Bipolar disorder and its various symptoms can be alleviated using a combination of medication, psychotherapy and lifestyle changes. Achieving complete relief from the condition is certainly a challenging prospect which requires as much self-help as medical aid. However, if an individual is committed to the cause and has a strong support system to fortify him, he can most certainly lead a normal, healthy life.
Treatment of bipolar disorder usually involves consultancy with a psychiatrist and/or a psychologist. Typically, it requires the guidance of both kinds of specialists to treat the condition with close attention to every aspect of its manifestation. Though the value of neither medication nor psychotherapy can be questioned, experts maintain that a serious mental illness of this nature necessitates allopathic consumption in most cases.
Several kinds of medications are used to target different aspects of bipolarity. The combination of drugs used depends upon the psychiatrist’s diagnosis and the specificities of symptoms as experienced by an individual. The various kinds of medications that may be prescribed include:
- Mood Stabilizers – These are used to control symptoms of mania and hypomania.
- Antidepressants – These are used to alleviate symptoms of depression. However, often the intake of antidepressants may trigger a manic episode, so doctors usually prescribe these alongside mild mood stabilizers as well.
- Antipsychotics – These are used when mood stabilizers alone fail to control symptoms of mania. This is supplementation which works in tandem with mood stabilizers but is rarely prescribed alone for treating bipolar disorder.
- Antidepressant-antipsychotics – Such medication combines the potency of both antidepressants and mood stabilizers. It is prescribed in cases where both the manic and depressive episodes are of milder intensity.
- Anti-anxiety medication – This is usually prescribed for the purpose of quelling agitation and promoting sleep.
The efficacy of these drugs varies from person to person. Finding the right combination of drugs thus takes time and several trial-and-error attempts. Usually, when medication is not satisfactorily effective, the doctor changes one medicine at a time to ascertain which drugs are helping and which are causing side effects.
A most vital component of bipolar disorder treatment, psychotherapy helps in coping with the condition and all the baggage it comes with. Psychotherapy for bipolarity can be administered in individual, family or group settings, depending upon the disposition of the patient and the specific demands of his condition. Several forms of therapy may be employed to help bipolar patients including:
- Cognitive Behavioural Therapy – This aims at identifying negative and unproductive beliefs and replacing them with positive ones. Such therapy can help realize what triggers varied mood episodes and help in developing coping mechanisms to counter those.
- Interpersonal and Social Rhythm Therapy (IPSRT) – This aims at stabilizing daily rhythms such as those of sleep, diet, exercise and more. Regularization of these aspects of lifestyles helps bipolar individuals avoid contingencies and stay away from triggers.
- Pyschoeducation –This is usually meant not just for the patient but for his family and close associates as well. Knowing more about the condition and how best to support the suffering individual can go a long way in promoting the treatment process.
There are several other medications, medical procedures, therapeutic practices and alternative methodologies employed for treating bipolarity. However, their effectiveness and suitability varies from one case to the next. Thus, people should take recourse to them only at the recommendation of an expert in the field.
Certain lifestyle changes may help in coping with the various by-products of bipolarity and avoid cycles of behaviour that trigger mood episodes. These include:
- Quitting alcohol and substance abuse – Intake of such substances enhances the negative potentiality of risk-taking behaviour. Quitting them may help lessen the frequency/intensity of mania and/or depression.
- Avoid negative and unhealthy relationships – Bipolar individuals must surround themselves with positive people and healthy social relationships – this will aid and stimulate the treatment process.
- Ensure regular exercise and sleep – Getting sufficient exercise and sleep helps achieve emotional and behavioural stability.
In conclusion, it must be reiterated that it is a combination of these varied forms of treatment that shall be truly effective in coping with and curing bipolar disorder.