GREENVILLE, S.C (WSPA)– The Center’s for Disease Control and Prevention reports more than 50 percent of Americans will be diagnosed with a mental illness or disorder at some point in their lifetime.

As part of our “Ask the Expert” series, in partnership with Bon Secours St. Francis, 7News’ Anchor Taylor Murray, spoke with a pyschiatrist about one serious mental illness, bipolar disorder, and how to treat it.

Bipolar disorder is a mental disorder that causes unusual shifts in mood, energy, activity levels, and concentration.

It can affect the ability to carry out day-to-day tasks.

Dr. Carson Felkel, a psychiatrist, says bipolar disorder most frequently presents 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. Their on an all time high and then afterwards they crash back down into depression.”

Dr. Carson Felkel, Pyschiatrist, Bon Secours St. Francis

A clinician will usually ask additional questions, Dr. Felkel says, when a patient mentions depression to determine if it could be bipolar disorder.

“After we screen for those depressive symptoms, then we need to do a little bit more questioning as to have you ever had the opposite of depression, feeling to up or energetic or you just can’t sleep and your mind is racing,” Dr. Felkel said.

Before a clinical diagnosis is given, your health care provider will try to rule out other conditions, like anxiety or ADHD, which can masquerade as bipolar disorder.

Dr. felkel says bipolar disorder is treatable with medication.

“You need what we call it a mood stabilizer and that medicine helps your mood to not get too elevated while also treating the depression,” Dr Felkel said.

There are other forms of treatment too…

“Like individual psychotherapy, supportive therapy, and group therapy are super helpful,” Dr. Felkel said.

Dr. Felkel says bipolar disorder affects men and women equally.

If someone in your family has it, then you are more susceptible.

Remission and lessening the frequency of episodes is possible, but lifelong treatment of bipolar disorder is still recommended.

“With mental health and addiction disorders there is a high relapse or reoccurrence of the condition and so you always have to be on guard that you’re not going to fall into another episode,” Dr Felkel said.

About 3-percent of the adult pouplation has bioplar disorder.

If you think that you are struggling with it, reach out to your primary care physician.

If you feel that your life is in danger, you must take immediate action and call 911 or go to your nearest emergency room.