Bipolar Disorder Treatment Options
Now that we know something about the illness and how it presents let’s move on to treatment. The treatment of bipolar I and II disorders are essentially the same. The goal of treatment in both disorders is to stabilize mood, treat hypomania or mania, treat depression and for the long run prevent relapses back into depression or hypomania/mania. Another key component or goal in treatment is to restore normal functioning. It is not of much value if symptoms appear to have gone away and if the patient is not back to work or has a normal life with family and friends.
Before we get to medications a word about the importance of therapy. Therapy is important for many reasons not least for ongoing stress management. This illness is very sensitive to stress and it must be kept at a low or at a manageable level. Diet, exercise and sleep are the key components. Diet is important for general wellbeing and to combat the tendency of some medications to induce weight gain.
Exercise is important for the brain as it stimulates production of new neurons in key areas. In this it can help the brain to heal literally from the affective episode. Adequate sleep is vital. Sleep deprivation is another stressor. Additionally, it is a frequent culprit in triggering hypomania/mania.
Medications play a central role in the treatment of Bipolar Disorder. This is a lifelong condition so medications need to be taken indefinitely to ward off further episodes of depression and hypomania/mania for the long term. If a patient decides to go off of medicines not that he/she is feeling well unfortunately it is only a matter of time before the illness comes back.
Since these medicines are taken fort the long haul it is decidedly important that the psychiatrist and patient work out together what are the best medicines for their condition with the least possible side effects. In future posts I will get into the nitty gritty of the many different medications that can be used nowadays to treat bipolar disorder.