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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.

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    Treatments for Mania in Bipolar Disorder

    Bipolar disorder is a serious diagnosis that affects more than 10 million Americans. Unlike depression, bipolar disorder is equally common in men and women. The onset of the condition typically occurs in the early 20s, but (although rare) the first symptoms can appear in early childhood or late in life. Although some people may have only one episode, bipolar disorder is a lifelong condition that usually involves recurrent episodes. It's usually marked by episodes of mania or hypomania (low-grade...

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    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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