Bipolar disorder is a mental illness requiring prolonged treatment. People with this disorder experience extreme emotional highs (mania) and lows (depression.) Numerous advancements in bipolar disorder treatments have been made over the past few decades.
Physicians, however, still do not know exactly what causes the illness. The disorder is now effectively treated through a combination of medication and psychotherapy. Since it is a recurrent illness, lifelong preventive treatment is strongly recommended.
Bipolar disorder medications include mood stabilizers, antidepressants, and antipsychotics. Mood stabilizers can effectively control manic and depressive moods in many patients. Lithium carbonate, Valproic acid, Lamotrigine, Carbamazepine, Oxcarbazepine, and Topiramate are the commonly used mood stabilizers. The majority of mood stabilizers are anticonvulsants, with the exclusion of lithium. Mood stabilizers are sometimes used in combination with one another.
Bipolar disorder is also treated with antidepressant medications. However, they carry a high risk of inducing mania, particularly in patients who are not taking a mood stabilizer. Common antidepressants are monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) such as isocarboxazid (Marplan), tricyclics such as imipramine (Tofranil), and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) such as fluoxetine (Prozac.) Antipsychotic drugs are used in severe cases where mania and depression are strong enough to cause psychosis. The most commonly used antipsychotic drugs are risperidone, quetiapine, and olanzapine. Some of them have mood-stabilizing properties.
Psychotherapy, together with drug treatment, provides many additional benefits. It helps patients resolve their work and relationship problems. The most common psychotherapy interventions attempted are cognitive behavioral therapy, interpersonal therapy, and family-focused therapy.
Proper nutrition also helps control the mood swings associated with bipolar disorder. Research indicates that high doses of nutritional supplements such as glyconutrients cure symptoms of manic depression. Alternative treatments such as acupuncture and orthomolecular therapy are also used in the treatment of bipolar disorder.