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Treatments for Bipolar Disorder

Even if your symptoms of bipolar disorder are severe, mood swings and other symptoms can become stable with treatment. Bipolar disorder is a recurrent illness. Long-term treatment is strongly recommended to prevent future episodes. The best plan is one that combines medicine and psychosocial treatment to manage the disorder over time.
Bipolar disorder is best controlled when treatment is continuous. However, even when there are no breaks in treatment, mood changes can occur and should be reported to your doctor right away. Your doctor may be able to prevent a full episode by adjusting to your treatment plan. Work closely with your doctor and talk opening about treatment concerns and options. This can make a difference in how well treatment works.
Keep a chart of daily mood symptoms, treatments, sleep patterns, and life events. This may help you and your family understand the illness better. This chart also can help your doctor track and treat the illness most effectively.
Treatment will include:
  • Medicines to stabilize mood
  • Diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions that appear to be bipolar disorder, such as abnormal thyroid function or renal failure
  • Psychotherapy
  • Counseling to provide you and your family with support, education, and guidance
  • Possible electroconvulsive therapy in severe cases
Treatment involves the following:
MedicationsOther treatmentsLifestyle changesAlternative and complementary therapies

References

American Psychiatric Association. Diagnosis and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. 4th ed. Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Publishing, Inc.; 2000.

Bipolar disorder. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://dynamed.ebscohost.com/about/about-us . Updated October 30, 2012. Accessed November 7, 2012.

Bipolar disorder. National Institute of Mental Health website. Available at: http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/bipolar-disorder/complete-index.shtml . Published 2008. Accessed on November 7, 2012.

Estevez RF, Suppes T. Maintenance treatment in bipolar I disorder. In: Yatham LN, Kusumakar V, eds. Bipolar Disorder: A Clinician’s Guide to Biological Treatments. New York, NY: Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.; 2009: 107-152.

Hirschfeld R. Guideline Watch: Practice Guideline for the Treatment of Patients with Bipolar Disorder. 2nd ed. Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Association; 2005.

Kaye NS. Is your depressed patient bipolar? J Am Board Am Pract. 2005;18:271-281.

Miklowitz DJ, Scott J. Psychosoical treatments for bipolar disorder: cost effectiveness, mediating mechanisms, and future directions. Bipolar Disord. 2009 Jun;11 Suppl 2:110-22.

Price AL, Marzani-Nissen GR. Bipolar disorders: a review. Am Fam Physician. 2012;85(5):483-93. Available at: http://www.aafp.org/afp/2012/0301/p483.html

Salvadore G, Drevets WC, et al. Early intervention in Bipolar Disorder, Part II: Therapeutics. Early Interv Psychiatry. 2008;2(3):136-146.

Stern T, Rosenbaum J, et al. Massachusetts General Hospital Comprehensive Clinical Psychiatry. Philadelphia, PA: Mosby Elsevier; 2008.

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