The main goal of treatment is to:
- Make the episodes less frequent and severe
- Help you function well and enjoy your life at home and at work
- Prevent self-injury and suicide
Medicines are a key part of treating bipolar disorder. Most often, the first medicines used are called mood stabilizers. They help you avoid mood swings and extreme changes in activity and energy levels.
With medicines, you may begin to feel better. For some, symptoms of mania may feel good. Or side effects from the medicines may occur. As a result, you may be tempted to stop taking your medicine or change the way you are taking them. But stopping your medicines or taking them in the wrong way can cause symptoms to come back or become much worse.
Family members or friends can help you take medicines the correct way. They can also help to make sure that episodes of mania and depression are treated as early as possible.
Other medicines, such as antipsychotics or antidepressants, may be tried.
Regular visits with a psychiatrist to talk about your medicines and side effects are needed. Blood tests are often needed also.
Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) may be used to treat the manic or depressive phase if it does not respond to medication.
Patients who are in the middle of a severe manic or depressive episode may need to stay in a hospital until they are stable and their behavior is under control.
SUPPORT PROGRAMS AND TALK THERAPY
Many people with bipolar disorder do not recognize when they are becoming more depressed or more manic. Joining a support group may help you and your loved ones. Involving family members and caregivers in your treatment programs may help reduce the chance of symptoms returning in the patient.
Important skills that may be learned at such programs include:
- Coping with symptoms that are present even while taking medications
- Getting enough sleep and staying away from recreational drugs
- Taking medicines correctly and how to manage side effects
- Watching for the return of symptoms, and knowing what to do when they return
- Finding out what triggers the episodes and how to avoid these triggers
Talk therapy with a mental health provider may be helpful for people with bipolar disorder.