Treatment Options for Bipolar Disorder
Bipolar disorder isn’t an easy illness to deal with. When a person with bipolar disorder has an episode, emotions can range from euphoric highs to catatonic lows.
There are plenty of different treatment options for bipolar disorder. As difficult as it is to deal with, bipolar disorder is one of the most heavily researched mental illnesses. Through decades of research, a wide variety of both therapy and medications have been shown to benefit those living with bipolar disorder. Often both are used in conjunction with each other to form a well-rounded bipolar treatment plan.
Receiving treatment from a licensed therapist is an integral part of the treatment plan for people with bipolar disorder. There are a few different types of therapy that one can choose from to treat their bipolar disorder.
One of the most common types of behavioral therapy is cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). This works by changing behaviors that are associated with the negative symptoms of your illness. CBT helps teach you healthy coping mechanisms for dealing with the symptoms as well.
Since bipolar disorder can significantly influence your personal relationships at times, interpersonal therapy may be considered. Interpersonal therapy focuses on the impact the illness may have on your personal relationships and hopes to reduce its overall strain on them.
Maintaining a regular schedule for those with bipolar disorder is very important. It is important to keep both a regular dietary schedule and a regular sleep schedule. Social-rhythm therapy is another therapy option that one may consider to assist them in creating and/or maintaining a daily schedule.
Support Groups/Group Therapy
Support groups and/or group therapy is also an option that some may benefit from. Having peers who may share the same illness, or at least understand certain symptoms can be reassuring when you’re going through an episode.
Usually, these groups are mediated by a mental health professional as well. There are a wide variety of groups available both online and offline. If you’re considering this option, speak to your mental health professional to see what type of group you’d benefit the most from.
For those in need of more intensive care, there are treatment centers available. They can range from partial-hospitalization to intensive outpatient programs. These centers usually have licensed therapists and psychiatrists. This is extremely helpful for those that may require more intensive monitoring of their symptoms.
Speaking with your mental health professional may help identify which of these (if any) is the best option for you. After speaking with a mental health professional, make sure to follow-up with your insurance company to ensure that the costs would be covered.
To combat bipolar episodes, a psychiatrist may consider prescribing psychiatric medications. The medications prescribed to you depend on your specific diagnosis as well as the symptoms you’re experiencing.
Doctors may prescribe you with a wide variety of medications such as mood stabilizers, antipsychotics, anticonvulsants (may be used similarly to other mood stabilizers).
One of the most common mood stabilizers prescribed to those with bipolar disorder is lithium. It’s been used since the 1970s, and it has been shown to work successfully as a mood stabilizer, especially for those experiencing a manic episode.
However, it does require periodic blood tests to check your lithium levels to ensure they aren’t getting too high. Often times it can be prescribed in conjunction with another medication that helps treat the depressive end of bipolar disorder, like lamotrigine.
Lamotrigine is an anticonvulsant that has been shown to help significantly with both prevention of future episodes, as well as treatment of depressive ones. It’s often used as a maintenance type of treatment in conjunction with lithium at the onset of episodes.
While these medications help stabilize your mood, other medications may be used to treat other symptoms. If one is having trouble sleeping or experiencing paranoia, they may be prescribed an antipsychotic like risperidone, Seroquel, olanzapine, aripiprazole.
For trouble with sleep or anxiety, your doctor may consider prescribing you benzodiazepines such as Abilify, Xanax, Valium, or Ativan.
Lifestyle Changes That Can Help
Certain lifestyle changes can help you through the treatment process, as well. As we discussed earlier, maintaining a daily schedule is very important for both achieving and maintaining stability.
Making sure you eat enough food each day and ensuring that you get enough sleep each night are two things that are very important when it comes to maintaining stability. While it may sound funny, set a bedtime for yourself that ensures that when you wake up, you’ll have had at least seven to nine hours of sleep.
Diet can also impact your mood more than you’d think. Having a well-balanced diet helps protect both your physical and mental health. This is also especially important when taking certain medications that can increase weight gain, or have other impacts on your health.
Remember, stressors of any kind can trigger an episode, so reducing the number of stressors overall for yourself should always be a priority.
Treating and Living with Bipolar Disorder
Bipolar disorder can be a challenge. The highs and lows can be very intimidating, but they are not untreatable. After receiving treatment and achieving stability, many with bipolar disorder are able to live fairly normal lives.