Bipolar disorder is a lifelong condition where the manic ups and depressive downs can make it difficult to lead a productive life. If left untreated, it only tends to get worse. Professional bipolar disorder treatment is highly advisable. Early diagnosis and treatment is therefore key to successfully avoiding the symptoms of bipolar disorder and keeping it under control.
Treatment for bipolar disorder usually involves a combination of medication, therapy and lifestyle changes. However, this is easier said than done. Recovering from bipolar disorder is no easy task. You need to educate yourself about the illness and communicate clearly with your doctor or therapist. You should get support from friends and family. Make healthy lifestyle changes and rigorously stick to the treatment plan. Also accept that there will be challenging times and set backs during the treatment period. Staying positive and continuing treatment will eventually help you take control of your life.
Depending on your doctor’s advice and symptoms, treatment for bipolar disorder may include taking mood stabilizing treatments. Once the mood swings are under control, you need to work on a long term program. This usually involves a maintenance treatment to avoid relapses. If necessary, the doctor may recommend a day treatment program where you can undergo counseling. If you have problems with drugs or alcohol, you’ll also need to undergo substance abuse treatment to manage bipolar disorder. If your behavior becomes dangerous or suicidal, or if you become detached from reality, your doctor may recommend hospitalization.
Bipolar Disorder Treatment – Medication
A number of medications are used to treat bipolar disorder. They are prescribed according to the symptoms that you are experiencing. Some of the medications include:
Mood stabilizers: Mood stabilizers such as lithium carbonate and valproic acid are some of the common bipolar disorder medications prescribed.
Antipsychotics: If the mood swings still persist, the doctor may prescribe antipsychotic medication such as olanzapine, risperidone, and lurasidone among others.
Antidepressants: If you have depressive episodes, your doctor may include antidepressants to manage your depression.
Antidepressant-antipsychotic: Your doctor may also prescribe Symbyax or Quetiapine. It’s approved by the Food and Drug Administration specifically for the treatment of depression in bipolar I and II disorders.
Anti-anxiety medications: Benzodiazepines may be recommended for the short term for relieving anxiety.
Side Effects of Bipolar Disorder Medications
Medications used for bipolar disorder treatment generally come with some side effects. If the side effects are too much to handle, you may be tempted to reduce your medication or stop it altogether. However, you must never do this as it results in withdrawal effects or relapse. In some cases the side effects may not last long as your body adjusts to the medications. If you experience side effects, talk to your doctor.
Sometimes, you may have to try different medications to find one that best works for you. Finding the right medication requires time and patience as some medications need weeks to take full effect. Only after that your doctor can change it for you.
Bipolar Disorder Treatment – Psychotherapy
Psychotherapy is usually an integral part of bipolar disorder treatment. It may include:
Cognitive behavioral therapy : Cognitive behavioral therapy can be helpful. It can identify unhealthy, negative attitude and behavior and replaces them with healthy, positive ones. If you need help in finding a psychologist in your area, make use of APA’s Psychologist Locator Service to find one.
Psychoeducation: Educating yourself about bipolar disorder can help you understand and recognize the warning signs of mood swings. It will also help you know the best ways you can seek treatment.
Interpersonal and social rhythm therapy (IPSRT): Following a consistent routine for sleep, diet and exercise greatly helps in managing bipolar disorder. IPSRT emphasizes on maintaining this daily consistency.
Other therapies: Depending on your symptoms, other treatments such as Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) or Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) can also be included in your treatment. This is usually undertaken when normal medications don’t work or cannot be administered due to various health reasons.
Bipolar Disorder Treatment – Lifestyle Changes
Medication and therapy alone is not enough in treating bipolar disorder. Making healthy lifestyle choices also play a supplementary role in bipolar disorder treatment. It can help minimizing mood swings and helping you take control of your life. Here are some lifestyle changes you can make:
Quit Alcohol and Illegal Drugs : Drug or alcohol abuse is one of the risky behaviors you tend to slip into when you have bipolar disorder. If you are abusing drugs or alcohol, you have to quit it right away. If you are not able to do it on your own, get help.
Build Healthy Relationships: Spend more time with people who are a positive influence. They will dissuade you from falling into risky and unhealthy behavioral patterns that can worsen your bipolar disorder.
Exercise Regularly: Regular physical activity and exercise will steady your mood as feel good endorphins are released. Doing mindfulness meditation including yoga, meditation also helps to push away negative emotions and thoughts. Check with your doctor before starting an exercise regime to make sure that it doesn’t interfere with your medication.
Get plenty of sleep: Sleep well, at least for 8 hours and maintain a regular sleeping schedule. If you have trouble sleeping, you can try the following self help remedies. If that doesn’t work, speak to your doctor about it.
Eat Healthy Foods: Eat foods rich in omega 3 fatty acids. Take plenty of fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains in your diet and reduce your intake of fat, sugar and caffeine.
Bipolar disorder is treatable, but it’s a long term process. Keep positive, stick to your treatment plan and you will be able to overcome it and lead a healthy life.