Search For A Cure
Scientific Breakthroughs & Caregiver Tips
How is Bipolar Disorder Treated?
There is no known cure for bipolar disorder, and treatment plans are intended to manage symptoms and lessen the severity of episodes when they occur. Treatment for bipolar disorder is ongoing and life-long, and it is important for sufferers to continue treatment without interruption as directed by their healthcare providers.
Many different medications may be used to treat and manage the symptoms of bipolar disorder, and individual medication plans are dependent on the particular symptoms that a given sufferer presents.
- Mood Stabilizers. These drugs are usually used to manage manic episodes. Mood-stabilizing drugs commonly prescribed for bipolar disorder include lithium, valproic acid, divalproex sodium), carbamazepine, and lamotrigine.
- Antidepressants. These drugs are typically used to manage depressive episodes in sufferers of bipolar disorder. However, antidepressants used alone are known in some cases to trigger manic episodes or rapid cycling, so they are usually used in combination with mood-stabilizing or antipsychotic drugs. The medication Symbyax combines the antipsychotic drug olanzapine with the antidepressant fluoxetine and is often diagnosed for bipolar sufferers.
- Antipsychotics. These drugs are usually prescribed when the symptoms of manic or depressive episodes don’t respond adequately to other medications alone. Commonly prescribed antipsychotics include olanzapine, risperidone, quetiapine, aripiprazole, ziprasidone, lurasidone, or asenapine.
- Anti-Anxiety Medications. Anti-anxiety drugs such as benzodiazepines are sometimes used to treat anxiety or sleep problems in bipolar sufferers, typically on a short-term basis.
Psychotherapy and counseling are often part of the maintenance phase of treatment once the disorder’s symptoms have been successfully controlled with medications. These therapies may help the patient to decrease stress and establish behaviors that help to lessen the impact of symptoms. Psychotherapy alone, however, is rarely enough to control bipolar disorder, and it is almost always used in conjunction with medications.
Substance Abuse Treatment
Because substance abuse is often coincident with bipolar disorder, treatment of the problem is commonly part of the overall treatment plan for bipolar sufferers. Without substance abuse treatment, patients are more likely to be non-compliant with other treatments, and even when the patient is compliant, the treatment of other symptoms may be less effective.
It is not uncommon for doctors to require hospitalization as a treatment for bipolar disorder, especially in high-risk patients (such as pregnant women) who are experiencing an extreme manic episode. These patients are likely to engage in potentially harmful behavior and are also likely to be non-compliant with treatment plans if left on their own. In some severe cases, doctors may recommend electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) when the mania does not respond to medications.
Make a Donation, Make a Difference
Your Donation Supports Crucial Brain Research
We have a direct connection with scientists so we are privy to projects in all stages of research. This gives us the insight to identify projects and allocate the dollars needed to find cures. Donate generously today to make a difference for future generations and your loved ones.
YOUR DONATION SAVES LIVES & BRINGS US CLOSER TO A CURE.
You Are Not Alone
For you or a loved one to be diagnosed with a brain disease or disorder, is overwhelming, and leads to a quest for support and answers to important questions. ABS has built a safe, caring and compassionate community for you to share your journey, connect with others in similar situations, learn about breakthroughs, and to simply find comfort.