Bipolar Disorder Treatment

Bipolar disorder is a devastating condition that causes extremes of mood. More than 12 million Americans suffer from this disorder every year, including men, women, and children. For as yet unknown reasons, women are more likely to develop the disorder than men. Once known as manic depression, there are a number of different types of bipolar disorders. It is important to get an accurate bipolar disorder diagnosis in order to begin treatment. A variety of effective treatments for bipolar disorder are available. Treatments should be continued for a long period of time, as the illness tends to continue throughout your life.

Medical Treatment Options for Bipolar Disorder
Medical treatments are highly effective at controlling the symptoms of bipolar disorder. Though the disorder can't be cured, with the proper use of medication you will likely be able to have a happy and satisfying life. However, treating bipolar disorder can be tricky.

Often a variety of medications are required in order to control the disorder. Medications for depression, mania, and psychosis are often prescribed, and it is important to continue your medication even if you are feeling better. Early discontinuation of drug treatment for bipolar disorder can make your illness worse and more difficult to treat.

Mood Stabilizers: Mood stabilizers have long been prescribed for people suffering from bipolar disorder. They usually involve long-term use and may take a few weeks before they begin to take effect. The most common mood stabilizer prescribed is Lithium. These drugs are more effective at preventing manic episodes than they are at alleviating depression.

Anticonvulsants: Anticonvulsants are used to treat mania in bipolar patients. Anticonvulsants seem to help level mood, preventing manic episodes from occurring. Types of anticonvulsants include valproate, carbomazepine, and topiramate.

Antidepressants: Antidepressants are used to treat symptoms of depression in people with bipolar disorder. Mood stabilizers and anticonvulsants are often taken along with antidepressants in order to provide the best relief from symptoms. Commonly prescribed antidepressants include Wellbutrin (buproprion) and Paxil (paroxetine).

Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT): Electroconvulsive therapy is highly effective in treating severe cases of bipolar disorder. ECT is highly controversial, though, because of a history of abuse of this treatment. ECT involves sending electrical stimulations through specific parts of a patient's brain in order to "rewire" areas that are causing psychosis and mood swings. It is a proven treatment but does involve some side effects including temporary amnesia and joint and muscle stiffness.

Psychotherapy
Psychotherapy is an important part of the process of stabilizing your mood. In particular, a therapy known as Interpersonal and Social Rhythm Therapy has proven effective. This therapy helps you learn how to put structure into your life and improve your relationships. Therapy should be ongoing and continuous for the best effect.

Alternate Treatments for Bipolar Disorder:
Natural alternatives for bipolar disorder are available. It is recommended that this alternative be used to compliment medical treatment for the illness. Do not engage in any alternative therapy without first consulting a certified professional.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Omega-3 fatty acids have been linked to a 25% reduction in the symptoms of bipolar disorder. Omega-3 is found primarily in fish and fish oil. Capsules with high levels of EPA should be taken in order to produce an effect.

Vitamin B: Vitamin B deficiency is common in people suffering from major depression. Vitamin B1, B6, and B12 supplements may help boost mood during depressive episodes in people with bipolar disorder also.

Folic Acid: Folic acid is found in fruits, such as oranges, and leafy green vegetables, like spinach. Folic acid tends to be found in low levels in people suffering from depression. A supplement may help alleviate depressive symptoms.

Vitamin C: People who suffer from bipolar disorder often have an excess of vanadium in their blood. Vitamin C supplements will help to clear this and alleviate symptoms.

L-Tryptophan: L-Tryptophan is an amino acid that our body uses to make serotonin, a neurotransmitter. People suffering from bipolar disorder may have a lack of serotonin, so this supplement may help ease symptoms.

Lecithin: Lecithin is also used in creating neurotransmitters and it helps to stabilize mood.

Self Care
Though your bipolar disorder will require professional care, there are some things that you can do to help take control of your illness:

  • Take all of your medication. Even if you are feeling better, you must remain on your medication in order to prevent manic or depressive episodes.
  • Keep a calendar of your moods, symptoms, and sleep patterns. This will help you predict any manic or depressive episodes.
  • Try to reduce the stress in your life. Extreme stress can contribute to mania and depression. 60% of first manic episodes occur just after a particularly stressful event.
  • Maintain a schedule. Having a regular routine can do a lot to help stabilize your mood and prevent manic episodes.
  • Get a good sleep. Loss of sleep can contribute to manic tendencies and too much sleep can facilitate depression. Aim to sleep between 6 and 8 hours every night.
  • Start Exercising. Effects of exercise on bipolar disorder are numerous. Just a simple walk around the block can do wonders for your mood.
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