Bipolar disorder, also known as manic-depressive illness, is a brain disorder causing unusual shifts in mood, energy, activity levels, and inhibiting the ability to carry out daily tasks. Bipolar disorder symptoms can damage relationships, impede job or school performance, and may even result in suicide.
Those with bipolar disorder experience what are known as “mood episodes” – intense emotional states that occur in distinct periods, and at times, the symptoms may seem like separate problems rather than indicators of a greater problem. Overly joyful or overexcited states are termed manic episodes, extremely sad or hopeless states are called depressive episodes. Times, when symptoms of both situations occur, are termed a mixed state.
Misunderstandings and misconceptions of Bipolar Disorder
The greatest issue surrounding Bipolar Disorder is that it is not easily understood, and the behaviors exhibited are usually labeled with pejorative terms that de-emphasize its existence as a recognized psychological disorder, and place the responsibility for behaviors in the choices made by the individual. Until recently, the extremes of behavior and the violence associated with them often resulted in prosecution and incarceration. As an understanding of the disorder becomes more widespread, different methods of successful treatment are changing the negative perspective.
Treatment with pharmaceuticals
Bipolar disorder can be treated with medications prescribed by people with an M.D. (doctor of medicine), most typically psychiatrists. In some states, certain licensed professionals can prescribe medications. The prescribed medications fall into four groups:
- Mood stabilizing medications, the first choice to treat bipolar disorder, and many, with the exception of lithium, are anticonvulsants which, beyond their treatment for seizures, are for mood control.
- Atypical antipsychotic medications, so called in order to set them apart from earlier, conventional, pharmaceutical treatment, are sometimes used to treat symptoms of bipolar disorder and are often prescribed with other medications.
- Antidepressant medications are used to treat bipolar disorder but are often prescribed in conjunction with mood stabilizers because of the risk anti-depressants pose in increasing the chances of the patient’s switching to mania, hypomania, or developing rapid cycling symptoms.
- Sleep Medications—Normally, those with bipolar disorder who have trouble sleeping usually sleep better after beginning treatment. However, sleeplessness is not alleviated, sedatives or other sleep-inducing medications may be prescribed if sleeplessness does not improve.
Other treatment modalities
In addition to medication, psychotherapy can be an effective treatment for bipolar disorder, providing support, education, and guidance to people with bipolar disorder and their families. Some psychotherapy treatments used to treat bipolar disorder include:
- Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
- Family-focused therapy
- Interpersonal and social rhythm therapy
These therapies are usually provided by a licensed psychologist, social worker, or counselor typically provides these therapies, often working with a psychiatrist to monitor improvement.
In the event that medication or psychotherapy does not work, some success has been achieved with Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT).
Treating Bipolar within an inpatient drug and alcohol rehab center
Treating people with bipolar within an inpatient drug and alcohol rehab center for persons with addiction and/or alcoholism can be highly effective for getting a person stabilized that might have a co-occurring disorder or dual diagnosis. Length of time does play a factor. Most traditional 30 day stays are effective for most but if someone has had a history of relapse with their bipolar and/or addiction long term treatment is preferred.