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Bipolar Disorder (cont.)

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 having it is higher.

Some things can increase your risk of a manic episode or depression. These include:

  • Changes in sleep or daily routines.
  • Antidepressant medicine. This can happen if you haven't been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and are seeking treatment for depression.
  • Stressful events.
  • Quitting your medicine for bipolar disorder. Even if you're feeling better, it's important to take your medicines as prescribed.

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

Call , the national suicide hotline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255), or other emergency services right away if:

  • You or someone you know is thinking seriously of committing suicide or has recently tried to commit suicide. Serious signs include these thoughts:
    • You have decided how to kill yourself, such as with a weapon or medicines.
    • You have set a time and place to do it.
    • You think there is no other way to solve the problem or end the pain.
  • You feel you cannot stop from hurting yourself or someone else.

Call a doctor right away if:

  • You hear voices.
  • You have been thinking about death or suicide a lot, but you do not have a plan to commit suicide.
  • You are worried that your feelings of depression or thoughts of suicide aren't going away.

Seek care soon if:

  • You have symptoms of depression, such as:
    • Feeling sad or hopeless.
    • Not enjoying anything.
    • Having trouble with sleep.
    • Feeling guilty.
    • Feeling anxious or worried.
  • You have been treated for depression for more than 3 weeks, but you aren't getting better.

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, because people are more likely to seek treatment during a period of depression.

After you are diagnosed with bipolar disorder, you'll need to keep a long-term relationship with your doctor or therapist. It can help you 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. He or she 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, others who can provide counseling include:

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

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