medicines as prescribed by your doctor. It is common for people to stop taking their medicines during a manic phase when they feel good. Even if you are feeling better, you must take your medicines regularly to control bipolar disorder.

Alcohol or drug use or abuse puts you at a high risk for having a relapse of mood disturbances.5

When To Call a Doctor

If you have bipolar disorder, call 911 or other emergency servicesif you:

  • Think you cannot stop from harming yourself or someone else.
  • Hear voices that are new or more upsetting than normal.
  • Want to commit suicide, or you know someone who has mentioned wanting to commit suicide.

Warning signs of suicide include:

  • Use of illegal drugs or drinking alcohol heavily.
  • Talking, writing, or drawing about death, including writing suicide notes and speaking of items that can cause physical harm, such as pills, guns, or knives.
  • Spending long periods of time alone.
  • Giving away possessions.
  • Acting aggressive or suddenly appearing calm.

Watchful Waiting

Watchful waiting may be enough if a mood episode has just started and you are taking proper medicines. If your mood episode has not improved within 2 weeks, call your doctor.

If you have a loved one who is experiencing a manic episode and is behaving irrationally, help the person seek treatment.

Who To See

Bipolar disorder is complex and hard to diagnose because it has many phases and symptoms. Sometimes it is misdiagnosed as only depression (unipolar depression) because people are more likely to seek treatment during a period of depression.

After you are diagnosed with bipolar disorder, it is important to keep a long-term relationship with your doctor or therapist to make sure that your treatment is consistent and that your medicines can be adjusted as needed.

Although other health professionals can diagnose bipolar disorder, you will probably be referred to a psychiatrist who specializes in treating such disorders and can prescribe medicines and provide counseling. Other health professionals who can diagnose bipolar disorder include:

Counseling can help you deal with mood changes and the impact bipolar disorder can have on your work and family relationships. In addition to psychiatrists, health professionals who can provide counseling include:

Family member support

If a loved one has bipolar disorder, it may be helpful for you to get counseling to deal with its impact on your own life. Manic episodes can be particularly difficult. Consult a psychiatrist, psychologist, social worker, or licensed professional counselor for your own therapy.

Therapy can also be helpful for a child who has a bipolar parent. The parent's mood swings may negatively affect the child, causing tearfulness, anger, depression, or rebellious behavior.

To prepare for your appointment, see the topic Making the Most of Your Appointment.

Exams and Tests

There are no lab tests for bipolar disorder. Instead, your doctor will ask detailed questions about your symptoms, including how long they last and how often you have them. He or she will discuss your family history and may do a mental health assessment.

A mental health assessment tests your emotional functioning and your ability to think, reason, and remember. It includes an interview with a health professional, a physical exam, and written or verbal tests. During the interview, the health professional assesses your appearance, mood, behavior, thinking, reasoning, memory, ability to express yourself, and ability to maintain personal relationships.

Blood and urine tests, such as a test of your thyroid, may be done to make sure another problem is not causing your symptoms. A toxicology screen examines blood, urine, or hair for the presence of drugs.

Early Detection

The earlier bipolar disorder is diagnosed and treated, the better your chances of getting the illness under control and improving the quality of your life. Early detection and treatment can help reduce your risk of complications, such as alcohol and drug abuse or suicide.9

About 10% to 15% of people with bipolar disorder will die from suicide.3 Up to 60% of those with bipolar disorder develop drug and alcohol abuse problems, which interfere with successful treatment of the disorder.9

Treatment Overview

Although there is no cure for bipolar disorder, it can be effectively treated with a combination of medicines and counseling. It is important to take your medicines exactly as prescribed, even when you feel well. Your doctor may have to try different combinations of medicines to find what's right for you.

