It is normal to experience mood changes throughout the day. In high mood, one may feel happy and energized while in low mood one may feel sad and inactive. To a normal person, the mood changes do not get out of control; one is able to have a balance between the high and low moods.
Unlike normal people, people with Bipolar disorder experience extreme and sustaining mood changes that interfere with their lives (Smith, Segal and Segal par 3). The extreme mood swings experienced by Bipolar disorder patients lead to severe psychological distress that makes it impossible for the patients to lead normal lives. Also referred to as Manic Depression or Bipolar Affective Disorder, Bipolar disorder is categorized as one of the serious mood disorders.
The mood disorder is characterized by extremely high (manic or hypomanic) and unusual depression states that last for days or weeks. Bipolar disorder can lead to very severe effects if not treated. Mood swings resulting from the disorder can affect school or job performance, break relationships or even lead to suicide. Pharmacotherapy and psychological therapy are the treatment options that are found to be most effective with Bipolar disorder patients.
As aforementioned, Bipolar disorder has great effects on normal functioning of the patients. The sad thing about Bipolar disorder is that it tends to be a life time problem and getting an effective treatment is a challenge. However, early diagnosis and treatment of the disorder lead to positive results. Use of medication is the common option for treating Bipolar disorder (Smith, Segal and Segal par 14).
Medications referred to as ‘mood stabilizers’ are used to counter mood swings and reduce the symptoms of the disorder. Use of mood stabilizers for on a long-term basis is known to have positive results on Bipolar disorder patients. However, since patients respond differently to mood stabilizers, different medication should be tried in order to come up with the best combination for a particular patient (Sachs, et al. 9).
For effective treatment, mood stabilizers are used with combination of antidepressants and anticonvulsants. The mood stabilizer that is found to be most effective with most Bipolar disorder patients is Lithium (Sachs, et al. 9). The mood stabilizer is used together with anticonvulsants such as Carbamazepine, Valproic acid and Lamotrigine. The effective combination of medications has to be used for a long time in order to prevent reoccurrence of the mood changes.
Many Bipolar disorder patients however tend to default medication. It is therefore advisable for Bipolar disorder patients to continue with their medications even when they feel as if they are cured. Although medications provide the most immediate intervention to Bipolar disorder, they do not completely cure the disorder but manage it. In addition to medications, a Bipolar disorder patient has to adopt a lifestyle that supports wellness.
Though medications are the most obvious treatment option for Bipolar disorder, better results are attained when the patients receive psychotherapy alongside medications. Therapy helps Bipolar disorder patients to manage various issues resulting from the disorder, including affected self-esteem, work and relationship. Psychotherapy can also be of great help if a Bipolar disorder patient is struggling with other issues such as substance abuse.
Considering that treatment for Bipolar disorder can continue for a long time, psychotherapy helps to keep the patient in medications and therefore increase chance for success. Cognitive-behavioral therapy, Family-focused therapy and Interpersonal and social rhythm therapy are the common psychotherapies with Bipolar disorder (Smith, Segal and Segal par 16). Cognitive-behavioral therapy is particularly helpful in helping a Bipolar disorder patient to manage symptoms.
This type of therapy targets the thinking patterns of a patient and can help Bipolar disorder patients to avoid triggering the symptoms through their thinking patterns. Interpersonal therapy is very important to a Bipolar disorder patient. The psychological therapy helps Bipolar disorder patients to manage their relationships, which could be highly affected by the mood disorder. Interpersonal therapy also helps the patients to manage stress and therefore reduce occurrence of the symptoms.
Considering that Bipolar disorder affect biological rhythms, social rhythm therapy can be of great help to Bipolar disorder patients. In addition to the above mentioned therapies, family focused therapy can be incorporated in treatment of Bipolar disorder. Bipolar disorder affects not only the patient but also other family members living with the patient. Family focused therapy helps in addressing the effects of the disorder to the family and therefore helps to create a strong support system for the patient.
Bipolar disorder is among the severe mood disorders. Apart from affecting the normal functioning of the patients, Bipolar disorder can have severe effects on a patient’s relationships or even lead to suicide. For better results, a Bipolar disorder patient should seek early treatment.
Medications and psychological therapy are the main treatment options for Bipolar disorder. Mood stabilizers such as lithium are effective in treating the disorder. The mood stabilizers are used together with anticonvulsants and antidepressants in order to achieve the better result. In addition to medications, psychotherapy is used to achieve the best result. Therapies such cognitive therapy, family-focused therapy and interpersonal therapy help in managing symptoms and helping the patients to live well in spite of their suffering.
Sachs, Gary, David Printz, David Kahn, Daniel Carpenter and John Docherty. The Expert Consensus Guideline Series Medication Treatment of Bipolar Disorder. Apr. 2000. 22 Nov. 2010. http://www.psychguides.com/Bipolar_2000.pdf
Smith, Melinda, Jeanne Segal and Robert Segal. Treatment for Bipolar Disorder: Getting Help and Choosing Treatments. Nov. 2010. 22 Nov. 2010. http://helpguide.org/mental/bipolar_disorder_diagnosis_treatment.htm