What Are the Top Treatment Options for Bipolar Disorder?

When you’re living with a mental health condition, finding the right treatment option takes time, dedication, and perseverance. And that’s especially the case for anyone who’s been diagnosed with bipolar disorder.

Bipolar disorder affects nearly 3 percent of the U.S. population according to NAMI, and this mental illness causes dramatic mood shifts while affecting individuals’ ability to think clearly. It’s an illness that can affect every day of a person’s life.

And because bipolar disorder is a lifelong condition, it’s not easy to find a treatment option that helps those diagnosed feel “normal.” However, there are treatment options available – it just takes time, knowledge, and research to find one that works.

If you’re wondering how bipolar disorder can be treated, the following are some of the top treatment options prescribed by doctors.

Medications

Medication is the number one way bipolar disorder is treated. Medication is convenient, making treating and managing the symptoms of bipolar disorder easy enough to do each and every day. However, if you’re using medication to treat this mental illness, you must stick to your medication over the long-term – and it can take a few different tries until you find a medication that suits you and your mental health.

Medications for bipolar disorder are typically prescribed and decided on after discussing your symptoms with a doctor. According to the Mayo Clinic, the following types of medications are commonly prescribed to treat bipolar disorder:

  • Mood stabilizers: These types of medications are meant to control manic or hypomanic episodes.
  • Antipsychotics: These medications are often used in combination with other medications. Antipsychotics are prescribed if you’re still experiencing depression or mania while using other bipolar medications, and they can be paired with mood stabilizers.
  • Antidepressants: If you’re struggling with depression, an antidepressant can help control its symptoms. However, because antidepressants can be problematic for those with bipolar, these medications are often prescribed with mood stabilizers or antipsychotics.
  • Antidepressant-antipsychotic: These medications combine both antidepressant and antipsychotic medications into one pill. As a result, these combination medications work to combat depression symptoms and stabilize your mood.
  • Anti-anxiety medication: These medications, which work to soothe any feelings of anxiety, can improve sleep and calm any high-stress feelings. However, they’re typically only used for short periods of time instead of long-term treatment.

Because there are so many different types of medications, it can take time, as well as a bit of trial and error, to find the right option for bipolar disorder. As symptoms change and you experience different episodes, feelings, and moods, you may need to adjust your medication. Everyone reacts to medication differently, so make sure to talk with your doctor if medication isn’t working as an effective treatment option.

Psychotherapy

One of the most helpful forms of treatment for bipolar disorder is psychotherapy. The Mayo Clinic reports that psychotherapy, along with different types of therapy used in combination, is vital in managing bipolar disorder and the ups and downs this illness brings.

According to Psycom, psychotherapy teaches individuals effective coping strategies, which teaches them how to manage symptoms and cope with whatever bipolar disorder throws at them. Psychotherapy can include individual therapy, group therapy, family counseling, or one-on-one counseling. No matter how you seek out psychotherapy, it can help eliminate or change negative thinking patterns, improve communication, and reduce stress overall.

Those who utilize psychotherapy as part of their treatment plan for bipolar disorder can see significant changes. Psychotherapy can help restore calmness in your interactions and help you build better relationships; it can also teach you how to better solve problems, care for your mental health, and deal with your feelings, whatever they may be.

The Mayo Clinic notes that the following types of psychotherapy are commonly used for treating and managing bipolar disorder:

  • Interpersonal and social rhythm therapy, which helps you build a better daily routine and stabilize daily rhythms for better overall mood management.
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy, which helps you identify negative behaviors and swap them out for healthy ones. This therapy can also help identify what triggers your bipolar episodes, which will help you better manage your health.
  • Family therapy, which can improve communication among family members and help educate your loved ones about your condition, treatment plans, and other important information.

Supervised Treatment Programs

Another treatment option for those diagnosed with bipolar disorder is to participate in a treatment program led by mental health experts and medical professionals. These treatment programs can offer a variety of different services and treatment or symptom management options. Additionally, if you’ve been struggling to manage your bipolar disorder, supervised treatment programs can be the answer you need.

You can choose between outpatient and inpatient treatment programs. According to Psycom, these treatment programs include:

  • Outpatient treatment consists of treatment programs completed during the day. You’ll attend individual and group therapy, work with one professional who manages your case, receive medical support, and become educated on how to manage everything from medication to symptoms. Outpatient treatment is woven into your normal life, and you’ll simply go attend the program on a schedule.
  • Inpatient treatment takes place at a hospital or long-term care facility. This type of treatment program is typically for those who are unstable or experiencing psychotic thoughts and behaviors. Inpatient treatment includes medical treatment and care, as well as outpatient support so you can reduce your hospital stays and gain control of your symptoms.

No matter which type of treatment program you choose, these programs are meant to offer more hands-on care for each individual in the program. You’ll have a support system and be able to work closely with professionals who can help you find – and fine tune – the right management options and solutions for your unique mental health.

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