Initial treatment

The first treatment for bipolar disorder often happens in the "acute" phase, when a person may have his or her first manic episode. In the acute phase, you may be suicidal or psychotic or using such poor judgment that you are in danger of harming yourself. Your doctor may decide you should be hospitalized for your own safety, especially if he or she believes you are suicidal. Medicines that may be used for initial treatment include:

  • Mood stabilizers, such as lithium carbonate (for example, Eskalith and Lithobid). Experts believe lithium may affect certain brain chemicals (neurotransmitters) that cause mood changes, but how the medicine works is not completely understood.
  • Anticonvulsant mood stabilizers, such as valproate sodium (Depakene Syrup), divalproex (Depakote), and carbamazepine (Tegretol and Equetro) are also mood stabilizers. Valproate and divalproex are used to treat manic episodes. The anticonvulsant lamotrigine (Lamictal) was approved for the long-term maintenance treatment of bipolar I disorder and may be helpful for bipolar depression. Anticonvulsants can be helpful in hard-to-treat bipolar episodes. A mood stabilizer and an antipsychotic are often used as the first medicines for acute manic episodes.
  • Antipsychotics, such as olanzapine (Zyprexa), risperidone (Risperdal), quetiapine (Seroquel), and aripiprazole (Abilify). Antipsychotics can help improve symptoms in both manic and depressive episodes. They may be used in combination with mood stabilizers and anticonvulsants.
  • Benzodiazepines , such as diazepam (Valium). These may be used instead of antipsychotics or as an additional medicine during a manic phase.
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Ongoing treatment

Ongoing treatment for bipolar disorder includes counseling and adjusting medicines with the goal of preventing manic and depressive episodes. It may take months for your symptoms to go away and for you to be able to function normally.

Mood stabilizers are generally used long-term, and other medicines are prescribed for episodes of mania or depression that happen even though you are taking the mood stabilizers. If you've had more than one manic episode, or one severe manic episode, you may benefit by taking medicines for the rest of your life. Counseling may help you deal with troubled relationships and enable you to function at work.

Atypical antipsychotic medicines are now being used for long-term treatment, but their effectiveness is still being studied.

Antidepressants, such as fluoxetine (for example, Prozac), are used very carefully to treat depression because they can trigger a manic episode. Experts now recommend that antidepressants only be used for short periods of time during severe episodes of depression and that they be combined with mood stabilizers.10

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Treatment if the condition gets worse

In some cases, electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) may be an option. In this procedure, brief electrical stimulation to the brain is given through electrodes placed on the head. The stimulation produces a short seizure that is thought to balance brain chemicals.

If you also have anxiety symptoms, such as worrying and not sleeping, panic attacks, or symptoms of psychosis, you may need additional medicines.

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What To Think About

When you and your doctor are discussing your medicines, think about whether your lifestyle allows you to take medicines on time every day. A medicine you only take once a day may work best for you if you have a hard time remembering to take your medicines.

The side effects of the medicines should also be considered. You may be able to tolerate some side effects better than others. Discuss the side effects of each medicine with your doctor as you consider your treatment options.

The use of antidepressants alone has been linked to an increase in manic episodes.8 Antidepressant treatment needs to be monitored closely to avoid causing a manic episode.

Unfortunately, many people don't seek treatment for bipolar disorder. You may not seek treatment because you think the symptoms are not bad enough or that you can work things out on your own. But getting treatment is important.

If you need help deciding whether to see your doctor, see some reasons why people don't get help and how to overcome them.

Prevention

Bipolar disorder cannot be prevented, but often the mood swings can be controlled with medicines.

About 1 in 3 people will remain completely free of symptoms of bipolar disorder by taking mood stabilizer medicine, such as carbamazepine or lithium, for life.5

To help prevent a depressive or manic mood episode, you can:

  • Eat a balanced diet.
  • Exercise daily.
  • Avoid extensive travel into other time zones.
  • Get approximately the same number of hours of sleep every night.
  • Avoid alcohol and illegal drugs.
  • Reduce stress at work and at home.
  • Limit caffeine and nicotine during manic episodes.
  • Seek treatment as soon as you notice symptoms of a depressive or manic episode coming on.

