Suicide Awareness

Not every depressed child becomes suicidal, but if your child is depressed, it would be best if you learned the warning signs of suicide. Here are some of the warning signs:

Writing about death
Talking about death
Having dreams about death
Drawing morbid pictures
Feeling very hopeless
Not wanting to be around family and friends
Feeling very overwhelmed by stress
Not caring about anything anymore
Giving away prized possessions
Previous suicide attempts
Making statements like, "You don't have to worry about me much more" or "I wish I was never born" or "I'd be better off dead"

If you see these warning signs, don't ignore them, take them very seriously.  Most suicides can be prevented. Worst case scenro - you minimize, ignore or neglect to take serious psychiatric interventions and grieve the loss of your child for the rest of your life.

SAMHSA's Suicide
Suicide Awareness Voices of Education
Suicide: Read This First

NIMH Answers Questions About Suicide

How common is suicide in children and teens?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported  that in 2014, suicide was the second leading cause of death for young people ages 10–24. Although these numbers may make suicide seem common, it is still a rare event. Suicidal thoughts or behaviors are more common than suicide deaths and are signs of extreme distress. Suicidal thoughts and behaviors are not harmless bids for attention and should not be ignored.

What are some of the risks factors for suicide?

Risk factors vary with age, gender, or ethnic group and may change over time. Some factors that increase an individual’s risk for suicidal thoughts and behaviors are:

Depression, anxiety, and other mental disorders

Substance abuse disorder

Chronic pain

Prior suicide attempt

Family history of suicide

Family violence, including physical or sexual abuse

Firearms in the home

Having recently been released from jail or prison

Exposure to suicidal behavior of others, such as family members or peers

It is important to note that many people who have these risk factors are not suicidal.

What are the warning signs?

The following are some of the signs you might notice in yourself or a friend that may be reason for concern:

Talking about wanting to die or wanting to kill oneself

Making a plan or looking for a way to kill oneself, such as searching online

Buying a gun, or stockpiling pills

Feeling empty, hopeless, or feeling like there is no reason to live

Feeling trapped or in unbearable pain

Talking about being a burden to others

Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs

Acting anxious or agitated; behaving recklessly

Sleeping too little or too much

Withdrawing from family or friends or feeling isolated

Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge

Displaying extreme mood swings

Saying good-bye to loved ones, putting affairs in order

Seeking help is a sign of strength; if you are concerned, go with your instincts and seek professional help.

Reaching out to a friend you are concerned about is also a sign of strength.

What can I do for myself or someone else?

Immediate action is very important. Here are a few resources:

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline : 1–800–273–TALK (8255), confidential help 24-hours-a-day. You can also visit the Lifeline’s website at www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org
Veterans Crisis Line : 1–800–273–8255, press 1

Crisis Text Line : text START to 741–741

HealthReach , information available in multiple languages: www.healthreach.nlm.nih.gov/searchindex/Suicide
Help for Mental Illnesses: National Institute of Mental Health web page www.nimh.nih.gov/findhelp

Treatment Referral Routing Service: 1–800–662–HELP (4357), funded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration

What if someone seems suicidal on social media?

Many social media outlets, including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Tumblr, and Google+, have ways to report suicidal content and get help for the content creator. Each social media site has a different procedure, so search the site’s help page for assistance.

What if I want to write a story about suicide?

Great idea! Here are suggestions for reporting on suicide: http://reportingonsuicide.org/ .

Where can I go for more information on suicide prevention?

You can:

Visit the NIMH website: www.nimh.nih.gov and search “suicide”

Visit the National Library of Medicine’s MedlinePlus,
English: www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus
En Español: www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/spanish
Find information on clinical trials at the National Library of Medicine Clinical Trials database: www.ClinicalTrials.gov/

Information from NIMH is available in multiple formats. You can browse and order items online, download documents in PDF, and order paper brochures through the mail.

If you do not have Internet access and wish to receive information that supplements this publication, please contact the NIMH Information Resource Center at the numbers listed below.


