Living with Bipolar Disorder and Treatment Options Available
Bipolar disorder is a mental illness that causes a person to experience extreme mood swings with bouts of mania and depression. It was previously known as manic depression and involves a series of highs and lows. When a person is in a manic episode, they will be happy or on what is called an emotional high. On the flip side, when they are on a low, they will be extremely sad and depressed, with no interest in activities that would otherwise please them. A person with bipolar disorder can experience mood shifts as often as a few times per week or as infrequently as a few times per year.
Although the disease can be disruptive to a person’s normal everyday life and is a long term condition, it is possible to control it with treatment. There are a few different options available for treating bipolar disorder, but in the majority of cases, medications may be prescribed and the individual will be recommended to seek therapy.
Because bipolar disorder involves the constant shifting of your moods, it is treated with three main categories of medications. Those are antidepressants, mood stabilizers and antipsychotics. For best results, most patients will utilize more than one form of treatment. In other words, medication coupled with psychotherapy is often the most successful. Traditionally, this would entail a combination of a mood stabilizer and antipsychotic drug in addition to the therapy.
Treatment for bipolar is most successful when it is done under the watch of a psychiatrist who is experienced in treating the disease as well as others. The patient may even have a team for their treatment that includes a psychologist, social worker and psychiatric nurse.
Initial treatment takes place first and requires the person to begin taking medications to keep their moods balanced. After some time, symptoms will be under control, and afterward, the doctor will work with the individual to determine the best treatment in the long term.
Mood stabilizers that may be prescribed for bipolar disorder include lithium, valproic acid, carbamazepine, lamotrigine and divalproex sodium. These work to ease manic and hypomanic episodes.
Antipsychotic drugs are those that are administered if the patient’s symptoms continue after using other medications. These include quetiapine, lurasidone, olanzapine, risperidone, aripiprazole, ziprasidone and asenapine.
There are also anti-anxiety drugs that your doctor might want to prescribe. These are generally benzodiazepines, which help to decrease anxiety and improve a person’s sleep. It is important to note that these anti-anxiety medications are only administered for a short period of time.
Psychotherapy is an essential part of the treatment of bipolar disorder. It can be done individually or with an entire family or within a group. There are a few different types that can be highly effective when coupled with medication. The therapies in question are cognitive behavioral, psychoeducational, interpersonal and social rhythm and others. It is important for the patient to talk with their doctor to decide which one is most appropriate.
Unfortunately, there are some individuals who still require additional treatment for their bipolar disorder. In those cases, the options available are electroconvulsive therapy or ECT and transcranial magnetic stimulation or TMS. These options are generally temporary and may need to be repeated every few weeks.
Regardless, with the right balance of treatment, the patient can find that their mood greatly improves and that their bipolar disorder is under control. As a result, they feel more in control.