Changes in your sleep patterns can sometimes trigger a manic or depressive episode. If you plan extensive travel into other time zones, you may want to call your doctor before you leave. Find out from your doctor if you should make any changes in your medicines and what to do if you have a manic or depressive episode while you are away.

Home Treatment

Home treatment is important in bipolar disorder. To help control mood swings, you can:

  • Take your medicine every day as prescribed.
  • Get enough exercise. Try moderate activity for at least 30 minutes a day, every day, if possible. Moderate activity is activity equal to a brisk walk. For more information, see the topic Fitness.
  • Get enough sleep. Keep your room dark and quiet, and try to go to bed at the same time every night.
  • Eat a healthy, balanced diet. A balanced diet includes foods from different food groups, such as whole grains, dairy, fruits and vegetables, and protein. Eat a variety of foods within each group (for example, eat different fruits from the fruit group instead of only apples). A varied diet helps you get all the nutrients you need, because no single food provides every nutrient. Eat a little of everything but nothing in excess. All foods can fit in a healthy diet if you eat everything in moderation. For more information, see the topic Healthy Eating.
  • Control the amount of stress in your life. Manage your time and commitments, establish a strong system of social support and effective coping strategies, and lead a healthy lifestyle. Techniques to relieve stress include physical activity and exercise, breathing exercises, muscle relaxation, and massage. For more information, see the topic Stress Management.
  • Avoid alcohol and illegal drugs.
  • Limit caffeine and nicotine during manic episodes.
  • Learn to recognize the early warning signs of your manic and depressive episodes.
  • Ask for help from friends and family when needed. You may need help with daily activities if you are depressed, or you may need support to control high energy levels if you are experiencing mania. For more information, see:
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Family members often feel helpless when a loved one is depressed or manic. Family members and friends can help by:

  • Encouraging the person to take prescribed medicines regularly, even when he or she is feeling good.
  • Learning the warning signs for suicide, which include:
    • Drinking alcohol heavily or taking illegal drugs.
    • Talking, writing, or drawing about death, including writing suicide notes.
    • Talking about things that can cause harm, such as pills, guns, or knives.
    • Spending long periods of time alone.
    • Giving away possessions.
    • Acting aggressive or suddenly appearing calm.
  • Recognizing a lapse into a manic or depressive episode and helping the person cope and get treatment.
  • Allowing your loved one to take enough time to feel better and get back into daily activities.
  • Learning the difference between hypomania and when he or she is just having a good day. Hypomania is an elevated or irritable mood that is clearly different from a regular nondepressed mood and can last for a week or more.
  • Encouraging your loved one to go to counseling and to join a support group, and joining one yourself if needed.

To learn more about how you can help your loved one through mood swings, see Helping a person during a manic episode.

To learn more about how you can help your loved one with depression, see:

Click here to view an Actionset. Depression: Helping someone get treatment.
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Medications

Medications, when taken regularly as prescribed, can help control bipolar mood swings. Although your family doctor can prescribe medicines to treat bipolar disorder, you will probably be referred to a psychiatrist, who is trained specifically to treat mental disorders.

Mood stabilizers, such as lithium, are usually prescribed first to treat mania and to prevent the return of both manic and depressive episodes. You may need to take a mood stabilizer for several years, or even for the rest of your life, to manage the illness. Your doctor may prescribe additional medicines—typically antipsychotics—to better control your symptoms.

Your doctor will vary the amounts and combinations of your medicines according to your symptoms, which type of bipolar disorder you have (bipolar I or II, rapid-cycling, or bipolar with mixed symptoms), and how you respond to the medicines.

