Bipolar disorder is an affective disorder characterized by fluctuations in mood. Depression and mania are the two extremes when it comes to bipolar disorder. Depression can make a person feel and act hopelessly, while someone in a manic state may act recklessly and feel invincible.
Whatever the extreme, life quality can be severely diminished by bipolar disorder. Anyone who is suspected to suffer from bipolar disorder should seek prompt psychiatric evaluation.
Because of the unstable nature of bipolar disorder a hands-on approach is vital. Treatment options include (but are not limited to) medication, lifestyle and diet alterations, supplements and psychotherapy.
Medication is a very important treatment option that should be prescribed by a psychiatrist.
Some popular medications for bipolar disorder include the following:
Valproic Acid, Carbamazepine, Lamotrigine, Oxcarbazepine and Topiramate.
Anticonvulsants seem to have a calming effect on the brain although the exact mechanism of action of these drugs is still unknown.
Bupropion, Citalopram, Fluoxetine, Moclobemide, Tranylcypromine and Venlafaxine.
Antidepressants are prescribed for bipolar depression. It is widely argued that antidepressants may be more harmful than good when it comes to bipolar disorder. Many health professionals fear that a manic episode may be triggered by anti-depressant use. This remains controversial.
Risperidone, Olanzapine, Quetiapine, Aripiprazole, Ziprasidone and Clozapine.
These drugs were meant for the treatment of schizophrenia and the psychosis associated with it. It has come to light that antipsychotics are also beneficial in the treatment of mania.
Lithium and some anticonvulsants are considered as mood stabilizing.
Lifestyle and diet
For people with bipolar disorder it is essential to live a well-balanced life. Regularity and stability should be on the foreground.
Keeping to a routine may improve general functionality and overall quality of life. Examples of such routines include: Strict sleeping patterns, regular meal times etc. Studies have shown that lifestyle irregularities may trigger affective episodes and that these episodes may even be prevented when a stable life rhythm is followed.
It has been documented that patients who were diagnosed with bipolar disorder seem to have improper eating habits. A healthy diet and exercise program may prove to be beneficial for brain health. Studies have proven that exercise along with occasional decreases in energy (food) intake reduces shortfalls in brain function and degeneration of brain cells.
Even though much research is still needed on the subject, many supplements are starting to show promising results as far as bipolar disorder is concerned. It is argued that certain deficiencies may aggravate the symptoms of bipolar disorder. The main supplements that are being considered for bipolar disorder management are: vitamin B (complex) and folate, vitamin C, lecithin, taurine and omega 3 fatty acids.
Different types of psychological treatments exist for bipolar disorder:
For bipolar depression:
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), interpersonal and social rhythm therapy (IPSRT) and family-focused therapy (FFT).
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), group psycho-education and systematic care.
These psychological treatments have proven to be beneficial in the treatment of bipolar disorder. They greatly aid functionality and overall life quality.
Other treatment therapies
Light therapy and Electroconvulsive therapy.
Remember that bipolar disorder can have a very unstable and unpredictable course. It is essential to have a strict treatment regimen to tame the wildness. Take the bull by the horns!
- Cambridge advanced learner’s dictionary. 3rd Cambridge: Cambridge University Press; 2008. p. 181.
- Oliwenstein L. Taming Bipolar disorder. New York: Penguin Group; 2004.
- Pinho M, Sehmbi M, Cudney LE, Kauer-Sant’anna M, Magalhaes PV, Reinares M. The association between biological rhythms, depression, and functioning in bipolar disorder: a large multi-center study. Acta Psychiatr Scand. May 2015.
- Frank E, Hlastala S, Ritenour A, Houck P, Tu XM, Monk TH et al. Inducing lifestyle regularity in recovering bipolar disorder patients: results from the maintenance therapies in bipolar disorder protocol. Biol Psychiatry. June 1997; vol. 41(12): 1165-1173.
- Kilbourne AM, Rofey DL, McCarthy JF, Post EP, Welsh D, Blow FC. Nutrition and exercise behavior among patients with bipolar disorder. Bipolar Disorders. August 2007; vol. 9(5): 443-452.
- Mattson MP. Energy intake and exercise as determinants of brain health and vulnerability to injury and disease. Cell Metabolism. December 2012; vol. 16(6): 706-722.
- Lakhan SE, Vieira KF. Nutritional therapies for mental disorders. Nutrition Journal. January 2008; vol. 7(2).
- Stoll AL, Severus WE, Freeman MP, Rueter S, Zboyan HA, Diamond E et al. Omega 3 fatty acids in bipolar disorder. Arch Gen Psychiatry. May 1999; vol. 56(5): 407-412.
- Jongsma AE, Bruce TJ. Evidence-based treatment planning for bipolar disorder: DVD Companion workbook. New Jersey: John Wiley and Sons, Inc.; 2012. p. 15-31.
- Light therapy can help with Bipolar Disorder
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