Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Bipolar Disorder: Managing Mania

Font Size

When Bipolar Mania Gets Out of Control

For many with bipolar disorder, mania feels dangerously good.

When Bipolar Mania Gets Out of Control continued...

"Insight is not the middle name of mania," says Kay Redfield Jamison, PhD, professor of psychiatry at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and author of An Unquiet Mind and other books on bipolar disorder.

"Most manic episodes are highly unpleasant," Jamison tells WebMD. "Even people who get euphoric can end up having terrifying experiences. Some people recognize when it becomes destructive, but certainly not everyone. That's when the family and the law come in."

Many people begin treatment via a trip to the hospital ER -- often, against their will. "To be quite honest, if someone were experiencing only the manias -- even if they recognize things are bad -- it would be difficult to convince them they need to be on medications," Bearden says.

While depression is difficult for anyone, it's especially traumatic if you have bipolar disorder, she tells WebMD. "It's such a dramatic change from the mania. And if the depression becomes very, very severe, people may become suicidal. That's why a lot of people come for treatment. At that point, people realize they need to be on medication for the depression -- and to take the edge off the highs as well."

Bipolar Disorder Medications: Why Quit?

In recent years, the medication menu for treating bipolar disorder has become quite complex. Most people with bipolar I start with lithium. Drugs used to treat other illnesses have also been pulled into treatment: antiseizure medications, antipsychotics, calcium channel blockers, and benzodiazepines.

The medications can work very effectively in smoothing the highs and lows, helping people feel "normal," says Edith Harvey, MD, staff psychiatrist with the Hope Program at the Menninger Clinic in Houston.

"There are a lot of people out there who are extremely functional despite their bipolar disorder -- doctors, lawyers, judges, movie stars," Harvey tells WebMD. "It's a very treatable disorder. I would have to say the majority of people who get into treatment stick with it. It's a smaller percentage that repeatedly get sick."

What makes people quit taking medication? Very often, it's denial that the problem is a real illness. Another issue is intolerable side effects, especially lethargy and weight gain. Or the medication may not be working very well, says Harvey.

Next Article:

I can tell I'm becoming manic when: