The National Institute of Mental Health, or NIMH, defines bipolar disorder this way: “Bipolar disorder, also known as manic-depressive illness, is a brain disorder that causes unusual shifts in mood, energy, activity levels, and the ability to carry out day-to-day tasks.”
If you suspect that you or a loved one has bipolar disorder, know that help is available.
There are two major forms of help. One is pharmacological and the other is psychotherapeutic. Sometimes the two are combined, and are carried out under the supervision of a physician, therapist, or counselor.
Pharmacological means that the disorder is treated with medication. These medications control mood swings that are manifested as mania and depression. In this approach, moods are stabilized and anxieties are alleviated.
The five areas of medications are anti-anxiety medications and sedatives, anti-depressants, anti-psychotics, mood stabilizers, and calcium channel blockers.
Sedatives are used to help patients get the rest they need, because bipolar disorder often causes one to be restless or have insomnia. Sedatives also help to calm the person and decrease stress.
Antidepressants focus on the neurotransmitters. These medications alter brain chemistry, regulating it to a more normal level.
Antipsychotics are also known as major tranquilizers. These are used when a bipolar patient suffers a psychotic break, or, in other words, loses touch with reality. It’s important to control psychotic breaks, as they mean a patient may have uncontrollable behavior, which can present a danger to themselves or someone else. If medication can’t control the breaks, hospitalization is often required, until the patient is stabilized and deemed not a threat to anyone, including himself. In most if not all cases, people who experience a psychotic break are unaware that it’s happening.
A mood stabilizer is a typical medication used to treat bipolar disorder. It helps a person to have a stable mood and helps decrease mood swings. Some, like lithium, are approved by the FDA. Some patients taking medication feel so good that they start believing they no longer need the medication, and stop taking it. This abrupt interruption can actually allow another psychotic break or erratic behavior to occur. It’s dangerous for a person with a bipolar disorder to suddenly cease medication. The starting or stopping of any medication prescribed for bipolar disorder should be discussed between patient and doctor, and medically supervised.
Calcium channel blockers may be the choice of treatment in mild forms of bipolar disorder that don’t require intense treatment. Calcium blockers lower blood pressure and slow down the heart.
Know that, as with all medications, side effects can accompany them.
Psychotherapy is the second method of treatment. It involves talking to a therapist about the disorder and life issues surrounding it. Behavior modification is often addressed, which includes changing how you think and feel about circumstances as they arise. Group therapy is sometimes offered, and support groups are available.
It’s common to find both modes of treatment taken together. The combination of medication and therapy often manages bipolar disorders quite effectively.
For more information and to get the help you need now, contact ONEtx for a free assessment. Give us a call today, 888-573-1110