Understanding Bipolar Disorder Treatment From Therapy To Medications
When left untreated, bipolar disorder has the potential to wreak havoc on your emotional and physical well-being. But the right bipolar disorder treatments can completely change your life.
Bipolar disorder is a mental health condition that is characterized by intense fluctuations in a persons mood, energy, and activity levels, affecting their judgment, ability to think clearly, relationships, and daily life in generaland it affects nearly 3% of people in the U.S., according to the National Institute of Mental Health .
If you think you have bipolar disorder, realize that taking the steps to get diagnosed is really courageous. While acknowledging that you may have a mental health condition can be overwhelming, getting on the road to treatment is crucial for your mind and body.
As with any health condition, there isnt one magic remedy to ease the symptoms of bipolar disorder. Bipolar disorder treatment depends on several factors, like the type of bipolar disorder you have, the severity of your symptoms, whether or not you have another mood disorder, your personal health history, and more. In general, experts recommend a combination of psychotherapy and medication to help stabilize a persons mood. Heres what you need to know about the range of bipolar disorder treatments, according to doctors who specialize in helping people with the complex condition.
Know Your Triggers And Early Warning Signs
Its important to recognize the warning signs of an oncoming manic or depressive episode. Make a list of early symptoms that preceded your previous mood episodes. Also try to identify the triggers, or outside influences, that have led to mania or depression in the past. Common triggers include:
- arguments with your loved ones
- problems at school or work
- seasonal changes
|Common red flags for relapse|
|Warning signs of depression|
|Warning signs of mania or hypomania|
Knowing your early warning signs and triggers wont do you much good if you arent keeping close tabs on how youre feeling. By checking in with yourself through regular mood monitoring, you can be sure that red flags dont get lost in the shuffle of your busy, daily life.
Keep Meds Your Priority
Your medication is already an integral part of your treatment. There are some small ways to make your medication regimen even better, such as:
- taking meds as directed, without skipping doses or discontinuing use
- sticking with the same mental health professionals as much as possible for consistency
- communicating candidly with your healthcare team about how youre feeling
- scheduling and keeping regular appointments to help track progress, even when youre feeling OK
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Bipolar Disorder Without Meds
The first episodes of bipolar disorder often happen in teens and young adults. This can be a confusing and scary time, but with help you can live a happy fulfilling life. Staying on top of treatment for bipolar disorder can help you keep your life on track while feeling good. You can help yourself cope with bipolar disorder by keeping your stress low, living a healthy lifestyle, and getting support from family and professionals.
Eric Buck specializes in helping bipolar sufferers and their families weather the transition to life with a bipolar diagnosis and provides therapy and lifestyle help to treat bipolar disorder without medication.
Learning To Recognise Triggers
If you have bipolar disorder, you can learn to recognise the warning signs of an approaching episode of mania or depression.
A community mental health worker, such as a psychiatric nurse, may be able to help you identify your early signs of relapse from your history.
This will not prevent the episode occurring, but it’ll allow you to get help in time.
This may mean making some changes to your treatment, perhaps by adding an antidepressant or antipsychotic medicine to the mood-stabilising medication you’re already taking.
Your GP or specialist can advise you on this.
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Complementary Bipolar Treatments: A Few Words Of Caution
“The reality is that there is not a lot of data on complementary therapies for bipolar disorder,” Muskin says. “That doesn’t mean these products shouldn’t be used, but when patients try to find out about them, they shouldn’t expect to be able to go to like The New England Journal of Medicine and download a lot of articles.”
Muskin recommends ConsumerLab as a reputable site where people can go to research complementary therapies. “You can find out whether or not the product you’re buying really contains the product you think it does, as well as what it’s indicated for and whether it has contaminants,” he says. The National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements also provides an extensive online database of dietary supplements that includes detailed product and manufacturer information.
Most of these therapies are safe, and there is limited evidence of negative interactions with prescription medications. Regardless, patients and their family members should actively research these products and discuss options with a psychiatrist before taking them, especially because complementary therapies do not undergo the same strict review process as pharmaceutical medications.
Additional Reporting by Madeline Vann, MPH.
If You Notice You’re Starting To Become A Little Manic Or Hypomanic
Limit tasks and responsibility. Avoid stressors.
Reduce stimuli. This means put yourself in a quiet space, try to rest. Avoid parties, crowds, busy, stimulating or noisy places.
Ask a loved one to hold your debit card and help you monitor your finances.
Reach out to your therapist or provider.
Avoid going on dates or dating apps until you are in a better headspace.
Abstain from caffeine or stimulants.
Stick to your schedule. Eat at the same time, shower at the same time, etc.
Wear blue light glasses every day throughout the episode.
From 6pm to 8am every day, put yourself on bedrest in a dark room. This will rapidly reduce symptoms of mania/hypomania over a few days.
