What is What is Bipolar Disorder?

Bipolar 1 disorder is when people have manic and depressive episodes, and Bipolar 2 disorder is characterized by hypomanic episodes and depressive episodes. Find local mental health providers for bipolar disorder treatment.

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Kirtley Thornton

Kirtley Thornton

Charlotte, NC
Dr. Raja Abdel-Majid

Dr. Raja Abdel-Majid

Mississauga, ON
Ms. Lynda Mainwaring

Ms. Lynda Mainwaring

Associate Professor at the University of Toronto
Toronto, ON

Lakshmi Yatham, MBBS, FRCPC, MRCPsych (UK), discusses bipolar disorder.

Quiz: Do You Understand Anxiety & Panic Attacks?

Test your knowledge by answering the following questions:


Many people with anxiety disorder have panic attacks.

Anxiety disorder causes people to intermittently feel nervous, have a sense of impending doom or danger, sweat, hyperventilate or experience an elevated heart rate. Many people with anxiety disorder have panic attacks.

Physical activity won't reduce symptoms of anxiety.

Studies show that exercise may help reduce symptoms of anxiety. Exercise releases powerful chemicals such as endorphins and serotonin, which improve mood and feelings of well-being. It can lower cortisol (also called the “stress hormone”) levels and support nerve cell growth in the hippocampus, a region of the brain that helps regulate mood.

Foods rich in zinc have been linked to lowered anxiety.

Studies show that foods rich in zinc can reduce anxiety. Zinc is found in foods such as beef, poultry (dark meat), whole grains and nuts.

Panic attacks generally last about 25 minutes.

Panic attacks usually last less than 10 minutes. However, some of the symptoms may persist for longer.

There is no genetic component to anxiety.

Genetics play a role in anxiety. If someone in your family has an anxiety disorder, it's more likely that you will as well.
(Answer all questions to activate)

Lakshmi Yatham, MBBS, FRCPC, MRCPsych (UK), discusses treatment of bipolar depressive or manic disorders.

Lakshmi Yatham, MBBS, FRCPC, MRCPsych (UK), discusses treatment of bipolar depressive or manic disorders.

What is Bipolar Disorder?

Bipolar disorders are a type of mood disorder. There are several subtypes of bipolar disorders.

The most common ones are Bipolar 1 and 2 disorders. These affect approximately 5 percent of the population, which means that we have about 1.5 million people with this condition in Canada. Bipolar disorder is a serious psychiatric condition. The sad part is that, if not treated, approximately 15 percent of people with this condition kill themselves.

The good news is that there are several good treatments available for this condition and we know that treatments do reduce the risk of suicide, and also improve functioning. So if you do think that you have a bipolar disorder, make sure to seek help.

Presenter: Dr. Lakshmi Yatham, Psychiatrist, Vancouver, BC

Local Practitioners: Psychiatrist

Treatment of Bipolar Depressive or Manic Disorders

Treatment options for bipolar disorder in children, adolescents, adults and elderly are very similar.

We use same types of medicines to treat the symptoms of depression as well as manic episodes across the spectrum. The types of treatments that we use depend on whether you’re in a manic episode, a depressive episode or whether we’re using medicines to prevent you from experiencing another episode of depression or mania.

Typically, for a manic episode, we tend to use what are called mood stabilizers or atypical antipsychotics, or sometimes we combine those two groups of medicines to achieve improvement faster. For depressive episodes, we tend to use, again, either mood stabilizers or atypical antipsychotics.

Sometimes, we combine those with antidepressant medicines or some of the anticonvulsants, such as Lamotrigine, because those have proven efficacy in treating depressive symptoms.

Because bipolar disorder is a lifetime condition, treating acute episodes, such as manic episodes or depressive episodes, is not sufficient. Once we’ve treated those acute episodes, we have to make sure that we keep people well. We prevent them from experiencing another manic or depressive episode. Now, in order to do that, we prescribe medicines that have proven efficacy in preventing relapse of mood episodes.

In addition to prescribing medicines, we also would like to see people use psychological treatments, and there are several types of treatments that are available including cognitive behavioral therapy, interpersonal psychotherapy, psycho education. What these things do is that they help you to learn coping strategies to help you cope better with the day-to-day stressors in your life. We do know that stress destabilizes bipolar illness.

If you think you have a bipolar disorder and if you have more questions about Treatment of Bipolar Depressive or Manic Disorders treatment, please make sure to speak with your family physician or a psychiatrist.

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