Bipolar Disorder Treatment: Find Out How You Can Help Control Your Mood Swings

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  • Most of the treatment options available for bipolar disorder are aimed to help patients take control of their manic and depressive episodes, enabling them to live a happy and fruitful life
  • Since bipolar disorder is a lifelong condition, it requires ongoing treatment. Make sure that you consistently follow the treatment plan that’s prescribed to you, and consult your doctor before making any changes to it

Despite major medical breakthroughs that have led to a better understanding of bipolar disorder, it still remains an incurable illness due to lack of permanent treatment. Don’t lose hope, though, because there are many ways to reduce the incidence and severity of this lifelong condition.

Most of the treatment options available for bipolar disorder are aimed to help patients take control of their manic and depressive episodes, enabling them to live a happy and fruitful life. The treatment plan varies for every sufferer, so make sure that you seek professional help.

Conventional Bipolar Disorder Medications May Be Unsafe and Ineffective

Most conventional physicians consider pharmaceutical drugs as the key to treating bipolar disorder. There are three main classes of medication usually prescribed for bipolar patients, and these are:

Mood stabilizers: These medicines are used to treat full manic and depressive episodes. The most common mood stabilizer prescribed to bipolar patients is lithium, which is considered a “gold standard” for treating this mental disorder. However, research shows that lithium is more effective in regulating mania than depression,1 and it only works on one-third of patients.

Other mood stabilizers that may be prescribed to you include valproic acid, lamotrigine and carbamazepine — all of which are also known as anticonvulsants that may cause unwanted side effects, including dizziness, upset stomach and tiredness.2,3

Antipsychotics: Antipsychotic drugs are commonly used as a short-term treatment option for delusions and hallucinations, which usually occur during acute episodes of depression or mania. However, some doctors may also recommend this for long-term use to reduce the incidence of mood swings.

The most common side effects associated with antipsychotic medicines include significant weight gain and high cholesterol levels, which may predispose you to diabetes, heart diseases and stroke. It may also cause blurry vision, dry mouth, drowsiness and muscle spasms.4

Antidepressants: Used to regulate the symptoms of depressive episodes, antidepressants are some of the most commonly prescribed medications for patients with bipolar disorder. In fact, more than 1 in 8 Americans are found to be dependent on this type of drug.

However, antidepressants are controversial because of their questionable efficiency and safety. Numerous scientific studies have shown that these drugs can trigger manic or hypomanic episodes in bipolar patients, and may also cause or worsen rapid mood cycling. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has also confirmed that antidepressants increase the risk of suicidal thoughts and behaviors in children and adolescents with mental health problems.5

Consider Switching to Safe and Natural Alternatives for Bipolar Disorder

Pharmaceutical medicines with questionable efficacy and potential health risks are not the only means of managing bipolar disorder. You can turn to natural remedies if you’re looking for a safe and effective way to control your mood swings. Here are some of the safer alternatives that you can try:

Krill oil

Krill oil is rich in omega-3 fats, such as eicosapentanoic acid (EPA) and docosahexanoic acid (DHA).

These healthy fats are found to be helpful in alleviating the symptoms of bipolar disorder by boosting your mood and improving neurological and cognitive function.6

Rhodiola rosea

Rhodiola rosea is a traditional herb that can help reduce stress levels, increase cognitive ability and fight mild to moderate depression, making it an ideal remedy for alleviating the symptoms of bipolar disorder.7

S-adenosylmethionine (SAM-e)

SAM-e is a naturally occurring compound that affects the breakdown of brain chemicals, including serotonin, melatonin and dopamine.

Studies suggest that it may help fight bipolar disorder by increasing the serotonin levels in the brain.8

5-Hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP)

5-HTP is a chemical by-product of tryptophan, which may help increase the synthesis of serotonin in the brain, therefore reducing the symptoms of bipolar disorder.9

Choline

Studies have shown that choline, a water-soluble vitamin, may help alleviate the symptoms of a manic episode in patients with rapid cycling bipolar disorder.10

St. John’s wort

St. John’s wort contains natural antidepressants, which help prevent or delay the reuptake of dopamine, serotonin and norepinephrine — this makes it useful for treating mild to moderate depression.11

Folate

A deficiency in folate, also known as vitamin B9, has been linked to bipolar disorder by several studies.

This vitamin is present in several foods, including broccoli, avocado, spinach and asparagus.

You may also get it from a B-vitamin supplement, but make sure that it contains natural folate rather than synthetic folic acid.

Zinc

Zinc deficiency is linked to several mood disorders, including bipolar depression.

Studies show that maintaining an adequate level of this mineral in the body may help keep depressive episodes at bay.

Vitamin D

According to statistics, a large number of bipolar patients are vitamin D deficient, prompting researchers to believe that low levels of this vitamin may influence the development of bipolar disorder.

Optimizing vitamin D levels through sun exposure may help improve the symptoms of this mental health problem.

You may also take vitamin D supplements if you can’t get enough sun exposure.


Before you decide to incorporate any of the aforementioned natural remedies into your daily routine, make sure that you consult your doctor first.

Psychotherapy Is a Vital Part of Bipolar Disorder Treatment

Psychotherapy is basically a form of treatment that involves discussions with a mental health professional in an individual, family or group setting. This treatment method aims to help patients gain a better understanding of bipolar disorder, relieve distress and determine ways to cope with their condition. Here are several types of psychotherapy that you can try:12,13

Psychoeducation: This method can help you and your family understand the effects of bipolar disorder, recognize symptoms, determine treatment plans and deal with other issues that may arise because of your condition.

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT): This form of therapy is aimed to improve mood and reduce stress by identifying your negative thoughts and behaviors and replacing them with positive ones.

Interpersonal and social rhythm therapy (IPSRT): In this type of psychotherapy, you’ll establish a consistent schedule for your activities, mealtimes and sleep. A consistent daily routine may help you manage your moods more easily.

Family-focused therapy (FFT): This form of therapy focuses on family support and communication to help you cope with your mood swings and prevent bipolar disorder from affecting your relationship with your loved ones.

Consistency Is the Key to Managing Bipolar Disorder

Since bipolar disorder is a lifelong condition, it requires ongoing treatment. This means that you shouldn’t skip therapy sessions or stop taking your prescribed medications or supplements just because you feel like your mood is back to normal, since doing so may cause your mood swings to recur. With that in mind, make sure that you consistently follow the treatment plan that’s prescribed to you, and consult your doctor before making any changes to it.

MORE ABOUT BIPOLAR DISORDER

Bipolar Disorder: An Introduction

What Is Bipolar Disorder?

Bipolar Disorder in Children

Bipolar Disorder Symptoms

Bipolar Disorder Causes

Bipolar Disorder Types

Bipolar Disorder Test

Bipolar Disorder Treatment

Bipolar Disorder Prevention

Living with Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar Disorder Diet

Bipolar Disorder FAQ

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