Bipolar Disorder Treatment
1 AnswerUnless safety dictates otherwise, bipolar disorder medications should be introduced one at a time, adjusted carefully to optimize their effect, and given enough time to work prior to adding other medications. The reason for this is simple. If the physician is introducing multiple drugs quickly, he can't tell which of them is working or which of them is causing any specific side effect.
3 AnswersInternational Bipolar Foundation answeredPeople with bipolar disorder can lead healthy and productive lives when the illness is effectively treated. Without treatment, however, the natural course of bipolar disorder tends to worsen. Over time a person may suffer more frequent (more rapid-cycling) and more severe manic and depressive episodes than those experienced when the illness first appeared. But in most cases, proper treatment can help reduce the frequency and severity of episodes and can help people with bipolar disorder maintain good quality of life.
1 AnswerTo take your bipolar medications as prescribed and trust that they'll work, you must know the medications you're taking and their possible side effects so you can distinguish medication side effects from other medical problems you may have and from symptoms of the illness itself.
In addition to asking your healthcare provider, you can do your own research on your medications. One good source of information is the online version of the Physicians' Desktop Reference (PDR) (also found in print at your local library). The PDR is based on information provided by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Simply typing in the name of your medication will get you other names, side effects, actions, indications, how the medicine is supplied, special warnings, and possible food and drug interactions. It's easier to search by brand name than the generic name of the medication. There's also a picture of the medication. For example, when searching for lithium, the PDR shows Eskalith (one of the trade names for this chemical) and lets us know that it's available in pill and capsule form.
Another resource is the Consumer's Guide to Psychiatric Drugs (Preston, O'Neal, and Talaga 2009), or A Concise Guide to Medical Treatment for Bipolar Disorder in Adults and Adolescents (a Kindle eBook), which describes medical treatments for bipolar disorder in detail.
1 AnswerWhat I advise consumers and family members to do is to use a "drug interaction" computer program any time a new bipolar disorder medication is added, whether it is another psychiatric medication, an over the counter medication, or an antibiotic. There are many such programs online. If computers are not available, discuss all medicines, prescribed and over the counter, with your doctor and pharmacist.
1 AnswerDr. John Preston, PsyD , Psychology, answeredThe goal of psychoeducation in the treatment of bipolar disorder is to educate people living with bipolar illness to become better at symptom management and increase awareness of the process of their own illness. There are also groups for loved ones who want to learn how to support family members or friends who have bipolar disorder. When conducted in groups, psychoeducation provides support through the sharing of experiences with people who are going through similar struggles. Most psychoeducation programs include information on treatment adherence, early identification of symptoms, and the development of daily routines. Research is still under way on the impact of psychoeducation on bipolar disorder symptoms.
Support from family and friends is a crucial factor in recovery, and family psychoeducation groups are run by the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) and the Depression and Bipolar Disorder Alliance (DBSA), where families can learn about the disorder and find help to better support their loved ones' wellness.
1 AnswerDr. John Preston, PsyD , Psychology, answeredIt pays to be careful when you begin to explore alternative treatments. Just because a practice is "all-natural" doesn't mean it's the right treatment for bipolar disorder. For example, practices such as intense massage or stimulating yoga are something your partner should avoid when manic. Esoteric and unproven practices such as astrology or the Tarot can be very confusing for your partner, especially if psychotic symptoms are present. Your goal is to become an observant student of complementary treatments.
Talk with complementary health care practitioners and ask them if they have experience treating bipolar disorder. It's also important that you understand that herbal treatments are not to be taken lightly. If you have questions about herbal treatments and their possible effects, seek the advice and counsel of a licensed naturopath. It's also essential that you make sure any herbs tried do not interact with your partner's medications. This is especially true concerning the popular herbal product Saint-John's-wort, as it has been found to have significant and, at times, dangerous drug-to-drug interactions. Before your partner tries anything new, it's always a good idea to talk with a pharmacist about drug interactions. Don't let these warnings discourage you; just be careful and thorough in what you try. Your goal is to explore what is available, maybe try it yourself, and then discuss the alternatives with your partner.
Find out more about this book:Loving Someone with Bipolar Disorder: Understanding and Helping Your Partner (The New Harbinger Loving Someone Series)
1 AnswerSome questions you may want to ask your doctor when discussing bipolar medication with your mental health provider are as follows:
1. Why am I taking this medication rather than any of the other medications that could be prescribed for this condition?
2. What are some of the side effects I will likely experience, and is there anything I can do to alleviate or prevent some of them from occurring?
3. Are there any possible interactions among the medications that I'm already taking? Is there any way to alleviate or prevent these interactions? Would substituting another medication alleviate or eliminate these interactions?
4. Are there any nutritional supplements, dietary considerations, or behavioral changes that could reduce my dependence on a particular medication?
5. Are there any foods or activities I should avoid while taking these medications?
6. Please give me complete medical information on all the medications you're prescribing for me (if this was not already done or you no longer have that information).
1 AnswerDonna Hill Howes, RN , Family Medicine, answeredFor mania with bipolar I disorder, the most effective treatments include prescribed medications, such as mood stabilizers and antipsychotic medications. Some alternative treatments may help treat mania with bipolar disorder, but there is not much research to support those claims. Most of the scientific studies on alternative medicine therapies focus on treating major depression.
1 AnswerOne reason to discuss your bipolar medications with your healthcare provider is that you may have begun new behaviors -- such as quitting smoking, beginning an exercise plan, or practicing stress reduction techniques -- that impact the necessary dosage of your medication. For example, regular exercise may reduce dependence on medications for diabetes, heart conditions, anxiety, depression, or mania. Eating foods rich in omega-3s or taking omega-3 supplements may improve mood in some people and therefore reduce the need for mood stabilizers.
Given this new information, your provider may want to adjust your dosage.
1 AnswerDr. Charles J. Sophy, MD , Adolescent Medicine, answered
Should you wish to pursue a more natural approach to treatment there are various options that should be explored. Because Bipolar disorder generally requires conventional drug treatment, caution should be exercised when combining the two as there are certain natural remedies for Bipolar disorder which may be incompatible with the psychiatric drugs.
- Natural remedies for bipolar disorder should feature calming herbs which are generally safe to use along with psychiatric drugs for Bipolar disorder include Passiflora incarnata and Lavender.
- Biochemic Tissue Salts such as Natrium sulphate, Kalium phosphate and Natrium phosphate can also be used as natural remedies for bipolar disorder since they have a calming and restorative effect on the nervous system and help to balance mood and prevent mood swings.
- Homeopathic remedies such as Tarentula and Hyoscyamus can also be very helpful and may safely be used together with psychiatric medication without adverse effect.
Consult a doctor, homeopath or naturopath for advice, especially when other chronic medications are also in use.