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Managing Bipolar Ii Or Bipolar I Without Medication
In short, in almost all of the above cases, the evidence is only preliminary and only available for adjunctive to traditional, medication treatment. While it is understandable that some people may want to manage bipolar disorder without medication, its just typically not possible.
APA ReferenceTracy, N. . Can You Manage Bipolar Disorder Without Medication?, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2021, December 21 from https://www.healthyplace.com/self-help/bipolar-disorder/can-you-manage-bipolar-disorder-without-medication
Buddhist Spiritualitys Link To Mindfulness
2,400 years ago, Chinese and Eastern Indian Buddhists used tai chi, chanting, yoga and meditation to attain awareness, practicing acceptance of what cannot be changed.
Buddhism hit Japan in at least 552 AD, although Chinese sources say the spread of the practice was centuries earlier. There are many schools of Buddhism in Japan, the best-known being Zen.
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Develop A Wellness Toolbox
If you spot any warning signs of mania or depression, its important to act swiftly. In such times, its helpful to have a wellness toolbox to draw from. A wellness toolbox consists of coping skills and activities you can do to maintain a stable mood or to get better when youre feeling off.
The coping techniques that work best will be unique to your situation, symptoms, and preferences. It takes experimentation and time to find a winning strategy. However, many people with bipolar disorder have found the following tools to be helpful in reducing symptoms and maintaining wellness:
- Talk to a supportive person.
- Get a full eight hours of sleep.
- Cut back on your activities.
- Attend a support group.
- Call your doctor or therapist.
- Do something fun or creative, or write in your journal.
- Take time for yourself to relax and unwind.
- Increase your exposure to light.
- Ask for extra help from loved ones.
- Cut back on sugar, alcohol, and caffeine.
- Increase or decrease the stimulation in your environment.
Options For Managing Bipolar Depression Without Medication
Mood stabilizers are the primary treatment for bipolar disorder but even with them, and certainly without them, bipolar depression can be hard to manage. However, there are options that act as antidepressants that are not pharmacological in nature.
According to Jim Phelps MD, a noted bipolar specialist, these include:
- Bipolar-specific psychotherapy many psychotherapies have been shown to be useful in bipolar disorder treatment. These include:
- Prodrome detection therapy seeing the signs of a bipolar mood before it is full-blown
- Psychoeducation becoming educated about bipolar disorder
- Cognitive therapy involves multiple areas of therapy including building a support team and coping with depression
- Interpersonal and social rhythm therapy involves improving personal interactions and creating a routine to help with bipolar disorder
- Family-focused therapy involves multiple types of therapy including psychoeducation and diagnosis acceptance. This therapy also gets the family involved with the person with bipolar disorder.
- N-acetylcysteine an over-the-counter amino acid that may work to treat bipolar depression but likely is subject to tolerance, like most medications.
- Thyroid hormone getting ones thyroid hormone in an optimal range for bipolar disorder can reduce symptoms. While this does require testing and a prescription, the medication is not psychopharmacological in nature.
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Medication For Bipolar Disorder
In general, bipolar disorder is treated with medication, according to the Cleveland Clinic. This can involve some trial and error, and it can take weeks to months for a medication to fully take effect. Right now, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration has approved medications to treat Bipolar I and II. That means theres not enough research on medications that can best treat cyclothymic disorder or unspecified bipolar disorder. However, your doctor may still prescribe medication to help you manage your specific symptoms.
Whoever you see for treatment may prescribe one or more of a few types of medication, depending on what youre personally experiencing. In general, bipolar disorder medications fall into the following categories:
Closely Observe Your Mood And Symptoms
When youre learning how to deal with bipolar, make sure you are paying close attention to how you feel, your moods and whether youre experiencing any symptoms. If you start noticing even minor changes, you may be able to work with your care providers to prevent those challenges from coming much bigger problems.
A journal can be a good way to keep up with your symptoms and spot red flags early on. Another option is to keep a mood chart handy. This is an easy way to reference how you are feeling and see subtle shifts that may need attention.
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What Bipolar Disorder Treatments Are Commonly Used
If you or someone you love might have bipolar disorder symptoms, the first step is to see a doctor, licensed therapist, or psychiatrist if you have access to one, as they can help diagnose the condition and pinpoint the best treatment plan for you. Many primary care physicians can help diagnose and prescribe medication for bipolar disorder, but they may also refer you to a psychiatrist who specializes in mood disorders.
Since bipolar disorder is a lifelong condition, treatments focus on helping you maintain a balanced mood state. Thankfully, there are plenty of effective ways to manage bipolar disorder to help you feel more in control of your life, Po Wang, M.D., director of the Stanford Bipolar Disorders Clinic, tells SELF. Generally, your doctor will discuss treatment options with you and explain why a recommended medication or therapy is considered best for the type of bipolar you have, your current symptoms, and your overall lifestyle. How we treat the patient depends on what the patient needs, Dr. Wang says, emphasizing that treating bipolar disorder requires a collaborative approach between you and your doctor, so the process may take some experimentation until you find the best fit.
