Bipolar disorder is a mental health condition that can cause extreme shifts in mood, energy, and behavior. The main treatments for bipolar disorder include medications and psychotherapy to manage symptoms, as well as educational and support groups, and mood stabilizers. Antipsychotic medications are sometimes prescribed to treat episodes of mania, and can also be used as long-term mood stabilizers. Quetiapine is also used for long-term bipolar depression. In the 1970s, pioneering lithium and chlorpromazine trials were conducted, followed by a focus on antiepileptics (e.g., valproate and carbamazepine) in the 1980s and 1990s.
A meta-analysis of mixed treatments compared 13 drugs studied in 68 randomized controlled trials (16,073 participants). Results showed that antipsychotic drugs were better than anticonvulsants and lithium in the treatment of manic episodes. Olanzapine, risperidone, and haloperidol had the best profile of currently available agents. The best treatment for bipolar disorders is a combination of medications and psychotherapy tailored to the individual. While bipolar illness can't be cured, a consistent treatment plan can help you lead an active and healthy life.
Lithium is one of the most commonly prescribed and studied drugs to treat bipolar disorder. It will reduce symptoms of mania within two weeks of starting treatment, but it may take weeks or months before manic symptoms are fully controlled. Because of this, healthcare providers often prescribe other medications, such as antipsychotics or antidepressants, to help control symptoms. Therapy is essential to treat bipolar disorder and the problems it has caused in your life. By working with a therapist, you can learn to cope with difficult or uncomfortable feelings, repair your relationships, manage stress, and regulate your mood. The defining sign of bipolar I disorder is a manic episode that lasts at least a week, while people with bipolar II disorder or cyclothymia experience hypomanic episodes.
If you're thinking about going the natural route, it's important to talk to your doctor first as bipolar disorder is a progressive disease and symptoms can seriously worsen if not treated with FDA-approved medications or therapies. If you have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, you and your doctor will work together to find the right medication or combination of medications for your needs. Long-term treatment with antidepressants in bipolar disorder tends to be recommended only when the initial response is clear and there are no current or emerging signs of mania or hypomania. Research shows that antidepressants are not particularly effective in treating bipolar depression. Lithium remains the best-established long-term treatment for bipolar disorder. However, other medications may be prescribed to children if recommended by their doctor. With mixed results on marijuana's role in treating bipolar disorder, additional clinical trials are needed to better clarify its role.
If you have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, you will need to see your health care team regularly throughout your life to make sure your treatment is working well for you. Episodes of depression are treated slightly differently in bipolar disorder since taking antidepressants alone can cause a relapse. Identifying Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder (DMDD) could affect how bipolar disorder is diagnosed in children.