Medication Choices

Several medicines are used to treat bipolar disorder. It may take time and several attempts at using different medicines to find the treatment that works best for you. The most common medicines used to treat bipolar disorder are:

  • Mood stabilizers, such as lithium carbonate (for example, Eskalith and Lithobid). Experts believe lithium may affect certain brain chemicals (neurotransmitters) that cause mood changes, but how the medicine works is not completely understood. A mood stabilizer and an antipsychotic are recommended as the first medicines for acute manic episodes. Anticonvulsants, such as valproate sodium (Depakene Syrup), divalproex (Depakote), and carbamazepine (Tegretol and Equetro), are also considered mood stabilizers. Valproate and divalproex are used to treat manic episodes. The anticonvulsant lamotrigine (Lamictal) was approved for the long-term maintenance treatment of bipolar I disorder and may be helpful for depression. Anticonvulsants can be helpful in hard-to-treat bipolar episodes.
  • Antipsychotics, such as olanzapine (Zyprexa), risperidone (Risperdal), ziprasidone (Geodon), quetiapine (Seroquel), and aripiprazole (Abilify). Antipsychotics improve manic episodes. Olanzapine may be used in combination with mood stabilizers and anticonvulsants.
  • Benzodiazepines , such as diazepam (Valium). These may be used instead of antipsychotics or as an additional medicine during a manic phase.

What To Think About

Antidepressants, such as fluoxetine (for example, Prozac), are used very carefully to treat depression because they can trigger a manic episode. Experts now recommend that antidepressants only be used for short periods of time during severe episodes of depression and that they be combined with mood stabilizers.10

If you are prescribed lithium carbonate, valproate, or carbamazepine, you will need regular blood tests to monitor the amount of medicine in your blood. Too much lithium in your bloodstream may lead to serious high lithium carbonate side effects. Your doctor may want you to have blood tests while you are on medicine, to check whether the medicine is affecting your liver, kidneys, and thyroid gland or to measure the number of blood cells in your body.

During your doctor's appointment, ask about:

  • The side effects of each medicine.
  • How often you will need to take the medicines.
  • How the medicines may interact with other medicines you are taking.
  • Whether it's important that you take the medicines at the same time every day.

Taking medicines during pregnancy for bipolar disorder may increase the risk of birth defects. If you are pregnant, or thinking of becoming pregnant, talk to your doctor. Medicines may need to be continued if your bipolar disorder is severe. Your doctor can help weigh the risks of treatment against the risk of harm to your pregnancy.

FDA Advisories.The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued:

  • An advisory on antidepressant medicines and the risk of suicide. The FDA does not recommend that people stop using these medicines. Instead, a person taking antidepressants should be watched for warning signs of suicide. This is especially important at the beginning of treatment or when doses are changed.
  • A warning on anticonvulsants and the risk of suicide and suicidal thoughts. The FDA does not recommend that people stop using these medicines. Instead, people who take anticonvulsant medicine should be watched closely for warning signs of suicide. People who take anticonvulsant medicine and who are worried about this side effect should talk to a doctor.

Surgery

There is no known surgery at this time to treat bipolar disorder.

Other Treatment

Almost all people who have bipolar disorder need medicine. But counseling is also important to help you cope with work and relationship struggles related to your illness.

Other Treatment Choices

Types of counseling used to treat bipolar disorder include:

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy , a type of counseling aimed at teaching you how to become healthier by modifying certain thought and behavior patterns. It is based on the theory that thought and behavior can affect a person's symptoms and be an obstacle to recovery.
  • Interpersonal therapy , which focuses on social and personal relationships and related problems by discussing grief and loss, role disputes in relationships, and relationship transitions.
  • Problem solving , a brief, focused form of cognitive therapy used to treat depression. It focuses on specific problems and how you can solve them.
  • Family therapy , a type of counseling used to help families deal with a stressful situation or a life-changing event. In family therapy, each person can express any concerns and fears about how the problem affects the person with bipolar disorder and the family as a whole.

In some cases, electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) may be an option. In this procedure, brief electrical stimulation to the brain is given through electrodes placed on the head. The stimulation produces a short seizure that is thought to balance brain chemicals.

