A range of methods are used to treat people with bipolar. There is no cure for the condition, so the best results are often achieved through the combination of several different approaches.
Treatment for bipolar will typically include:
- medication to prevent episodes of mania, hypomania and depression
- medication to treat the main symptoms of depression and mania
- counselling to help understand the condition
- recognising the events that may trigger an episode
-recognising the signs of imminent episode.
The three main types of medication used to treat bipolar disorder are lithium carbonate, anti-convulsant medicines and anti-psychotic medicines.
Lithium carbonate is the most common bipolar drug in the UK, and is prescribed to reduce the episodes of mania, hypomania and depression. The drug is usually prescribed for at least six months, and a precise dosage must be followed otherwise side effects can occur.
Anti-convulsant medicines can also be used to treat episodes of mania. The most widely used forms of this medicine are valproate, carbamazepine, and lamotrigine. You doctor will advise you which is best for you.
And finally, anti-psychotic medicines are predominantly used to treat bipolar patients with severe symptoms. Common forms of this medicine include olanzapine, quetiapine, and risperidone. Side effects such as blurred vision, dry mouth and weight gain are possible.
Depression in bipolar disorder can be treated in the same way to standard depression, namely through the use of anti-depressant medication. Common anti-depressants prescribed include tricyclic anti-depressants (TCAs), serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), and monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs).
Medication is not suitable in all cases of bipolar disorder. Children under twelve should not be prescribed any bipolar medication. Children over the age of twelve should usually only be given lithium carbonate. And finally, considerable care must be taken when prescribing bipolar medication to pregnant women. Several of the medicines favoured can have serious side effects for both the mother and her growing baby.
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