Suicide in America:  Frequently Asked Questions

Suicide does not discriminate. People of all genders, ages, and ethnicities can be at risk for suicide. But people most at risk tend to share certain characteristics. The main risk factors for suicide are:

Depression, other mental disorders, or substance abuse disorder
A prior suicide attempt
Family history of a mental disorder or substance abuse
Family history of suicide
Family violence, including physical or sexual abuse
Having guns or other firearms in the home
Incarceration, being in prison or jail
Being exposed to others’ suicidal behavior, such as that of family members, peers, or media figures.
The risk for suicidal behavior is complex. Research suggests that people who attempt suicide differ from others in many aspects of how they think, react to events, and make decisions. There are differences in aspects of memory, attention, planning, and emotion, for example. These differences often occur along with disorders like depression, substance use, anxiety, and psychosis. Sometimes suicidal behavior is triggered by events such as personal loss or violence. In order to be able to detect those at risk and prevent suicide, it is crucial that we understand the role of both long-term factors—such as experiences in childhood—and more immediate factors like mental health and recent life events. Researchers are also looking at how genes can either increase risk or make someone more resilient to loss and hardships.

Many people have some of these risk factors but do not attempt suicide. Suicide is not a normal response to stress. It is, however, a sign of extreme distress, not a harmless bid for attention.

What about gender?

Men are more likely to die by suicide than women, but women are more likely to attempt suicide. Men are more likely to use deadlier methods, such as firearms or suffocation.Women are more likely than men to attempt suicide by poisoning.

What about children?

Children and young people are at risk for suicide. Suicide is the second leading cause of death for young people ages 15 to 34.

What about older adults?

Older adults are at risk for suicide, too.While older adults were the demographic group with the highest suicide rates for decades, suicide rates for middle-aged adults has increased to comparable levels (ages 24–62). Among those age 65+, white males comprise over 80 percent of all late-life suicides.

What about different ethnic groups?

Among ethnicities, American Indians and Alaska Natives (AI/AN) tend to have the highest rate of suicides, followed by non-Hispanic Whites. Hispanics, African Americans, and Asian/Pacific Islanders each have suicide rates that are about half their White and AI/AN counterparts.

How can suicide be prevented?

Effective suicide prevention is based on sound research. Programs that work take into account people’s risk factors and promote interventions that are appropriate to specific groups of people. For example, research has shown that mental and substance abuse disorders are risk factors for suicide. Therefore, many programs focus on treating these disorders in addition to addressing suicide risk specifically.

Psychotherapy, or “talk therapy,” can effectively reduce suicide risk. One type is called cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT can help people learn new ways of dealing with stressful experiences by training them to consider alternative actions when thoughts of suicide arise.

Another type of psychotherapy called dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) has been shown to reduce the rate of suicide among people with borderline personality disorder, a serious mental illness characterized by unstable moods, relationships, self- image, and behavior. A therapist trained in DBT helps a person recognize when his or her feelings or actions are disruptive or unhealthy, and teaches the skills needed to deal better with upsetting situations.

Medications may also help; promising medications and psychosocial treatments for suicidal people are being tested.

Still other research has found that many older adults and women who die by suicide saw their primary care providers in the year before death. Training doctors to recognize signs that a person may be considering suicide may help prevent even more suicides.

What should I do if someone I know is considering suicide?

If you know someone who is considering suicide, do not leave him or her alone. Try to get your loved one to seek immediate help from his or her doctor or the nearest hospital emergency room, or call 911. Remove any access he or she may have to firearms or other potential tools for suicide, including medications.

If you are in crisis

Call the toll-free National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The service is available to anyone. All calls are confidential.

Depression - Definition

Depression (major depressive disorder or clinical depression) is a common but serious mood disorder. It causes severe symptoms that affect how you feel, think, and handle daily activities, such as sleeping, eating, or working. To be diagnosed with depression, the symptoms must be present for at least two weeks.

Some forms of depression are slightly different, or they may develop under unique circumstances, such as:

Persistent depressive disorder (also called dysthymia) is a depressed mood that lasts for at least two years. A person diagnosed with persistent depressive disorder may have episodes of major depression along with periods of less severe symptoms, but symptoms must last for two years to be considered persistent depressive disorder.

Perinatal depression is much more serious than the “baby blues” (relatively mild depressive and anxiety symptoms that typically clear within two weeks after delivery) that many women experience after giving birth. Women with perinatal depression experience full-blown major depression during pregnancy or after delivery (postpartum depression). The feelings of extreme sadness, anxiety, and exhaustion that accompany perinatal depression may make it difficult for these new mothers to complete daily care activities for themselves and/or for their babies.