Complementary therapy

Omega-3 fatty acids have been getting some attention as a possible complementary treatment for bipolar disorder. But more research is needed to prove the effectiveness of omega-3 fatty acids in treating this condition.11, 12

What To Think About

Click here to view an Actionset. Bipolar disorder: Preventing manic episodes

Establish a long-term relationship with a counselor you like. The counselor will help you recognize personality changes that show when you are moving into a mood episode. Getting early treatment can reduce the length of the mood episode.

Bipolar disorder also affects family members. They need to understand the disorder and how to help you cope.

Other Places To Get Help

Online Resource

NIMH: Bipolar Disorder
National Institute of Mental Health
Web Address: www.nimh.nih.gov/healthinformation/bipolarmenu.cfm
 

The U.S. National Institute of Mental Health provides Web site provides a forum for discussions of current research as well as pamphlets, factual information, and ongoing studies into the cause and treatment of bipolar disorder for both adults and children.


Organizations

Child and Adolescent Bipolar Foundation
1000 Skokie Boulevard
Suite 570
Wilmette, IL  60091
Phone: (847) 256-8525
Fax: (847) 920-9498
E-mail: cabf@bpkids.org
Web Address: www.bpkids.org
 

The Child and Adolescent Bipolar Foundation (CABF) is a parent-led, nonprofit, Web-based membership organization of families raising children diagnosed with, or at risk for, early-onset bipolar disorder. This organization provides resources to help families better understand childhood and adolescent bipolar disorder.


Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance
730 North Franklin Street
Suite 501
Chicago, IL  60610-7224
Phone: 1-800-826-3632 includes a hotline for help with depression and bipolar disorder
(312) 642-0049
Fax: (312) 642-7243
Web Address: www.dbsalliance.org
 

The Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance publishes brochures, books, and videotapes about the treatment of mood disorders, all available free of charge or for a nominal fee. It also has an information and referral line, and its Web site contains helpful information.


Mental Health America
2000 North Beauregard Street, 6th Floor
Alexandria, VA  22311
Phone: 1-800-969-NMHA (1-800-969-6642) referral service for help with depression
(703) 684-7722
Fax: (703) 684-5968
TDD: 1-800-433-5959
Web Address: www.mentalhealthamerica.net
 

Mental Health America (formerly known as the National Mental Health Association) is a nonprofit agency devoted to helping people of all ages live mentally healthier lives. Its Web site has information about mental health conditions. It also addresses issues such as grief, stress, bullying, and more. It includes a confidential depression screening test for anyone who would like to take it. The short test may help you decide whether your symptoms are related to depression.


National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)
Colonial Place Three
2107 Wilson Boulevard
Suite 300
Arlington, VA  22201-3042
Phone: 1-800-950-NAMI (1-800-950-6264) hotline for help with depression
(703) 524-7600
Fax: (703) 524-9094
TDD: (703) 516-7227
E-mail: info@nami.org
Web Address: www.nami.org
 

The National Alliance on Mental Illness is a national self-help and family advocacy organization dedicated solely to improving the lives of people who have severe mental illnesses such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder (manic depression), major depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and panic disorder. NAMI focuses on support, education, advocacy, and research. The mission of the organization is to "eradicate mental illness and improve the quality of life of those affected by these diseases."


National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
6001 Executive Boulevard
Room 8184, MSC 9663
Bethesda, MD  20892-9663
Phone: 1-866-615-6464 toll-free
(301) 443-4513
Fax: (301) 443-4279
TDD: 1-866-415-8051 toll-free
E-mail: nimhinfo@nih.gov
Web Address: www.nimh.nih.gov
 

The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) provides information to help people better understand mental health, mental disorders, and behavioral problems. NIMH does not provide referrals to mental health professionals or treatment for mental health problems.


National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
Phone: 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255)
1-888-628-9454 Spanish
TDD: 1-800-799-4TTY (1-800-799-4889)
Web Address: www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org
 

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a 24-hour, toll-free suicide prevention service. Crisis centers are located in 130 locations across the United States. Callers are routed to the closest provider of mental health and suicide prevention services.


