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Is Britney Bipolar?

The media frenzy surrounding Britney Spears is showing no signs of slowing down. The most recent report from celebrity Web site TMZ.com is that Spears fled south of the border to Mexico to avoid a family intervention.

It's just one of the many incidents fueling the "Britney" rumor mill as to why the troubled pop star is acting the way she is.

One theory: She's bipolar.

"Aside from Britney, if someone were to tell me the story of a young woman who had been exposing herself, engaging with multiple sexual partners, drinking heavily and had dyed her hair a bizarre color and was changing it repeatedly and who wasn't able to maintain her ability in her job or connections with her family — I would put on the list of possibilities a mood disorder like bipolar," said Dr. Keith Ablow, a FOX News contributor and psychiatrist in a private practice in New York City.

"But I would never hazard a diagnosis of Britney without evaluating her face to face," he added.

Bipolar disorder, once known as manic depressive disorder, is a serious illness usually marked by extreme highs and lows. The disease can lead to risky behavior, often described as "manic behavior," as well as damaged relationships and careers and even suicidal tendencies if it's not treated.

"One of the hallmarks of bipolar is highs and lows during which someone can exhibit really unusual behavior and be very impulsive or, conversely, be very despondent," Ablow said.

"It's also not uncommon for people who are bipolar to modulate their moods with alcohol or other substances, and often one of the terrible tragedies about bipolar disorders is until it's brought under control it can wreak havoc on one's professional and family life," he added.

Other symptoms include:

— Inability to sleep or sleeping to excess

— Vast changes in appetite

— Inability to concentrate

— Irrational thinking of a morbid quality or very grandiose quality

— Fixed and false beliefs called delusions

— Feelings of worthlessness or feelings one is responsible for horrific acts in the world

— Overspending tends to go with mania highs, as well as gambling and sexual indiscretions

Manic Behavior?

Since Spears married Kevin Federline in a surprise ceremony in 2004, she has experienced her shares of highs and lows, to say the least.

From giving birth to her sons, just one year apart, to shaving her head in public, being photographed without underwear, beating a car with an umbrella and spending time in rehab, the Spears' life has been one big tabloid story.

But Ablow pointed out that it's not the photographers, newspapers and reporters that may be driving her to the edge.

"The problem is not paparazzi," Ablow said. "It's people behaving in her life as though she is a commodity when they should be behaving by loving and caring for her. Deep questions that sometimes affect celebrities are about agenda of family and friends."

When it comes to the family, Ablow said there are crucial steps that need to be taken.

"It is very important to reassure the person you have their best interests at heart," he said.

Ablow also noted it's important for family members to remind themselves that the stressful behaviors, words and feelings of someone suffering from bipolar may be due to the condition and not the person.

"All the fallout from bipolar disorder may require a healthy dose of forgiveness," he said, "because (the actions) can really be due to the illness."

In the most recent incident, Spears was taken to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles last week by paramedics after police were called to her home because of a custody dispute.

Spears was wheeled out on a stretcher following a stand-off that began when she reportedly refused to hand over her two sons, Sean Preston, 2, and Jayden James, 1, to ex-husband Kevin Federline's bodyguard.

In the week that followed, Spears lost her right to visit her sons and sole physical and legal custody was granted to Federline.

TV host Dr. Phil McGraw has also become embroiled in the drama.

According to the Associated Press, Spears' family said McGraw crossed the line by not keeping his mouth shut after making a house call on the singer last week. Appearing on NBC's "Today" show, a business manager for Spears' mother, Lynne, and younger sister, Jamie Lynn, said McGraw had betrayed the family's trust by talking to the media about Spears' mental health after showing up at the 26-year-old pop star's hospital room on Saturday for a visit.

The manager said McGraw was invited to the hospital by Spears' family, but "he was not invited to make this part of a public display or part of the media."

Earlier this week, McGraw said that he was shelving plans for a show on Spears' latest breakdown. He said Spears' predicament was "too intense" for him to go on with the show.

"Since Britney is a star and has been one since childhood, you can't be her doctor and broadcaster," Ablow said. "Right now, the medical and psychiatric treatment needs to proceed confidentially and privately."

The good news is that there are several effective treatments available for bipolar disorder.

Click here for more information on the latest bipolar drugs.

"Conditions often respond best to a combination of psychotherapy and medications," Ablow noted. "They should always be used in service to bring the person back to equilibrium, so that person can explore what stresses earlier or later in life contributed to his or her instability."

As for the non-stop media coverage, Ablow said the media will behave as the media does.

"In a perfect world, all media would conspire to slowly detox this young woman from public attention, he noted. "But as a clinician, you wouldn’t want it to end all at once for her because she could feel as if she was ending all at once too."

If the Mexico reports are any indication, Spears will stay under the media spotlight for sometime to come.