Although bipolar disorder is a devastating illness, it is possible to treat it and live a healthy, productive life. Treating bipolar episodes requires lifelong management of the illness and its symptoms, even during periods of mood stability. A psychiatrist or a team that includes psychologists, psychiatric nurses, and social workers guides the process of treating bipolar episodes. Medications and individual, group, or family psychotherapy are also used to treat bipolar disorder. A number of techniques and therapies exist to make living with this mental illness easier.
If your episodes of mania and depression cause you to behave dangerously or if you have suicidal thoughts, you may benefit from hospitalization. Any signs of psychosis warrant hospitalization. Hospital workers ensure you receive the proper attention and guidance needed to bring bipolar disorder under control.
When treating bipolar episodes, it’s imperative that you communicate with your doctor. You should take part in decisions about your diagnosis and treatment of bipolar disorder. Talk to your psychiatrist about periods of mood stability as well as about episodes of mania and depression. Periods of stability sometimes offer insight into what triggers episodes of mania and depression.
Keep a Journal
A journal of your thoughts, feelings, actions, and episodes is extremely beneficial when treating bipolar disorder. Sharing a journal with your therapist will help with deciding how to treat your disorder. A journal also enables you to study events that may trigger your episodes of mania and depression. For many people, writing in a journal helps to relieve anxiety.
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Nurture Understanding with Family
Coping with psychiatric illness is much easier with the understanding and full support of people who are close to you. Families benefit from therapy sessions that heighten awareness of bipolar disorder and the accompanying symptoms.
Identifying Different Types of Episodes
You should understand the terms rapid cycling and mixed episodes. Rapid cycling occurs when you alternate between states of mania and depression several times during a day. Mixed episodes are periods when mania and depression are present at the same time. To help with diagnosing and treating bipolar episodes, you should tell your doctor if you are experiencing either of these conditions of bipolar disorder.
Natural or Nonprescription Alternatives for Treatment
Natural treatments such as herbal supplements and amino acids alleviate symptoms of in some people. Among these supplements are kava, valerian, and 5-HTP. Natural therapies may not help everyone, and it is important to consult a doctor before taking them. To prevent adverse interactions, tell your doctor all the supplements you are taking.
Mood Stabilizers and Antidepressants
You’ll probably need to begin taking medication immediately upon starting treatment for manic depression, and it will take some time for the medications to have an effect. A mood-stabilizing drug, such as lithium, is initially prescribed, and this is often sufficient medication for treating bipolar illness. Although antidepressants shouldn’t be taken alone for manic-depressive illness, they may be prescribed in conjunction with a mood stabilizer or other medications. Antidepressants include Wellbutrin and Paxil, or a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor, more commonly identified as an SSRI, is prescribed.
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In some situations, additional drugs may be incorporated into your treatment plan. These include anticonvulsants, such as Depakote or Lamictal, and atypical antipsychotics, such as Abilify or Seroquel. If you have issues with anxiety, benzodiazepines are useful. These include Klonopin and Ativan.
Always tell your doctor how your medications make you feel. If you are unhappy with any drug, tell your psychiatrist before you stop taking it. Sudden cessation of the use of any drug might cause withdrawal symptoms and may even lead to relapse of the illness. For your safety, your doctor can monitor you while gradually weaning you from the drug. Many medications are available for treatment of bipolar disorder. If your medications aren’t having the desired effect, your doctor can prescribe a different drug or combination of drugs to continue your treatment.
Therapy for Bipolar Disorder Treatment
There are numerous therapies that you should consider when treating bipolar disorder. The following five approaches may help you treat your disorder a day at a time.
Cognitive therapy is also known as exposure therapy. This treatment exposes you to the effects of your illness in order to help you understand it. During cognitive therapy sessions, you’re provoked into feeling anxiety, anger, or depression. Being pushed into negative situations helps you face your manic-depressive illness and its effects, giving you the opportunity to learn ways to cope with symptoms of bipolar disorder in a safe, controlled environment.
A connection exists between worrisome situations and habitual reactions to those situations. Behavioral therapy helps to weaken those connections. This type of therapy teaches you how to stay calm and think clearly when confronted with troubling situations, helping you deal with symptoms of bipolar disorder more easily.
Literary therapy entails gathering information, such as articles, books, and videos about bipolar disorder to aid the healing process. By attaining in-depth knowledge of your illness, you begin to control it more effectively.
Talk therapy aims to treat bipolar disorder through communication. Talking to a therapist, friend, or family member can help you deal with symptoms of manic-depressive illness. Because communication is natural for human beings, talk therapy is typically an easy and accessible method for coping with your illness.
Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) often works when medication doesn’t. During an ECT procedure, electric currents are passed through your brain and cause you to have a brief seizure that changes your brain chemistry. ECT seems to reverse the symptoms of mental illnesses quickly.
Treating Comorbid Disorders
Comorbidity describes situations in which more than one disorder is present. A high occurrence of comorbidity exists for bipolar disorder. It is also common for a bipolar individual to suffer from drug or alcohol addiction. It’s important to treat these conditions in order to deal with bipolar disorder properly. Seek treatment for any addictions or psychiatric problems aside from manic-depressive illness.