medical IDs for bipolar disorder

Medical IDs for Bipolar Disorder

The confidence to live with bipolar disorder

Everyone experiences ups and downs in their mood at times. For people with bipolar disorder, however, mood changes can be particularly intense. Rather than lasting a few hours, they can last days, weeks, or even months.

Because bipolar disorder is a brain disorder, these lows and highs are out of the person’s control. The lows dip into depression and the highs can be overwhelming, too (these are called mania or hypomania).

These episodes of intense mood changes can disrupt the ability to function. Thankfully, there are treatments that help to control disruptive symptoms of bipolar disorder, allowing people diagnosed with this condition to lead fuller, healthier lives.

During the mood episodes that are a part of bipolar disorder, a person can be at risk for dangerous behaviors driven by thoughts that are out of character for them. During these episodes, not only does a person not feel themselves, but they may not act themselves.

Wearing a medical ID for bipolar disorder that conveys important medical information to first responders can be a lifeline.

How MedicAlert protects those living with bipolar disorder

One thing you shouldn’t worry about is what could happen if there’s an emergency. MedicAlert’s protection plans offer benefits that extend beyond the ID, providing safety and peace of mind for people living with bipolar disorder, their families and caregivers.

24/7 Emergency Response

Our team provides first responders the information they need to provide fast, accurate care.

Digital Health Profile

All your vital information, all in one place for you and your caregiver.

Emergency Contact Notification

In an emergency, we connect families so that no one is alone in a crisis.

Patient Instructions

Share the information that’s important to your care, such as use of rescue medications or contraindication for tests like MRIs.

Pair a medical ID for bipolar disorder with the protection plan that’s right for you.

What is bipolar disorder?

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), around 2.3 million people in the U.S. are diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Bipolar disorder is a brain disorder that affects functioning, mood, and energy. 

It’s important to note that, like any other health condition, people with bipolar disorder cannot “will away” or control their symptoms. Treatment, however, can help improve the distress and difficulties these symptoms can cause.

There are 3 distinct types of bipolar disorder:

  • Bipolar I- in this type of bipolar disorder, disruptive highs in mood (mania) must either be severe enough to require hospitalization, or last at least 7 days. Depression can also be a part of bipolar I, with mixed episodes of both moods occurring, along with periods of normal mood and functioning. Depression is not always present in bipolar I.
  • Bipolar II- people with bipolar II have less severe episodes of elevated mood, often called hypomania. Depression is more common in bipolar II. People with bipolar II can also have periods of normal mood and functioning.
  • Cyclothymic disorder- people who experience chronic cycling between mood highs and lows for at least two years may be diagnosed with cyclothymic disorder. Additionally, there are rarely periods of normal mood and functioning, and they do not last longer than 8 weeks. 

What causes bipolar disorder?

The exact cause of bipolar disorder is still under research. What is important to know is that it is not due to a personality flaw or choices on the part of the person with the diagnosis. There is a great deal of stigma attached to bipolar disorder, with 79% of respondents in one survey indicating they do not discuss their diagnosis due to fear of repercussions.

It may be helpful to understand some of the contributing factors to bipolar disorder, which are not in a person’s control:

  • Genetics– the chances of bipolar are increased for people who have close family members with the same diagnosis.
  • Stress– stressful life events, such as a death in the family, abuse, trauma, divorce, or financial problems can trigger bipolar disorder. Researchers are still working to understand the impact stress has on mental illness, but there is evidence that long-term stress can change the structure of the brain.
  • Brain structure and function– some studies point to differences in the structure of some areas of the brain in people with bipolar disorder. Scientists are working to better understand this.

What to engrave on your MedicAlert medical ID for bipolar disorder:

MedicAlert offers free custom engraving on all our medical ID products. Engravings on medical IDs for bipolar disorder should include any critical medical information that can protect and save lives in an accident or medical emergency, for example:

  • Medical history including bipolar disorder and type
  • Any medications you take
  • Allergies
  • Any other details you want to be sure are easy to share
medical IDs for bipolar disorder

Sample engraving. Consult our team if you need help engraving your medical ID for bipolar disorder.

What are the symptoms and complications of bipolar disorder?

