[Bipolar] disorder, which affects more than 2 million U.S. adults, must be carefully managed. When it is not, or when it cannot be because, as often happens, patients do not take the medicine that helps smooth their emotional peaks and valleys, families unravel, careers implode and life may turn violent, even deadly.

A story in The Miami Herald warns of the dangers of going off medication, a serious problem among bipolar persons, who may mistakenly feel they no longer need medication when not depressed. But a balanced mood can escalate into mania or crash into depression without warning.

Another danger is going off meds when hypomanic or manic, feeling on top of the world but able to spin off into space.

Linda [P] wrestles always with a mother’s grief, remembers with a mother’s heart. “I would lay in bed at night, and I would imagine these horrible things happening,” she says. “Somebody stabbing Aaron, somebody raping Aaron. . . None of that happened, but he still died a worse death.”

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