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Natural Bipolar Treatments: Treatment Of Bipolar Without Medication
Bipolar disorder is a serious mental illness characterized by episodes of extremely elevated and depressed emotion. Bipolar disorder is a brain illness commonly treated with psychotropic medication, like mood stabilizers and antipsychotic medications .
Many people with bipolar disorder will always require medication management of their illness. However, there are natural bipolar treatments that make use of techniques outside of pharmacological drugs. These natural bipolar treatments can be used with or without bipolar medication, but no changes should be made to any treatment plan without first consulting a doctor.
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Make Notes Of Your Symptoms
It doesnt have to be anything copious or formal. Tracking your symptoms may help you and your mental health team develop successful treatments and management plans.
Keeping a journal or using an app as a mood log may allow you to see patterns over long periods of time.
You may start to notice specific stressors before mood shifts. You may realize that changes in habit or diet coincide with mood episodes. Once patterns become known, you can find more targeted ways to manage bipolar disorder.
How To Prevent + Manage Bipolar Episodes Without Medications
Bipolar disorder is tough to manage. Especially when you feel that you out of control of your moods, your body and sometimes your thoughts.
Bipolar disorder is chronic.
It is lifelong, and it requires management to have a good quality of life.
No, I don’t mean just medication management. Can meds help? Sure.
But there are things YOU can do to help prevent episodes of mania, hypomania or depression.
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A Need To Maintain A Healthy Diet:
We all know that some people have trend to eat too much or avoid eating when they are depressed or stressed. It has the negative effects for your health and worsens the problem. The healthy diet comprises variety of foods which are high in iron, minerals, vitamins and protein. Some studies have been conducted to find out that consuming fatty fish may help to decrease stress and depression. It also improves the brain function and control the mood swings. It is recommended to eat albacore tuna, mackerel, salmon and herring by American Heart Association. In contrast, trans fats and saturated fats will destroy the brain function. Therefore, asking how to treat bipolar disorder, you are advised to eat a healthy diet.
Heres What We Can Control
We need to take charge of what we can and practice mindfulness techniques to keep our stress levels down while waiting for new advances in medicine.
Researchers have been scrambling for years to develop effective treatments to counter metabolic side effects of second generation or atypical antipsychotics. Stateside, final studies are garnering media attention and once final stages are complete will be sent in for FDA review.
Challenges appear when Im making other plans, requiring me to be fully present so I can improvise my way out. I find it hard to be creative when Im paralyzed with fear.
My chronic pain recently prompted me into a guided meditation. Tuning in, I realized the problem was my stinking thinking. Catching and correcting this is helping me greatly.
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Tip : Keep Stress To A Minimum
Stress can trigger episodes of mania and depression in people with bipolar disorder, so keeping it under control is extremely important. Know your limits, both at home and at work or school. Dont take on more than you can handle and take time to yourself if youre feeling overwhelmed.
Learn how to relax.Relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, yoga, and guided imagery can be very effective at reducing stress and keeping you on an even keel. A daily relaxation practice can improve your mood and keep depression at bay.
Make leisure time a priority. Do things for no other reason than that it feels good to do them. Go to a funny movie, take a walk on the beach, listen to music, read a good book, or talk to a friend. Doing things just because they are fun is no indulgence. Play is an emotional and mental health necessity.
Appeal to your senses.Stay calm and energized by appealing to your senses: sight, sound, touch, smell, and taste. Listen to music that lifts your mood, place flowers where you will see and smell them, massage your hands and feet, or sip a warm drink.
Get Moderate Exercise Nothing Fancy
Physical activity is part of a handful of lifestyle tweaks research says can benefit you if you live with bipolar disorder.
Exercise can elevate mood through the release of feel-good hormones in the brain, known as endorphins. It can help manage weight and combat feelings of depression.
While many people living with bipolar disorder may benefit from exercise, a 2015 review found it may not be a solution for everyone.
In some cases, exercise might make manic episodes worse. You may feel compelled to overexert yourself or feel as though your symptoms are ramping up more quickly than normal.
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Stress Hormones: A Vicious Cycle
Fear and anxiety activate the flight or fight reaction, producing the troublesome stress hormone cortisol. Cortisol is inexorably linked to high blood sugar, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and weight gain, particularly around the waist.
Disproportional weight gain in the midsection is a well-known side effect of mood stabilizing atypical antipsychotics. Called visceral fat, it wraps around and pressures the heart, liver, kidneys and pancreas, compromising function.
Not only that, belly fat produces even more cortisol! This stress hormone is now known to inhibit the production of feel good neurotransmitters like serotonin, negatively impacting our moods.