Psychotic depression occurs when a person has severe depression plus some form of psychosis, such as having disturbing false fixed beliefs (delusions) or hearing or seeing upsetting things that others cannot hear or see (hallucinations). The psychotic symptoms typically have a depressive “theme,” such as delusions of guilt, poverty, or illness.

Seasonal affective disorder is characterized by the onset of depression during the winter months, when there is less natural sunlight. This depression generally lifts during spring and summer. Winter depression, typically accompanied by social withdrawal, increased sleep, and weight gain, predictably returns every year in seasonal affective disorder.

Bipolar disorder is different from depression, but it is included in this list is because someone with bipolar disorder experiences episodes of extremely low moods that meet the criteria for major depression (called “bipolar depression”). But a person with bipolar disorder also experiences extreme high – euphoric or irritable – moods called “mania” or a less severe form called “hypomania.”
Examples of other types of depressive disorders newly added to the diagnostic classification of DSM-5  include disruptive mood dysregulation disorder (diagnosed in children and adolescents) and premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD).

Signs and Symptoms

If you have been experiencing some of the following signs and symptoms most of the day, nearly every day, for at least two weeks, you may be suffering from depression:

Persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” mood
Feelings of hopelessness, or pessimism
Irritability
Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness
Loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities
Decreased energy or fatigue
Moving or talking more slowly
Feeling restless or having trouble sitting still
Difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions
Difficulty sleeping, early-morning awakening, or oversleeping
Appetite and/or weight changes
Thoughts of death or suicide, or suicide attempts
Aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems without a clear physical cause and/or that do not ease even with treatment
Not everyone who is depressed experiences every symptom. Some people experience only a few symptoms while others may experience many. Several persistent symptoms in addition to low mood are required for a diagnosis of major depression, but people with only a few – but distressing – symptoms may benefit from treatment of their “subsyndromal” depression. The severity and frequency of symptoms and how long they last will vary depending on the individual and his or her particular illness. Symptoms may also vary depending on the stage of the illness.

Risk Factors

Depression is one of the most common mental disorders in the U.S. Current research suggests that depression is caused by a combination of genetic, biological, environmental, and psychological factors.

Depression can happen at any age, but often begins in adulthood. Depression is now recognized as occurring in children and adolescents, although it sometimes presents with more prominent irritability than low mood. Many chronic mood and anxiety disorders in adults begin as high levels of anxiety in children.

Depression, especially in midlife or older adults, can co-occur with other serious medical illnesses, such as diabetes, cancer, heart disease, and Parkinson’s disease. These conditions are often worse when depression is present. Sometimes medications taken for these physical illnesses may cause side effects that contribute to depression. A doctor experienced in treating these complicated illnesses can help work out the best treatment strategy.

Risk factors include:

Personal or family history of depression
Major life changes, trauma, or stress
Certain physical illnesses and medications
Treatment and Therapies

Depression, even the most severe cases, can be treated. The earlier that treatment can begin, the more effective it is. Depression is usually treated with medications, psychotherapy, or a combination of the two. If these treatments do not reduce symptoms, electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) and other brain stimulation therapies may be options to explore.

Quick Tip: No two people are affected the same way by depression and there is no "one-size-fits-all" for treatment. It may take some trial and error to find the treatment that works best for you.

Medications

Antidepressants are medicines that treat depression. They may help improve the way your brain uses certain chemicals that control mood or stress. You may need to try several different antidepressant medicines before finding the one that improves your symptoms and has manageable side effects. A medication that has helped you or a close family member in the past will often be considered.

Antidepressants take time – usually 2 to 4 weeks – to work, and often, symptoms such as sleep, appetite, and concentration problems improve before mood lifts, so it is important to give medication a chance before reaching a conclusion about its effectiveness. If you begin taking antidepressants, do not stop taking them without the help of a doctor. Sometimes people taking antidepressants feel better and then stop taking the medication on their own, and the depression returns. When you and your doctor have decided it is time to stop the medication, usually after a course of 6 to 12 months, the doctor will help you slowly and safely decrease your dose. Stopping them abruptly can cause withdrawal symptoms.

