The Best Way to Treat Bipolar
Bipolar disorder is a manic depressive illness that lasts for the lifetime of the affected. It can sometimes be difficult to diagnose this disorder and doctors have not yet discovered the actual causes. Bipolar cannot be cured, but it can be effectively managed through the use of medications and psychotherapy. These are the best ways that researchers use to treat bipolar disorder.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, “mood stabilizers are usually the first choice to treat bipolar disorder” and are often used for years. The most common drug is lithium, but other drugs prescribed include valproic acid, lamotrigine, and carbamazepine. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, “Lithium has been used for more than 50 years for the stabilization and treatment of bipolar disorder. It is typically more effective when administered earlier in the course of the illness. Research has also shown that it is most effective in those individuals with a family history of the illness and in those experiencing the bipolar I swings between mania and depression with a return to normal function between episodes. The use of lithium has proved effective in helping prevent relapse as well as beneficial in the continued treatment of bipolar depression. There is evidence that lithium can lower the risk of suicide but the FDA has not granted approval specifically for this purpose.” Each of the mood stabilizers help to return a person to more normal functioning
Antidespressants are, as the name suggests, prescribed to help treat the symptoms of depression associated with bipolar disorder. These include fluoxetine (Prozac), paroxetine, sertraline (Zoloft), and bupropion. Some side effects have been indicated with the use of antidepressants, and those who take them should be kept under close watch should signs of depression and thoughts of suicide deepen while taking the drug. The dosage can be changed according to what works best and should only be taken until the patient begins to feel better.
Antipsychotics are often used alongside other medications, especially mood stabilizers. Antipsychotics are often prescribed to help control manic episodes or depression. Regularly prescribed antipsychotics include olanzapine, aripiprazole, quetiapine and others. NAMI notes that “Olanzapine can be taken as a pill or a shot. The shot is often used for urgent treatment of agitation associated with a manic or mixed episode. Olanzapine can be used as maintenance treatment as well, even when psychotic symptoms are not currently present.”
Psychotherapy is often combined with medications in order to better treat the symptoms of bipolar disorder. There are various levels of psychotherapy including cognitive behavioral, family-focused, interpersonal and social rhythm therapies, and psychoeducation. Each of these therapies helps in different ways, by allowing the patient as well as their caregivers to learn more about the disorder and how best to handle the symptoms that are connected with it.
Other treatments are also available for those affected with bipolar disorder, including electroconvulsive therapy, sleep medications, and even herbal supplements. It is up to you and your doctor to determine which treatments work best for you. While you can’t cure bipolar disorder, you can control it. These treatments have been used by doctors to help with that.