References

Citations

  1. Sells SR, Loosen PT (2000). Bipolar disorders. In MH Ebert et al., eds., Current Diagnosis and Treatment in Psychiatry, chap. 21, pp. 311–322. New York: McGraw-Hill.
  2. Müller-Oerlinghausen B, et al. (2002). Bipolar disorder. Lancet, 359(9302): 241–247.
  3. American Psychiatric Association (2000). Bipolar disorders. In Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th ed., text rev., pp. 382–397. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association.
  4. American Psychiatric Association (2002). Practice guideline for the treatment of patients with bipolar disorder (revision). American Journal of Psychiatry, 159(4, Suppl):1–50.
  5. Sachs GS, et al. (2000). Expert Consensus Guidelines Series: Medication Treatment of Bipolar Disorder. Available online: http://www.psychguides.com/gl-treatment_of_bp2000.html.
  6. Akiskal HS (2005). Bipolar disorders section of Mood disorders: Historical introduction and conceptual overview. In BJ Sadock, VA Sadock, eds., Kaplan and Sadock's Comprehensive Textbook of Psychiatry, 8th ed., vol. 1, pp. 1633–1640. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.
  7. Colton CW, Manderscheid RW (2006). Congruencies in increased mortality rates, years of potential life lost, and causes of death among public mental health clients in eight states. Preventing Chronic Disease, 3(2): 1–14. Also available online: http://www.cdc.gov/pcd/issues/2006/apr/05_0180.htm.
  8. Calabrese JR, et al. (2001). Bipolar rapid cycling: Focus on depression as its hallmark. Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 62(Suppl 14): 34–55.
  9. Glick ID, et al. (2001). Psychopharmacologic treatment strategies for depression, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia. Annals of Internal Medicine, 134(1): 47–60.
  10. Sachs GS, et al. (2000). The treatment of bipolar depression. Bipolar Disorders, 2(3, Part 2): 256–260.
  11. Lin PY, Su KP (2007). A meta-analytic review of double-blind, placebo-controlled trials for antidepressant efficacy of omega-3 fatty acids. Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 68(7): 1056–1061.
  12. Bowden CL (2001). Novel treatments for bipolar disorder. Expert Opinion on Investigational Drugs, 10(4): 661–671.

Other Works Consulted

  • Akiskal HS (2005). Bipolar disorders section of Mood disorders: Historical introduction and conceptual overview. In BJ Sadock, VA Sadock, eds., Kaplan and Sadock's Comprehensive Textbook of Psychiatry, 8th ed., vol. 1, pp. 1633–1640. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.
  • Compton MT, Nemeroff CB (2003). Depression and bipolar disorder. In DC Dale, DD Federman, eds., Scientific American Medicine, section 13, chap. 1. New York: WebMD.
  • Compton MT, Nemeroff CB (2008). Depression and bipolar disorder. In DC Dale, DD Federman, eds., ACP Medicine, section 13, chap. 2. New York: WebMD.
  • Frances AJ, et al. (1998). The expert consensus guidelines for treating depression in bipolar disorder. Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 59(4): 73–79.
  • Geddes J, Briess D (2007). Bipolar disorder, search date July 2006. Online version of BMJ Clinical Evidence. Also available online: http://www.clinicalevidence.com.
  • Hirschfeld RM (2005). Guideline Watch: Practice Guideline for the Treatment of Patients With Bipolar Disorder. Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Association. Available online: http://www.psych.org/psych_pract/treatg/pg/prac_guide.cfm.
  • Sadock BJ, Sadock VA (2007). Mood disorders. In Kaplan and Sadock's Synopsis of Psychiatry, 10th ed., pp. 527–562. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.

Credits

Author Jeannette Curtis
Editor Susan Van Houten, RN, BSN, MBA
Associate Editor Michele Cronen
Primary Medical Reviewer Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Martin Gabica, MD - Family Medicine
Last Updated December 16, 2009

Last Updated: December 16, 2009

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