Bipolar disorder is generally treated with medications called mood stabilizers. If a person is having an acute episode of mania they may need hospitalization to prevent them from hurting themselves or others around them. If a person with mania is having psychotic thoughts or delusions, they will likely be treated with antipsychotic medication as well. Sometimes injectable medication is needed to control extreme behavior.
Treatment is focused first on the relief of current manic or depressive symptoms but later on will also work to prevent these symptoms from recurring (called maintenance therapy).
Since bipolar disorder has such profound effects on a person's behavior, it is important for families to understand the disorder and the causes of their loved one's behavior. Because of the cyclic nature of bipolar disorder, patients are very likely to feel that they do not need their medication after an acute episode has resolved so education about the risk of recurrence is extremely important for not only the person themselves but also their family and friends who can help them by reinforcing the need for medication and also in recognizing early symptoms of another episode.
Another treatment option that is more rarely used is electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), which may be considered in severe cases where there is a poor response to medications and psychotherapy. ECT triggers a seizure (a sudden burst of electrical activity in the brain) which helps restore the balance of chemicals in the brain. Despite its somewhat negative reputation, it can provide rapid relief of symptoms with minimal side effects in carefully selected patients. Patients who undergo this procedure are sedated and carefully monitored, ensuring that minimal to no pain is felt and no lasting damage results.
Bipolar disorder is a lifelong illness and it is important that treatment and support be continued to prevent recurrence. With ongoing care, people with this condition can lead normal and productive lives.
Medications such as olanzapine (Zyprexa), risperidone (Risperdal), and quetiapine (Seroquel) are effective in treating manic symptoms. Other mood stabilizing medications like lithium, carbamazepine, and lamotrigine may also be administered to treat acute manic episodes but they take a longer time to become effective.
Antidepressant medications are given to treat depressive episodes, most commonly SSRI's such as fluoxetine (Prozac), sertraline (Zoloft), paroxetine (Paxil), citalopram (Celexa) and others. While medication is the most important treatment to relieve the symptoms of bipolar disorder, psychotherapy and/or counseling is also very useful to provide support and guidance to patients and their families. It can also help patients to become aware of their own negative behaviors and thought patterns so they can be modified, allowing patients to better cope with their illness.
This simple questionnaire is designed to help you determine if you have symptoms of bipolar / manic depression disorder and could benefit from professional help.