Symptoms of bipolar disorder fall into two categories: mania (or hypomania) and depression. According to the Mayo Clinic, people with bipolar disorder can experience the following:

Mood highs (mania or hypomania)

An episode must include 3 or more of these symptoms:

  • Increased energy and activity
  • Unusually reactive- jumpy, upbeat, or wired
  • Racing thoughts
  • Overly talkative
  • Increased distractibility
  • Decreased sleep (insomnia)
  • Euphoria, or an exaggerated sense of well being
  • Extreme self-confidence
  • Poor decision-making skills, including risky behaviors

Mood lows (depression)

An episode must include 5 or more of these symptoms:

  • Feeling sad, empty, hopeless, or tearful
  • Loss of interest and pleasure in activities
  • An increase or decrease in appetite, sometimes leading to unintended weight loss or gain
  • Sleeping too much, or not enough
  • Moving so slowly others notice, or the opposite- being fidgety and restless
  • Decreased ability to think, concentrate, or make decisions
  • Fatigue or low energy
  • Feelings of guilt or worthlessness
  • Thoughts of suicide

Along with these symptoms, severe complications include episodes of psychosis with manic episodes and suicidal plans and actions with depressive episodes. 

When a person with bipolar disorder experiences psychosis, the brain can make thoughts and experiences seem real even when they are not. This can cause confusion, erratic behavior, and even black-out-like symptoms. 

With major depressive episodes comes the risk of suicidal thoughts, plans, and actions. It’s estimated that 25%-60% of people with bipolar disorder will attempt suicide at least once. If you or a loved one with bipolar disorder experiences thoughts of suicide, you can reach the National Suicide and Crisis Hotline by dialing 988.

Along with recognizing the symptoms of an emergency related to bipolar disorder, wearing a high-quality medical ID can be helpful in these situations as well. A MedicAlert ID can help first responders understand your medical history and bipolar diagnosis in an emergency. 

How do you diagnose bipolar disorder?

To diagnose bipolar disorder, your doctor will take a medical history, discuss symptoms, and rule out other medical problems that could cause symptoms of bipolar disorder. They may also refer you to a mental health specialist such as a psychiatrist for further evaluation and treatment.

Mental health specialists use the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) to identify whether a person has bipolar disorder. The DSM-5 (the most recent edition) states if a person has had a manic episode (or hypomanic and depressive episode in bipolar II), bipolar disorder can be diagnosed.

Mental health providers use questionnaires and interviews of their patients to assess the severity and presence of bipolar disorder symptoms.

How do you treat, manage, and live with bipolar disorder?

Treatment for bipolar disorder involves several approaches. The most important part of this is medication. One of the commonly prescribed types of medication for bipolar disorder is mood stabilizers. Finding the best medication can take trial and error, so regular follow-up with your doctor is important. 

Along with medications, people with bipolar disorder can benefit from psychotherapy. Therapy can help people to learn coping skills for challenges and practice healthy approaches to problems. A therapist can also work with you to recognize early symptoms of a mood swing.

For some people who are not successful with medications and therapy alone, a treatment called electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) can be used. This treatment helps to “remodel” brain structure. A new therapy called transcranial magnetic therapy (TMS) is also being studied to see how effective it can be for bipolar disorder (it is already used to treat depression).

Any treatment for bipolar should be long-term to manage and control symptoms. Even with treatment, disruptive mood episodes can happen. It can be hard to advocate for yourself or clearly explain your bipolar history, medications, and other important information during a mood episode. MedicAlert can be your voice in these situations.

How medical IDs for bipolar disorder combined with MedicAlert Membership provide peace of mind

During the mood episodes that are a part of bipolar disorder, a person can be at risk for dangerous behaviors driven by thoughts that are out of character for them. During these episodes, not only does a person not feel themselves, but they may not act themselves.

Wearing a medical ID for bipolar disorder discloses important medical information to first responders and can be a lifeline. A highly recognizable MedicAlert ID bracelet can help to explain behaviors that first responders might be seeing but not understanding. This allows you to get the best possible care in an emergency. 

MedicAlert IDs, in combination with membership in a Protection Plan, are a 24/7 resource to help you to convey any information needed by medical personnel. Along with immediate details available on the ID, first responders can interact with a dedicated Emergency Response Team to access in-depth information. 

  • We’re your voice:  If you can’t speak for yourself due to a medical emergency, your ID will speak for you – informing others about your bipolar disorder and any medications you’re taking.

  • 24/7 emergency protection:  In an emergency, the MedicAlert team will relay all of your critical medical information to first responders, no matter where or when your emergency happens.

  • Always connected:  You should never be alone in an emergency. That’s why MedicAlert will reach out to your designated contacts if you are unable to do so.

  • Live with peace of mind and confidence:  MedicAlert will be there for you every step of the way. You’ll have the confidence and freedom to live your life with bipolar disorder, knowing we’ve got you covered. 
DISCLAIMER: THIS WEBSITE DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. The information in this article is presented for educational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis and treatment. Always seek the advice of a physician or other qualified healthcare provider for any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.