Carson Felkel, MD, FAPA,
Healthy Living

Dr. Felkel Breaks Down Bipolar Disorder

Nov 7 2022

The CDC reports that more than 50 percent of Americans will be diagnosed with a mental health illness or disease in their lifetime.

Bipolar disorder is a serious mental illness that causes changes in energy levels, mood and concentration. It can affect the ability for someone to carry out their daily tasks. This disorder most commonly presents in patients with depression.

“You spend the majority of your time in a depressed phase, but then you also have swings into what we call mania or hypomania, and this may look like someone having too much energy, really grandiose ideas about what they can create,” Carson Felkel, MD, FAPA, our ministry’s system medical director of behavioral health, explains about bipolar disorder.

When a patient mentions they feel depressed, their primary care provider will typically ask questions to determine if it could be bipolar disorder.

“After screening for depressive symptoms, we then do a little more questioning as to whether the patient has ever had the opposite of depression,” Dr. Felkel continues. “This means they are feeling too up or energetic or your mind is racing and you can’t fall asleep.”

From there, your primary care provider will try to rule out other conditions, like anxiety or ADHD, which can masquerade as bipolar disorder. The good news is that bipolar disorder is treatable with medication.

“Mood stabilizer medications are what we prescribe to bipolar patients,” Dr. Felkel explains. “They help your mood to not get too elevated while also treating the depression.”

Along with medication there are other forms of treatment, like psychotherapy, supportive therapy and group therapy, all of which are very helpful. For most people, a lifelong treatment of bipolar disorder is recommended.

“There is a high chance of relapse with mental health disorders or reoccurrence of the condition,” Dr. Felkel adds. “Therefore, you should always be on guard that you’re not going to fall into another episode.”

Learn about the behavioral and mental health services we provide at Bon Secours.

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