Treatment Options for Bipolar Disorder
Bipolar disorder is a mental health condition woefully misunderstood by the general public. For many, the term “bipolar” is a shorthand to describe someone experiencing mood swings or is used to describe those who may express themselves in an emotionally intensive manner. As such, the term has become an insult for some people, which needs to be corrected. After all, while mood swings can be a symptom of bipolar, the condition is deeper and more prescriptive than this.
After all, there’s a big difference between the clinical diagnosis of bipolar disorder and emotional instability or upset, the latter of which is normal and healthy to express from time to time. In this post, we aim to outline exactly what bipolar disorder is, how it’s best treated, and how you should move forward if you suspect you have it, or have recently been diagnosed with the condition.
What is Bipolar Disorder?
Bipolar disorder is a manic-depressive mental health condition known to influence mood and behavior. It is often characterized by two sides of the emotional spectrum, including excitable mania and depressive tendencies. Up to 4.4% of Americans will experience bipolar symptoms at some point in their life.
While this is sometimes spoken of as “mood swings,” the truth is that the bipolar spectrum affects more than just mood but also the energy, focus, and cognitive functioning of those who have the condition. Manic episodes often include lowered impulses, a sense of irritability, high-energy functioning, and an inflated sense of self. This soon concedes to depressive tendencies, such as low mood, a feeling of low self-worth, and even suicidal ideation.
This can sometimes be referred to as “crashing.” Manic episodes typically last between three to six months, while depressive episodes can last six to twelve months. As you can see, this experience is more extensive than simple “mood swings.”
Needless to say, bipolar disorder can be a confusing and exhausting condition, and some manage it throughout their entire lifetime. Moreover, the up-and-down nature of bipolar disorder means a strong support system is often needed.
If this condition is properly managed, it shouldn’t limit a happy, fulfilled life. It’s important to take this effort seriously. However, without treatment, it’s easy for those with the condition to spiral into bad habits.
How is Bipolar Disorder Treated?
As with any mental health condition, bipolar disorder is best treated with a multi-pronged approach that takes into account all lifestyle needs. With the right support, you can cleanly integrate these self-care and prescribed caregiving methods into your life.
Note that bipolar disorder rarely gets better without any direct support. Always speak to a mental health professional if you suspect you have the condition and work on a treatment plan after you’re diagnosed.
Good medication management
Generally, mood-stabilizing medications, such as lithium, are used to help treat manic or hypomanic episodes. Your doctor may also prescribe medications such as anticonvulsants or antipsychotics.
While bipolar disorder includes pronounced depressive episodes, antidepressants, such as SSRIs, are not necessarily considered the sole prescription without mood stabilizers. A good medication plan worked out with your practitioner may take a little time to solidify, but once you have the correct dosages, they can vastly improve your quality of life and help take the edge off your symptoms or soothe them completely.
Medication can be of tremendous help, but it’s not a magic bullet that solves any and all problems. Positive lifestyle factors also help, including:
Education and coping strategies
Bipolar can be a tricky condition to understand thanks to its wide array of symptoms, but once you become more familiar with the condition and learn the right coping mechanisms, you can more easily sustain a positive and healthy lifestyle despite it.
Learning your warning signs of onset mania and depression is essential. Racing thoughts, impulsivity, or notable changes in your energy can help you determine a shift in mood. Joining a support group, keeping in close contact with your mental health professional, and working through talking therapy techniques can all make a profound difference in your day to day.
Those with bipolar disorder can sometimes feel ashamed of their manic or depressive periods. It’s important to remember that this is a condition, and shifting your mindset from “I am a problem” to “I have a problem that can be managed” is instrumental in sustaining your well-being.
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
CBT is a form of psychotherapy that can help you better identify and react to the thought patterns you hold. You can develop good coping strategies through learning this technique.
For example, coping strategies, like relaxation techniques, challenging thoughts you hold to be true, engaging in activities that give you a sense of accomplishment even during low moods, and mindfulness meditation can all help you take the edge off bipolar symptoms.
When you have a greater sense of control of your symptoms and can understand them for what they are, they become more manageable. CBT is effective for a range of conditions but can be especially effective for a condition that influences your behaviors and your thoughts as an extension of that.
Familial involvement and support
It’s important to remember that while all of the techniques and measures listed above can be of profound assistance, you’re unlikely to experience 100% perfect days forever. Sometimes, you may struggle with the condition or have bad days, and this is when support from family and friends is paramount.
A good social support structure that understands your condition and remains open for communication can help you through those rough patches. It’s important to do your best to help them in this way, and to also find the right outlet for your questions or frustrations if needed. Sometimes, therapeutic support groups can also fill this need.
Contact Jackson House Today
Jackson House offers a voluntary residential program that curates exceptional evidence-based treatments for a range of conditions. We sustain, educate, and assist those with mental health conditions in order to unlock their full quality of life, and to provide them the best foundation for understanding and managing their diagnosis.
Please contact us today to speak to our friendly team at Jackson House. We’d love to provide you with the resources to manage your mental health issues.
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