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Bipolar Disorder


Bipolar disorder is a long-term chemical imbalance that causes rapid changes in mood and behavior. High moods are called mania. Low moods are called depression. Sometimes you will feel manic and sometimes you will feel depressed. You can have mania and depression at the same time. This is called a mixed bipolar state.



You may get medicines to help keep your mood stable, or to help you sleep. Changes in medicine are often needed as your bipolar disorder changes. Take your medicine as directed. Call your primary healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not working. Do not stop taking your medicine until you talk to your primary healthcare provider. Tell him if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a current list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when, how, and why you take them. Take the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

Follow up with your primary healthcare provider or psychiatrist as directed:

You may need to return for blood tests to monitor the levels of bipolar medicine in your blood. Caregivers use the results of this test to decide the correct amount of medicine for you. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

Manage bipolar disorder:

Watch for things that may trigger bipolar disorder symptoms, such as stress. Learn new ways to relax, such as deep breathing, to manage your stress. Tell someone if you feel a manic or depressive period might be coming on. Ask a friend or family member to help watch you for bipolar symptoms. Work to develop skills that will help you manage bipolar disorder. You may need to make lifestyle changes. Ask your primary healthcare provider or psychiatrist for resources.

For support and more information:

  • National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), Public Information & Communication Branch
    6001 Executive Boulevard, Room 8184, MSC 9663
    Bethesda , MD 20892-9663
    Phone: 1- 301 - 443-4513
    Phone: 1- 866 - 615-6464
    Web Address:
  • Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA)
    730 N. Franklin Street, Suite 501
    Chicago , IL 60610-7224
    Phone: 1- 800 - 826-3632
    Web Address:

Contact your primary healthcare provider or psychiatrist if:

  • You are having trouble managing your bipolar disorder.

  • You cannot sleep, or are sleeping all the time.

  • You cannot eat, or are eating more than usual.

  • You feel dizzy or your stomach is upset.

  • You cannot make it to your next meeting.

  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Seek care immediately or call 911 if:

  • You think about hurting yourself or someone else.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.