Do You Have Bipolar ? Treatment Options Overview

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While there is no cure for those suffering from bipolar disorder, the good news is that there are a variety of treatments available. Untreated, bouts of mania and depression may endure for several months or even a year, with the average sufferer experiencing five to six episodes within a twenty year period. With treatment, however, those diagnosed with the disorder can expect to see an improvement in symptoms within three months.

Treatment for bipolar disorder often involves a combination of available approaches. These include mood stabiliser medicines, drugs specifically prescribed for mania or depression, and self-treatment options which focus on educating those with bipolar disorder to recognise the triggers and signs which signal the approach of a symptomatic episode.

Prescription Drugs

Medicinal treatment usually includes a prescription for lithium carbonate. This drug is part of a long-term treatment plan which alleviates episodes of depression, mania, and hypomania for a minimum six-month period. The drug should never be stopped suddenly and always taken in the exact dosage prescribed. Some people experience side effects from taking this drug and regular blood tests help ensure the proper levels of lithium are present. There are contraindications with some anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs, and it is important to make your doctor aware of any other medicines currently being taken.

Another class of medicines often prescribed for bipolar disorder as well as epilepsy are anticonvulsant drugs such as carbamazepine, lamotrigine, and valproate which are used to treat manic episodes. These are also considered mood stabilisers and used in long-term treatment plans often in conjunction with lithium.

Valproate causes problems in pregnant women and should only be prescribed to women of child-bearing age who employ a reliable method of contraception. Valproate also requires a blood count before prescription and six months after this medicinal regime has begun. Lamotrigine usually starts out as a low dose medication which is gradually increased over time. There may be contraindications to contraceptive pills, so your doctor should be made aware if you are using this method of birth control. The same applies to carbamezepine, which also includes regular blood tests to check liver and kidney functions.

The third class of drugs used to treat bipolar disorder are antipsychotic medicines, which are sedatives proven to be effective in addressing the symptoms of a manic of hypomanic episode. However, these drugs are usually only prescribed by a bipolar expert to those with the most severe symptoms due to their numerous side effects. Antipsychotics require regular health checks in conjunction with their prescription, especially for those who have also been diagnosed with diabetes.

The most important thing to remember is to take the medicine prescribed by your doctor and continue regular doses.

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