How is bipolar treated?

Bipolar disorder is frequently treated with medication and psychotherapy. The most common medications include:

  • Mood stabilizers with lithium metal in the form of a pill are very effective in managing mood swings.

  • Carbamazepine (Tegretol) is used to treat mania and bipolar depression. It helps prevent the extreme highs and lows that are common among bipolar patients.

  • Lamotrigine (Lamictal) is used for the maintenance treatment of patients with bipolar disorder. It helps delay bouts of mood swing, depression, and mania. It is most recommended for patients who experience extreme lows.

  • Valproate (Depakote) valproate is an antiseizure drug that helps manage mood swings. It works faster than lithium and is used for 'off label' prevention of lows and highs.

  • Antipsychotics such as quetiapine, asenapine, risperidone, and olanzapine are used to treat hypomanic episodes.

  • Benzodiazepines such as alprazolam, lorazepam, and diazepam act as mild tranquilizers and are used for the short-term symptoms of hypomania such as agitation and insomnia.

  • Antidepressants such as seroquel and fluoxetine are used to manage depression.

Patients may undergo psychotherapy with a social worker, therapist, or psychologist. The therapy can help the patient cope with the mood swings, leading to a reduced need for medical care and improved wellbeing.

Psychotherapy can help patients recognize the warning signs and prevent a relapse before it starts. Some common treatment methods include family-focused therapy, dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), and cognitive behavior therapy (CBT).

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