If you or your relative/friend suffers from bipolar disorder, don’t postpone the visit to the doctor. The sooner you start the treatment the better chance you get to suppress the disorder. Timely and effective treatment reduces the symptoms of the disorder, the frequency of mood swings and it helps to live a normal life. This article is going to cast the light upon the life-long bipolar disorder treatment.
You won’t recover from bipolar disorder overnight. It will have its ups and downs, just like your mood swings. Finding a right and perfect treatment takes time and you may face some difficulties. But with the proper attention and the desire to be healthy, you will be able to regain control over your mind and enjoy healthy living.
Bipolar Treatment Options
If you are diagnosed with bipolar disorder, your doctor may offer some treatment options including meds. You may also need to visit other specialists to consult and to work on your personalized treatment plan with.
A comprehensive treatment plan is aimed to:
- ease the symptoms;
- reclaim your ability to act and solve the everyday problems;
- reduce the relapse possibility.
A complete treatment plan includes:
- Medications – are the basis of the bipolar disorder treatment. With their help, you will minimize the highs and lows of the disorder and keep the symptoms under control.
- Therapy – is necessary to fight the bipolar disorder and other problems caused by the disease. Working together with your doctor you will learn how to cope with hard feelings, stress, and emotions, how to restore the relations and control your mood.
- The knowledge of your illness – is essential in fighting and controlling the symptoms and the complications. It’s the key component of the treatment. The more you and your relatives know about bipolar disorder the easier it’ll be to avoid problems.
- Regulating your lifestyle – will minimize the mood swings. You’ll have to maintain sleep schedule, to avoid alcohol and drugs, to exercise and to stay positive by avoiding conflicts and stressful situations.
- Support – will enhance your motivation. You may join the support group which will enable you to share your experience and to learn something new from those who had been through it all. The support of your family and friends is vital indeed.
Medication treatment for bipolar disorder
The majority of the people suffering from bipolar disorder need medications to control their symptoms. A long-term treatment with meds can minimize the frequency and severity of mood changes and sometimes prevent them entirely.
If you have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, you’ll cooperate with your doctor to decide on the right drug or a mix of drugs suitable for your needs. Since everyone responds to meds differently, you may have to try various drugs before finding one that (or those) relieves your symptoms. Don’t even think about “getting” some meds without the doctor prescription – the consequences may be fatal.
- Visit your doctor regularly. It’s important to have the blood test frequently to make sure that the medication level is enough to treat and not to aggravate the situation. It is vital to stick to the prescribed dose of the medication. Close monitoring by your doctor will keep you safe.
- Keep taking your drugs even if your mood is stable. Don’t stop taking your drugs even if you feel better. To avoid relapse, you need to take your medications on a regular basis.
- Don’t expect your meds to solve all your problems. They can only help to reduce the symptoms of mania and depression, but to feel better, it’s absolutely essential to keep a healthy lifestyle, which will ensure your good mood. It includes the support of your friends and family, therapy and rest.
- Be extremely careful with antidepressants. The studies show that they are not particularly effective in treating the bipolar disorder. Besides, they can trigger mania or frequent sudden jumps from one stage of the disorder to another.
Discover more: Major depressive disorder - diagnosis and treatment
Therapy as an Essential Part of the Treatment
People who take meds have better chance to cure the disorder if they are also in therapy. Therapy will teach you how to deal with the problems caused by the bipolar disorder, such as problems with relations and your self-esteem. There are also other issues which will be discussed during therapy – drug abuse or anxiety.
The most helpful types of therapy for bipolar disorder are following:
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy
- Interpersonal and social rhythm therapy
- Family-focused therapy
Here you will find out how your thoughts affect your emotions and learn how to tune into the positive thinking from the negative thoughts. Bipolar disorder therapy serves to show you how to control the symptoms, solve the problems and avoid triggers which provoke relapses. Cognitive-behavioral therapy helps patients with bipolar disorder to understand and change the negative or distorted thinking patterns and behaviors associated with the disease.
Psychological education introduces patients with information about the disease and its treatment and helps to learn to recognize the signs of relapse, which allows turning for help in advance, thus preventing the onset of the full episodes. Mental enlightenment is useful for members of a patient’s family.
Interpersonal and social rhythm therapy
Interpersonal therapy is designed to improve your relations with people by answering the topical questions about the communication. This type of treatment is going to relieve stress; and since the latter is a trigger for bipolar disorder, interpersonal and social rhythm therapies will contribute to reducing the mood swings. They will become less frequent and less severe.
Interpersonal therapy is often mixed with social rhythm therapy to fight bipolar disorder in a more efficient way. People with this disease are believed to have overly sensitive biological clocks, which can be easily disrupted by your daily pattern. Social rhythm therapy focuses on stabilizing social rhythms such as sleeping, eating, working. When these rhythms are stabilized, the biological rhythms which control your mood remain stable as well. Interpersonal and social rhythm therapy helps patients with bipolar disorder to improve interpersonal relationships and organize their schedule. Regular schedule and orderly sleep help to prevent manic episodes.
Leaving with a person suffering from the disorder is very difficult and causes tension between family members. Family-focused therapy is designed to solve these problems and is oriented to bring the healthy and favorable home environment back. The main component of this therapy is to pass your relatives all the knowledge about the disorder and the methods of its treatment. Family therapy uses a strategy of lowering the level of tension in the family that can aggravate symptoms or provoked them.
Alternative Methods for Bipolar Disorder Treatment
Most complementary methods for bipolar disorder treatment are simply additional treatments. It means that they are to be used along with meds, therapy, and changes in lifestyle. Here are some of these useful options:
- Light and Dark Therapy – as the social rhythm therapy, “light” and “dark” therapy is focused on biological clock of the people with bipolar disorder. This easily disrupted clock is responsible for sleep-wake cycles. Therapy offers the help with stabilizing the biorhythms by carefully managing your exposure to the light. One of the major components of this therapy is to restrict daylight or artificial light for ten hours every night.
- Mindfulness and meditation – studies have shown that mindfulness-based cognitive therapy and medications help to fight and prevent depression, anger, anxiety, and agitation. Meditation, yoga, breathing exercises and awareness of the present help break through negative thoughts.
- Acupuncture – is another additional method of treating bipolar disorder. Some scientists believe that it can help people by modulating their stress response. Studies on acupuncture for depression have already shown a reduction in symptoms, and there is increasing evidence that acupuncture may also relieve the symptoms of mania.
The success of the bipolar disorder treatment depends on many factors. The meds alone are not enough. To get the maximum from the treatment, it’s very important to educate yourself about the disorder, to consult with therapists and psychologists without any fear, to ensure you have a support from your friends and family. All these things together will help you to leave a healthy normal life and to stick with the treatment.