Please Note: In some cases, children, teenagers, and young adults under 25 may experience an increase in suicidal thoughts or behavior when taking antidepressants, especially in the first few weeks after starting or when the dose is changed. This warning from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) also says that patients of all ages taking antidepressants should be watched closely, especially during the first few weeks of treatment.

If you are considering taking an antidepressant and you are pregnant, planning to become pregnant, or breastfeeding, talk to your doctor about any increased health risks to you or your unborn or nursing child.

To find the latest information about antidepressants, talk to your doctor and visit www.fda.gov .

You may have heard about an herbal medicine called St. John's wort. Although it is a top-selling botanical product, the FDA has not approved its use as an over-the-counter or prescription medicine for depression, and there are serious concerns about its safety (it should never be combined with a prescription antidepressant) and effectiveness. Do not use St. John’s wort before talking to your health care provider. Other natural products sold as dietary supplements, including omega-3 fatty acids and S-adenosylmethionine (SAMe), remain under study but have not yet been proven safe and effective for routine use. For more information on herbal and other complementary approaches and current research, please visit the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health  website.

Psychotherapies

Several types of psychotherapy (also called “talk therapy” or, in a less specific form, counseling) can help people with depression. Examples of evidence-based approaches specific to the treatment of depression include cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), interpersonal therapy (IPT), and problem-solving therapy. More information on psychotherapy is available on the NIMH website and in the NIMH publication Depression: What You Need to Know.

Brain Stimulation Therapies

If medications do not reduce the symptoms of depression, electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) may be an option to explore. Based on the latest research:

ECT can provide relief for people with severe depression who have not been able to feel better with other treatments.
Electroconvulsive therapy can be an effective treatment for depression. In some severe cases where a rapid response is necessary or medications cannot be used safely, ECT can even be a first-line intervention.

Once strictly an inpatient procedure, today ECT is often performed on an outpatient basis. The treatment consists of a series of sessions, typically three times a week, for two to four weeks.

ECT may cause some side effects, including confusion, disorientation, and memory loss. Usually these side effects are short-term, but sometimes memory problems can linger, especially for the months around the time of the treatment course. Advances in ECT devices and methods have made modern ECT safe and effective for the vast majority of patients. Talk to your doctor and make sure you understand the potential benefits and risks of the treatment before giving your informed consent to undergoing ECT.
ECT is not painful, and you cannot feel the electrical impulses. Before ECT begins, a patient is put under brief anesthesia and given a muscle relaxant. Within one hour after the treatment session, which takes only a few minutes, the patient is awake and alert.
Other more recently introduced types of brain stimulation therapies used to treat medicine-resistant depression include repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) and vagus nerve stimulation (VNS). Other types of brain stimulation treatments are under study. You can learn more about these therapies on the NIMH Brain Stimulation Therapies webpage.

If you think you may have depression, start by making an appointment to see your doctor or health care provider. This could be your primary care practitioner or a health provider who specializes in diagnosing and treating mental health conditions. Visit the NIMH Find Help for Mental Illnesses if you are unsure of where to start.

Beyond Treatment: Things You Can Do

Here are other tips that may help you or a loved one during treatment for depression:

Try to be active and exercise.
Set realistic goals for yourself.
Try to spend time with other people and confide in a trusted friend or relative.
Try not to isolate yourself, and let others help you.
Expect your mood to improve gradually, not immediately.
Postpone important decisions, such as getting married or divorced, or changing jobs until you feel better. Discuss decisions with others who know you well and have a more objective view of your situation.
Continue to educate yourself about depression.
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Bipolar Disorder

Definition

Bipolar disorder, also known as manic-depressive illness, is a brain disorder that causes unusual shifts in mood, energy, activity levels, and the ability to carry out day-to-day tasks.

There are four basic types of bipolar disorder; all of them involve clear changes in mood, energy, and activity levels. These moods range from periods of extremely “up,” elated, and energized behavior (known as manic episodes) to very sad, “down,” or hopeless periods (known as depressive episodes). Less severe manic periods are known as hypomanic episodes.

Bipolar I Disorder— defined by manic episodes that last at least 7 days, or by manic symptoms that are so severe that the person needs immediate hospital care. Usually, depressive episodes occur as well, typically lasting at least 2 weeks. Episodes of depression with mixed features (having depression and manic symptoms at the same time) are also possible.

