BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Every year on March 30, we take a closer look at a challenging condition that the National Institute of Mental Health says affects an estimated 4.4 percent of American adults at some point.

Thursday is World Bipolar Day. Dr. Michael Cummings, who works in adolescent psychiatry at ECMC, joined us to talk about it.

There are different types of bipolar disorder, but Dr. Cummings says it is characterized by fluctuations of highs and lows in one’s mood. For a person with bipolar disorder, these changes occur over longer periods of time — days and weeks, not hours.

In addition to periods of deep depression, bipolar disorder can also mean periods of mania, which Dr. Cummings described as a highly elevated mood. This can include inflated self-esteem, as well as risky, potentially dangerous behaviors such as hypersexuality, and a feeling of decreased need for sleep.

It is less common for children to have this condition, but in kids, it can appear as irritability, Dr. Cummings says.

Bipolar disorder can be very difficult to live with, impacting various aspects of a person’s life. An August 2019 article published in Medicina says 20-60 percent of people with bipolar disorder attempt suicide at least once in their lifetime. Dr. Cummings says roughly 15 percent end their lives.

Bipolar disorder can require the help of a mental health provider and is treatable, Dr. Cummings says.

If you or someone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts, the National Suicide and Crisis Lifeline can be reached 24 hours a day by dialing 988.

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Evan Anstey is an Associated Press Award, JANY Award and Emmy-nominated digital producer who has been part of the News 4 team since 2015. See more of his work here and follow him on Twitter.