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Bipolar Disorder Health Center

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Bipolar Disorder Emergencies and Suicide Prevention

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    Bipolar disorder may raise the risk of suicide. Mania and depression, the hallmarks of bipolar disorder, can be dangerous. During a manic phase, a person with bipolar disorder may be reckless. In about half of cases, people with mania can become psychotic -- hearing or sometimes seeing things that aren't real. During a depressive state, things may seem so hopeless that life doesn't seem worth living. . Manic or depressive episodes that involve mixed features (aspects of mania during depression, or depression during mania) are particularly dangerous. A person might feel depressed but keyed-up and agitated or energized at the same time.

    Suicide is a very real risk for people with bipolar disorder, particularly when they're in a depressive episode -- 10% to 15% of people with bipolar disorder kill themselves. Many more attempt suicide. It's an alarming statistic, but you have to remember that treatment greatly lowers the risk.

    Recommended Related to Bipolar Disorder

    Bipolar Disorder and Self-Injury

    People with bipolar disorder, depression, and other mood disorders often have episodes when they feel extremely sad, hopeless, anxious, or confused. When these emotions get too intense, the person may struggle with how to cope with overwhelming emotions, and for some people, efforts at coping with distress may take the form of acts of self-injury. Self-injury, often including cutting, self-mutilation, or self-harm, is an injurious attempt to cope with overpowering negative emotions, such as extreme...

    Read the Bipolar Disorder and Self-Injury article > >

    Any person with bipolar disorder needs to know what to do in an emergency.

    Your condition -- by its very nature -- may prevent you from seeing things clearly. So when you're feeling well, make a plan with your friends and family for what to do in case you become unsafe. You should agree to:

    • Call your health care provider, therapist, or a suicide hotline right away if you feel suicidal.
    • Ask for help from friends or family members.
    • Stay safe until you can get help.

    Remember that mood episodes are temporary. Suicidal thoughts are a symptom of your bipolar disorder. You will feel better with time.

    WebMD Medical Reference

    Reviewed by Joseph Goldberg, MD on July 31, 2014
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