FAQs about Bipolar Disorder

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Last Updated on Jun 20, 2017
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Frequently Asked Questions

1. Who treats bipolar disorder?

A psychiatrist is the one who treats bipolar disorders. However clinical psychologists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, and advanced psychiatric nurse specialists may also prescribe medications (depending upon licensing policies that vary).

2. What illnesses can co-exist with bipolar disorder?
  • Substance abuse is very common among people with bipolar disorder.
  • Anxiety disorders, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and social phobia.
  • Bipolar disorders also place people at higher risk for thyroid disease, migraine headaches, heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and other physical illnesses. The association with physical illnesses is due to a number of factors. Bipolar patients are less likely to receive medical care than people without the disease. Substance abuse in bipolar patients is another cause. A number of complications are side effects of the medications. Diabetes, and thyroid disease are typical examples. Genetic links are also thought to connect diabetes and bipolar disorder.

3. Should young women with bipolar disorder be put on valproic acid?

Valproic acid is known to increase levels of testosterone (a male hormone) and cause polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) in women. Hence young girls on this drug should be monitored for this condition. This condition leads to cysts in ovary and cause obesity, excess body hair and also disruptions in the menstrual cycle.

4. If I am taking lithium what precautions do I need to take?

Lithium when taken for long term can cause problems with thyroid hormone and lead to its under secretion or hypothyroidism, If this happens the energy levels in the body goes down along with other symptoms. Often a thyroid tablet maybe needed along with lithium to keep the balance.

5. Are drugs used to treat bipolar disorders safe in pregnancy?

No. Drugs should only be used as advised by your doctor. Pregnancy is a period that requires extreme caution since drugs may cause serious harm to developing foetus or nursing infant.

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