Bipolar II Disorder— defined by a pattern of depressive episodes and hypomanic episodes, but not the full-blown manic episodes described above.

Cyclothymic Disorder (also called cyclothymia)— defined by numerous periods of hypomanic symptoms as well numerous periods of depressive symptoms lasting for at least 2 years (1 year in children and adolescents). However, the symptoms do not meet the diagnostic requirements for a hypomanic episode and a depressive episode.

Other Specified and Unspecified Bipolar and Related Disorders— defined by bipolar disorder symptoms that do not match the three categories listed above.

Signs and Symptoms

People with bipolar disorder experience periods of unusually intense emotion, changes in sleep patterns and activity levels, and unusual behaviors. These distinct periods are called “mood episodes.” Mood episodes are drastically different from the moods and behaviors that are typical for the person. Extreme changes in energy, activity, and sleep go along with mood episodes.

People having a manic episode may:

People having a depressive episode may:

Feel very “up,” “high,” or elated
Have a lot of energy
Have increased activity levels
Feel “jumpy” or “wired”
Have trouble sleeping
Become more active than usual
Talk really fast about a lot of different things
Be agitated, irritable, or “touchy”
Feel like their thoughts are going very fast
Think they can do a lot of things at once
Do risky things, like spend a lot of money or have reckless sex
Feel very sad, down, empty, or hopeless
Have very little energy
Have decreased activity levels
Have trouble sleeping, they may sleep too little or too much
Feel like they can’t enjoy anything
Feel worried and empty
Have trouble concentrating
Forget things a lot
Eat too much or too little
Feel tired or “slowed down”
Think about death or suicide
Sometimes a mood episode includes symptoms of both manic and depressive symptoms. This is called an episode with mixed features. People experiencing an episode with mixed features may feel very sad, empty, or hopeless, while at the same time feeling extremely energized.

Bipolar disorder can be present even when mood swings are less extreme. For example, some people with bipolar disorder experience hypomania, a less severe form of mania. During a hypomanic episode, an individual may feel very good, be highly productive, and function well. The person may not feel that anything is wrong, but family and friends may recognize the mood swings and/or changes in activity levels as possible bipolar disorder. Without proper treatment, people with hypomania may develop severe mania or depression.

Diagnosis

Proper diagnosis and treatment help people with bipolar disorder lead healthy and productive lives. Talking with a doctor or other licensed mental health professional is the first step for anyone who thinks he or she may have bipolar disorder. The doctor can complete a physical exam to rule out other conditions. If the problems are not caused by other illnesses, the doctor may conduct a mental health evaluation or provide a referral to a trained mental health professional, such as a psychiatrist, who is experienced in diagnosing and treating bipolar disorder.

Note for Health Care Providers: People with bipolar disorder are more likely to seek help when they are depressed than when experiencing mania or hypomania. Therefore, a careful medical history is needed to ensure that bipolar disorder is not mistakenly diagnosed as major depression. Unlike people with bipolar disorder, people who have depression only (also called unipolar depression) do not experience mania. They may, however, experience some manic symptoms at the same time, which is also known as major depressive disorder with mixed features.

Bipolar Disorder and Other Illnesses

Some bipolar disorder symptoms are similar to other illnesses, which can make it hard for a doctor to make a diagnosis. In addition, many people have bipolar disorder along with another illness such as anxiety disorder, substance abuse, or an eating disorder. People with bipolar disorder are also at higher risk for thyroid disease, migraine headaches, heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and other physical illnesses.

Psychosis: Sometimes, a person with severe episodes of mania or depression also has psychotic symptoms, such as hallucinations or delusions. The psychotic symptoms tend to match the person’s extreme mood. For example:

Someone having psychotic symptoms during a manic episode may believe she is famous, has a lot of money, or has special powers.
Someone having psychotic symptoms during a depressive episode may believe he is ruined and penniless, or that he has committed a crime.
As a result, people with bipolar disorder who also have psychotic symptoms are sometimes misdiagnosed with schizophrenia.

Anxiety and ADHD: Anxiety disorders and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are often diagnosed among people with bipolar disorder.

