Bipolar Disorder

What is bipolar disorder?

Everyone has ups and downs in their mood, but bipolar disorder is a condition that causes major mood shifts – from episodes of remarkably high energy (manic) to extreme lows (depression). Bipolar disorder can interfere with day to day living. It is a serious medical condition that can affect your thoughts, feelings and physical health.

Symptoms

Bipolar disorder may involve alternating manic and depressive episodes. You may have some or all of the following symptoms, and experience them to different degrees:

Manic Episode:
  • Feeling unusually optimistic, euphoric or invincible
  • Having extreme increase in energy and being more active than usual
  • Decreased need for sleep
  • Racing thoughts
  • Doing risky or dangerous things
Depressive Episode:
  • Frequently feeling very sad, “empty” or worthless
  • Losing interest in work, family or the things you normally enjoy
  • Eating and sleeping less or more than usual
  • Having little or no energy
  • Having trouble remembering things or making decisions

Treatment

There are many ways to treat bipolar disorder. Use the information below as a guide to help you understand your treatment options. Always speak with your doctor to determine the best treatment for you.

Psychological Counseling
Counseling or talk therapy can be an effective way to treat bipolar disorder. It involves regular visits with a behavioral health professional who will help you learn to cope with stress, understand and manage your emotions and improve your relationships. It is important to feel comfortable and safe with your behavioral health professional, and you may need to talk with a few to find one who feels right.

Bipolar Disorder Medication
Bipolar medications can be an effective tool in helping to treat bipolar disorder. They work by helping to balance chemicals in the brain, which can help you feel more like yourself again.

Tips about medication for bipolar disorder
  • Keep taking your medication as prescribed. Most side effects are minor and temporary. Discuss any side effects with your doctor so you can decide together if the treatment is right for you. Follow up regularly with your doctor to make sure the medication is working correctly for you.
  • Medication can take some time to work. You may not feel better for a few weeks, and it is important to give them time.1
  • Medications are most effective when taken at the same time each day.2 Try setting an alarm, using a pill box or taking your medication with regular activities to help make it a part of your daily routine.
  • If you’re taking a bipolar medication, talk to your doctor about getting a simple blood sugar test once a year to help monitor your health.

1 Mental Health Medications. National Alliance on Mental Illness.
2 General Medication Guidelines. The Cleveland Clinic Foundation. (2014)

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