To manage their symptoms, many people with bipolar disorder take prescription medications. Medications can be invaluable resources for this condition if used in moderation and under the direction of a doctor, but it is not the ultimate solution. Rather, medicine should augment other methods, including talk therapy and positive lifestyle changes.
Find the Right Medications for Your Bipolar Disorder
According to Help Guide, there is no one-size-fits-all prescription medication for bipolar disorder. People take different medications in different amounts to manage their symptoms, because all users respond in different ways to each medication. Figuring out what drug works for you can take time—there may even be some trial and error along the way.
If you use medications for bipolar disorder, then see your doctor regularly to evaluate your symptoms and to decide if adjustments are necessary. Bipolar medications should be kept in a safe place and used only by the prescription holder.
What Medicines Treat Bipolar Disorder?
People with bipolar disorder may receive multiple prescriptions to manage their symptoms, because the condition is characterized by both manic and depressive episodes. According to Mayo Clinic, the following drugs may be prescribed:
- Mood stabilizers to weaken manic and depressive episodes
- Antipsychotics either in addition to or in place of a mood stabilizer
- Antidepressants, which should generally be avoided with bipolar disorder, because they can trigger a manic episode. However, doctors may suggest an antidepressant if they cannot beat depression by other means. Due to the risk of a manic episode, antidepressants are typically prescribed in combination with either a mood stabilizer or an antipsychotic.
- Antidepressant-antipsychotics to address depression and to stabilize mood simultaneously, hence the drug Symbax. This drug combines fluoxetine, an antidepressant, with olanzapine, an antipsychotic, and it is approved by the Food and Drug Administration.
- Anti-anxiety medications (benzodiazepines) to address anxiety and sleeping problems
Bipolar medications are generally safe when used correctly. Mood stabilizers, antipsychotics and antidepressants are slightly addictive, so you may feel withdrawal symptoms if you quit taking any of these drugs after long-term use.
Benzodiazepines and the Risk of Addiction
While most medications for bipolar disorder are not considered addictive, benzodiazepines are, so they are typically prescribed for short-term use. If someone becomes addicted to a benzodiazepine while treating this disorder, then he can recover with integrated treatment, which addresses both mental health issues and addiction at the same time. Overcoming addiction is essential for bipolar people, because substance abuse can make it impossible to cope with mental health problems.
Natural Ways to Regulate Mood
Individuals with bipolar disorder can use methods other than medication to regulate their mood. In fact, users can improve their physical health and emotional wellbeing through the following natural methods:
- A healthy lifestyle, which includes eating right, exercising and getting enough sleep. What you eat, do and how you sleep all affect how you feel about yourself, so healthy choices can strongly manage the symptoms of bipolar disorder.
- Counseling sessions and group therapy meetings, which help people cope with their symptoms better than not, because they offer tools people need to cope with difficulty. Therapy can lead to emotional stability. A social support network. Coping with a mental illness can be difficult, even for individuals who take medication, attend therapy and practice healthy living. During difficult moments, family, friends and other supportive individuals can be especially important.
These methods help people cope with bipolar disorder. While medications are often integral to treating bipolar disorder, positive lifestyle changes should not be overlooked.