Bipolar disorder is a mental illness that can cause extreme mood swings, concentration fluctuations, and other disturbances in your daily life. Treatment can help control these symptoms and prevent relapses. However, it can take time to find a treatment that works best for you.
A primary care doctor can be a good resource for finding a therapist who specializes in treating bipolar disorder. The therapist can then help you stick to the medication schedule and work with you on changing behaviors and relationships.
Individual or group therapy can help you learn how to manage your bipolar disorder. Cognitive behavioral therapy involves reframing thoughts and behaviors and developing problem-solving skills. It can also help you better understand how you feel and recognize early signs of a mood episode.
Family-focused therapy sessions are helpful in educating loved ones about the signs of a mood episode and preventing them from occurring. People can also work together to learn how to manage conflict in the home and keep the symptoms of bipolar disorder under control.
Some people need a combination of medications to treat their bipolar disorder. These may include lithium, carbamazepine, and valproic acid. Depending on your circumstances, your healthcare provider may recommend other options, such as an antidepressant. You should talk to your doctor about any concerns you have about side effects, and make sure to take your medication regularly. If you stop taking a medication without the doctor’s permission, it could increase the severity of your symptoms.
Medications for bipolar disorder vary in their effectiveness and side effects, so it is important to check with your healthcare professional before starting or stopping a new medication. Tolerance to medications can cause them to no longer work effectively. Also, if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, you should speak with your healthcare professional about the risks associated with certain medications.
Some people with bipolar disorder may have a genetic predisposition to the disease. If this is the case, you may have a family member who has had a history of the disorder. Other factors that trigger mood episodes are traumatic experiences, significant loss, and environmental stress.
You should also speak to your healthcare professional if you have suicidal thoughts. Patients with bipolar disorder are at an increased risk of committing suicide. Approximately 10-15% of people with the disorder complete their suicide.
If you do not respond to any of the medications you are on, your health care provider may suggest electroconvulsive therapy (ECT). Electroconvulsive therapy is a form of therapy that sends short electrical pulses into the brain, causing changes in brain chemicals. In addition to the usual medications, ECT can be a part of your bipolar disorder treatment.
When you are feeling better, you may decide to discontinue the medications you have been taking. But if your healthcare provider is not a fan of discontinuing your medications, you should continue with them until you can get a handle on your bipolar disorder. This can be a very stressful process.