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Bipolar Disorder (cont.)

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How is bipolar disorder treated during pregnancy and the postpartum period?

When treating pregnant or postpartum individuals with bipolar disorder, health-care professionals take great care to balance the need to maintain the person's stable mood and behavior while minimizing the risks that medications used to treat this disorder may present to the patient, developing fetus, or nursing infant. While many medications that treat bipolar disorder may carry risks to the fetus in pregnancy and during breastfeeding, careful monitoring of the amount of medication that is administered as well as the health of the fetus or infant and of the mother can go a long way toward protecting the fetus or infant from any such risks, while maximizing the chance that the fetus or infant will grow in the healthier environment inside or outside the womb afforded by an emotionally healthy mother.

What are complications and the prognosis/effects over time of bipolar disorder?

While the prognosis for bipolar disorder indicates that individuals with this disorder can expect to experience episodes of some sort of mood problem up to 60% of the time, those episodes can be well managed by the combination of psychotherapy and medication treatment. There are a number of potential complications of bipolar disorder, particularly if left untreated. This illness may be compounded by other mental-health problems including substance abuse and addiction, whether it be to legal substances like alcohol or tobacco, prescription medications like amphetamine and dextroamphetamine (Adderall) or hydrocodone/acetaminophen (Vicodin), or to illicit drugs like heroin or cocaine. Bipolar disorder sufferers tend to experience thinking (cognitive) problems and those who are repeatedly hospitalized psychiatrically have more trouble functioning throughout life. The risk of committing suicide is 60 times higher for people with bipolar disorder compared to the general population. That may be partly due to the chronic emotional pain that some people with this disorder experience, in that they endure years of depressive and manic symptoms, the consequences of their actions during those disease states, as well as potentially longing for the increased energy and sense of well-being of mania that may be quelled by psychiatric medications. Bipolar disorder is the fifth leading cause of disability and the ninth leading cause of years lost to death or disability worldwide.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 2/22/2017


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