Substance Abuse: People with bipolar disorder may also misuse alcohol or drugs, have relationship problems, or perform poorly in school or at work. Family, friends and people experiencing symptoms may not recognize these problems as signs of a major mental illness such as bipolar disorder.

Risk Factors

Scientists are studying the possible causes of bipolar disorder. Most agree that there is no single cause. Instead, it is likely that many factors contribute to the illness or increase risk.

Brain Structure and Functioning: Some studies show how the brains of people with bipolar disorder may differ from the brains of healthy people or people with other mental disorders. Learning more about these differences, along with new information from genetic studies, helps scientists better understand bipolar disorder and predict which types of treatment will work most effectively.

Genetics: Some research suggests that people with certain genes are more likely to develop bipolar disorder than others. But genes are not the only risk factor for bipolar disorder. Studies of identical twins have shown that even if one twin develops bipolar disorder, the other twin does not always develop the disorder, despite the fact that identical twins share all of the same genes.

Family History: Bipolar disorder tends to run in families. Children with a parent or sibling who has bipolar disorder are much more likely to develop the illness, compared with children who do not have a family history of the disorder. However, it is important to note that most people with a family history of bipolar disorder will not develop the illness.

Treatments and Therapies

Treatment helps many people—even those with the most severe forms of bipolar disorder—gain better control of their mood swings and other bipolar symptoms. An effective treatment plan usually includes a combination of medication and psychotherapy (also called “talk therapy”). Bipolar disorder is a lifelong illness. Episodes of mania and depression typically come back over time. Between episodes, many people with bipolar disorder are free of mood changes, but some people may have lingering symptoms. Long-term, continuous treatment helps to control these symptoms.

Medications

Different types of medications can help control symptoms of bipolar disorder. An individual may need to try several different medications before finding ones that work best.

Medications generally used to treat bipolar disorder include:

Mood stabilizers
Atypical antipsychotics
Antidepressants
Anyone taking a medication should:

Talk with a doctor or a pharmacist to understand the risks and benefits of the medication
Report any concerns about side effects to a doctor right away. The doctor may need to change the dose or try a different medication.
Avoid stopping a medication without talking to a doctor first. Suddenly stopping a medication may lead to “rebound” or worsening of bipolar disorder symptoms. Other uncomfortable or potentially dangerous withdrawal effects are also possible.
Report serious side effects to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting program online at http://www.fda.gov/Safety/MedWatch  or by phone at 1-800-332-1088. Clients and doctors may send reports.
For basic information about medications, visit the NIMH Mental Health Medications webpage. For the most up-to-date information on medications, side effects, and warnings, visit the FDA website .

Psychotherapy

When done in combination with medication, psychotherapy (also called “talk therapy”) can be an effective treatment for bipolar disorder. It can provide support, education, and guidance to people with bipolar disorder and their families. Some psychotherapy treatments used to treat bipolar disorder include:

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
Family-focused therapy
Interpersonal and social rhythm therapy
Psychoeducation
Visit the NIMH Psychotherapies webpage to learn about the various types of psychotherapies.

Other Treatment Options

Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT): ECT can provide relief for people with severe bipolar disorder who have not been able to recover with other treatments. Sometimes ECT is used for bipolar symptoms when other medical conditions, including pregnancy, make taking medications too risky. ECT may cause some short-term side effects, including confusion, disorientation, and memory loss. People with bipolar disorder should discuss possible benefits and risks of ECT with a qualified health professional.

Sleep Medications: People with bipolar disorder who have trouble sleeping usually find that treatment is helpful. However, if sleeplessness does not improve, a doctor may suggest a change in medications. If the problem continues, the doctor may prescribe sedatives or other sleep medications.

Supplements: Not much research has been conducted on herbal or natural supplements and how they may affect bipolar disorder.

It is important for a doctor to know about all prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, and supplements a client is taking. Certain medications and supplements taken together may cause unwanted or dangerous effects.

Keeping a Life Chart: Even with proper treatment, mood changes can occur. Treatment is more effective when a client and doctor work closely together and talk openly about concerns and choices. Keeping a life chart that records daily mood symptoms, treatments, sleep patterns, and life events can help clients and doctors track and treat bipolar disorder most effectively.

Finding Treatment

A family doctor is a good resource and can be the first stop in searching for help.

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