Treating Bipolar Disorder
Bipolar disorder results in extreme mood swings that can greatly disrupt your life. These symptoms may cause you distress. But with treatment, you can lead a more normal life.
Bipolar disorder is often treated with medicines that stabilize moods. They help you feel better by keeping your moods more even, and help prevent future mood swings. Sometimes you may also be prescribed medicines that treat depression or for times when thoughts and emotions are so affected that you lose contact with external reality. Medicines prescribed are based on your symptoms, your response to the medicine, and the type and severity of side effects. Because of that, both the dose and the type of prescribed medicine can change over time. All medicines can have side effects. If you’re troubled by side effects, tell your healthcare provider. Changing the dose or type of your medicine may help. But don’t stop taking medicines or increase or decrease the amount you take until you talk with your healthcare provider. Unplanned medicine changes can cause serious side effects or the return of symptoms.
Talk therapy (psychotherapy)
Talking to a therapist or counselor may be part of your treatment. Having bipolar disorder can make it hard to hold a job or go to school. It can create stress for both you and your loved ones. A therapist can teach you how to cope with bipolar disorder. This can help you lessen manic or depressive episodes, or even prevent them. Your therapist can help you work out problems and heal relationships. He or she can also provide support when you need it most.
Friends and family
Those closest to you may also need support. There are many groups for families of people with bipolar disorder. Learning more about this disorder can help your loved ones cope. It can also help them take an active role in your care.
People with bipolar disorder have periods with no symptoms and can function successfully in a variety of settings. But it is a chronic illness that requires lifetime care. Just as with heart conditions or diabetes, bipolar symptoms can return or treatments many need to be changed. Ongoing professional support is key to effective long-term management. Much research is being done on bipolar disorder. This research may lead to improved treatments and hope for a better future.
To learn more
National Institute of Mental Health 866-615-6464 www.nimh.nih.gov
National Alliance on Mental Illness 800-950-6264 www.nami.org
Mental Health America 800-969-6642 www.nmha.org
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 800-273-TALK (800-273-8255) www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org