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Effective treatment for bipolar disorder

Updated on May 8, 2012

Bipolar disorder is a condition that causes shifts in an individual's thinking, mood and behavior, lasting for days, weeks or even months. This condition also known as manic depression is in two phases. There is the manic phase which is extreme on one hand and the depression on the other hand which is low.

Scientists have suggested that bipolar disorder may be caused by a number of factors including chemical imbalance within the brain, genetic factors and stress. Symptoms for the high phase includes increased sexual affairs, less sleep and food, unrealistic planning and overspending; while at the low phase a person might experience sadness and crying, excessive eating, disconnection from friends and family, depression, too much sleep and chronic pain.

After diagnosis the next thing is to get bipolar disorder treatment through either drug or non-drug treatment. Medical treatment for bipolar disorder is to reduce and treat the severity of episodes of depression and manic whenever they occur, avoids the cycling from one phase to another, help patients function between episodes and reduce the frequency of episodes.

For drug treatment the doctor might make use of benzodiazepine or antipsychotic drugs to control irritability, sleeplessness and hostility in mania bipolar disorder. But for general treatment the doctor will prescribe lithium, which is the best known drug for long-term bipolar disorder treatment for patients.

The doctor may also prescribe atiseizure drugs like oxcarbazepine (Trileptal), carbamazepine (Tegretol, Carbatrol, Equetro) Valproate (valproic acid), and lamotrigine (Lamictal). These drugs are known to be very effective for the treatment of bipolar disorder. Also drugs like zonisamide (Zonegran), gabapentin (Neurontin), and topiramate (Topamax) are been used or investigated for bipolar disorder treatment.

In addition to antiseizure drugs, atypical antipshycotic drugs like Clozapine (Clozaril), olanzapine (Zyprexa), risperidone (Risperdal), quetiapine (Seroquel), ariprazole (Abilify)and ziprasidone (Geodon) that are used for the treatment of schizophrenia are also used for the treatment of bipolar disorder because of their mood stabilization properties.

Pregnant women with bipolar disorder cannot be treated with drugs because all the drugs can penetrate the placenta into the amniotic-fluid and also enter breast milk. Instead doctors sometimes recommend bipolar disorder and electroconvulsive therapy. This treatment involves sending electric current through the scalp into the brain to relieve bipolar disorder sufferers. It is estimated that the procedure is effective on 75% of patients.

Other patients that doctors recommend electroconvulsive therapy for include people who are not responsive to mood stabilizers and those with extreme form of mania. In children and adolescent doctors mostly use lithium and valproate to reduce side effects.

Bipolar disorder is also treated through psychotherapy. This is often used in combination with medication treatment to increase the patient's response to lithium. Psychotherapy treatment is even more effective with family therapy, where it improves social functioning and family communication.

Education is another way that bipolar disorder is often combated, also in combination with medication. This is usually directed to make the patient change their lifestyle. Education therapy includes understanding the symptoms, reducing stress and exercise. Education is relevant and helpful because it makes you become an expert in your illness.


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    • denise.w.anderson profile image

      Denise W Anderson 5 years ago from Bismarck, North Dakota

      Thanks for the information on the types of medications being used for bipolar disorder. We are in the process of getting a loved one treated, and needed to see some viable options.