(Houston, TX, Thursday, September 17, 2020) – The uncertainty and grief brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, and the lifestyle changes necessary to slow the spread of the virus are likely to have a profound impact on the mental health of many Americans – particularly for the nearly 1 in 5 Americans living with preexisting mental health conditions, such as bipolar disorder.

There are nearly 11 million people in the U.S. living with bipolar disorder (including bipolar I, bipolar II, and other subtypes). Bipolar I disorder is characterized by unpredictable high and low mood swings, also known as manic and depressive episodes. Due to the circumstances of the pandemic, these mood episodes may be aggravated. Additionally, consistent treatment is vital for people with bipolar I disorder to help manage the condition. However, many people are delaying what they perceive to be non-urgent medical visits due to concerns about the spread of COVID-19 and isolation and quarantine can make getting medications in a timely manner more challenging.

As a result, some may be seeking advice for themselves or a loved one on how to manage bipolar I disorder and when to seek help. Dr. Kathy Flanagan, an experienced board-certified psychiatrist, discusses:

  • What bipolar I disorder is and how COVID-19 can potentially impact symptoms
  • Why consistent treatment and care for bipolar I disorder, despite these obstacles, is more important now than ever; and how to prevent the pandemic from interrupting your care or the care of a loved one, including:
    • Tips for making the most of virtual telemedicine appointments
    • How to recognize and flag worsening of symptoms
  • A current treatment option that can help manage the highs and lows of the condition.

Kathy C. Flanagan, MD, is president of the Houston Medical Forum and is also diplomate of the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology. A solo, private practitioner for more than thirty years in the Upper Kirby area of Houston, TX, she specializes in mood disorders (depression, anxiety, bipolar affective disorder) and adult ADHD.

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