Successful treatment of bipolar disorder usually requires a combination of therapies and medications. Having people in your life who support you and watch out for warning signs is also important. It’s a good idea to find a support group where you can share your feelings with other people who have bipolar disorder and talk about what works and doesn’t work for them.
Medications are the mainstay of bipolar disorder treatment, and it’s important to take them as prescribed. Some people need to try several different drugs before finding one that helps, and some may need to continue taking medication for years. It’s also important to avoid alcohol and recreational drugs, as both can trigger episodes of mania or depression and interfere with the effectiveness of some mood-stabilizing medicines, such as lithium.
Psychotherapy, or “talk therapy,” is a valuable component of the treatment process. It can help you identify and change troubling emotions, thoughts, and behaviors that can lead to problems with work, relationships, and self-esteem. NYU Langone psychiatrists offer a variety of psychotherapies, including cognitive behavioral therapy, which can be done alone or in combination with medication.
Keeping a healthy routine can help balance moods and reduce the number of episodes you have. A regular sleep schedule, adequate hydration, and balanced eating are essential. Aerobic exercise, like jogging or swimming, can be especially helpful for those with bipolar disorder. It can improve mood, increase energy levels, and promote better sleep. Avoid high-stress situations and try relaxation techniques, such as meditation, yoga, or deep breathing. It’s also important to keep in contact with family and friends to maintain social connections, which can be a buffer against mood episodes.
If you’re having suicidal thoughts, call the emergency services number in your country or region immediately. You can also seek immediate treatment at a hospital emergency room or urgent care center.
There are some other treatments that can help with bipolar disorder, such as electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), which involves passing an electric current through your brain, or transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), a noninvasive procedure that uses magnetic waves to relieve depression over a series of sessions without requiring general anesthesia. Ketamine treatment, an anesthetic that acts as a rapid-acting mood stabilizer, has also shown positive results in some people with hard-to-treat bipolar disorder. These are often used when other treatments aren’t effective or when you’re at risk of harming yourself or others.