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Bipolar disorder can be emotionally draining and interfere with your daily life, so our goal is to help you feel your best throughout your life. At Mercy, we’ll help you diagnose in order to find the right treatment based on your symptoms. Diagnosing bipolar disorder requires different assessments for adults than children. A comprehensive bipolar disorder evaluation for adults may include the following.
The first step is to consult your Mercy primary care doctor for a physical exam and lab tests to identify any medical issues that could be causing your symptoms.
Following your medical examination, your doctor may refer you to a Mercy psychiatrist for a psychiatric assessment. The psychiatrist will talk to you about your thoughts, feelings and patterns of behavior. With your permission, family members may also be asked to share their perspectives on your symptoms.
To help with diagnosis and treatment planning, you may be asked to keep a daily record of your moods, sleep patterns or other symptoms.
Although the diagnosis of children and teenagers with bipolar disorder relies on the same criteria used for adults, children and teens have different patterns of symptoms and may not exactly match the diagnostic categories.
Also, children who have bipolar disorder often have other mental health conditions such as attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or behavior problems, which can complicate their diagnosis. The best way to determine if your child has bipolar disorder is to talk to their pediatrician.
After you’ve been diagnosed, your Mercy provider can help find the right treatment for bipolar disorder. Depending on the type of bipolar disorder you have and the severity of your symptoms, your provider may recommend different types of treatment.
Bipolar disorder is a long-term illness that requires lifelong management. Medication is a common type of treatment for bipolar, however, there are different medications for different symptoms of manic depression. Your medications will likely take some trial and error to determine which type works best for you. Additionally, it's common for people with bipolar disorder to take more than one medication such as taking medication for agitation, anxiety, insomnia or depression. Some common types of medication include:
Psychotherapy or “talk therapy” can help people with a variety of mental health disorders including bipolar disorder. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is a common type of talk therapy used for bipolar patients. CBT helps you become aware of inaccurate or negative thinking so you can view challenging situations more clearly and respond to them more positively.
It’s common to notice fewer symptoms within two weeks of starting therapy, but it may take weeks or months before the condition is completely controlled. Because of this delay, antipsychotic drugs may also be used to help control symptoms.
ECT involves a brief electrical stimulation of the brain while the patient is under anesthesia. ECT has been shown to provide rapid improvement in symptoms associated with severe mania. This type of treatment is especially helpful if medication hasn’t relieved your symptoms.
While not all treatments are available in all areas, Mercy offers a variety of services. Your Mercy behavioral health provider will help connect you with the best possible treatments for the management of bipolar disorder.
Bipolar disorder is a chronic health condition that requires lifetime management. It’s possible to live a normal life, but it requires conscious effort. In addition to seeing your doctor and therapist regularly and taking medications as prescribed, you can work on these simple daily habits to positively impact your quality of life.
It’s not uncommon for patients who have been in remission to have a reoccurrence of symptoms. Keep in mind that reoccurrence isn’t failure, just a temporary setback. Patients and families should learn to recognize symptom flare-ups and contact their Mercy provider before symptoms worsen.
Mercy offers inpatient and outpatient locations for mental health across most communities.