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Treatments for Bipolar disorder

Treatments for Bipolar disorder:

The overall treatment goal for people living with bipolar disorder is to minimize mood swings and other symptoms so that they can live functional and productive lives. There is no cure for bipolar disorder, and treatment generally needs to be life-long to most effectively control symptoms. The most effective treatment plans employ a multifaceted approach that includes medications and psychotherapy.

Psychotherapy is commonly known as "talk therapy". In psychotherapy, a psychotherapist builds a relationship with a client, establishing trust and helping the client better cope with bipolar disorder through a variety of forms of psychotherapy, such as family therapy and behavior therapy. These techniques can help people to recognize and work through the issues associated with bipolar disorder and may help to teach more effective ways of dealing with stress that can trigger symptoms and of thinking and behaving.

Psychotherapy might be combined with medication. A combination of prescribed medications might be prescribed to stabilize the extremes of mood that occur with bipolar disorder. Medications include mood stabilizers, such as lithium. Antidepressants and antipsychotics may also be prescribed.

Ongoing outpatient psychiatric and medical care is important to help monitor the effectiveness of treatment and to assess for side effects and safe levels of medications. In some cases, symptoms of bipolar disorder may be so serious that a person is unable to safely care for basic needs and/or become suicidal or a danger to himself or herself. Treatment of this severity of bipolar disorder may require inpatient care. In some cases a person may need to be legally hospitalized against their will.

Treatment List for Bipolar disorder

The list of treatments mentioned in various sources for Bipolar disorder includes the following list. Always seek professional medical advice about any treatment or change in treatment plans.

Alternative Treatments for Bipolar disorder

Alternative treatments or home remedies that have been listed as possibly helpful for Bipolar disorder may include:

  • Coffea cruda homeopathic remedy
  • Sufficient sleep
  • Set up a regular routine or daily rhythm (e.g. for eating, working and sleeping)
  • Self-awareness
  • Pacing therapy
  • more treatments »

Bipolar disorder: Is the Diagnosis Correct?

The first step in getting correct treatment is to get a correct diagnosis. Differential diagnosis list for Bipolar disorder may include:

Hidden causes of Bipolar disorder may be incorrectly diagnosed:

  • People with an immediate family member with bipolar disorder are at higher risk
  • Genetic factors
  • Environmental influence
  • Childhood precursors
  • more causes...»

Bipolar disorder: Marketplace Products, Discounts & Offers

Products, offers and promotion categories available for Bipolar disorder:

Curable Types of Bipolar disorder

Possibly curable types of Bipolar disorder may include:

Bipolar disorder: Research Doctors & Specialists

Research all specialists including ratings, affiliations, and sanctions.

Drugs and Medications used to treat Bipolar disorder:

Note:You must always seek professional medical advice about any prescription drug, OTC drug, medication, treatment or change in treatment plans.

Some of the different medications used in the treatment of Bipolar disorder include:

  • Lisinopril
  • Carbolity
  • Cibalith-S
  • Duralith
  • Eskalith
  • Eskalith CR
  • Liskonium
  • Lithane
  • Lithizine
  • Lithobid
  • Lithonate
  • Lithotabs
  • Olanzapine and Fluoxetine
  • Symbyax
  • Quetiapine
  • Seroquel
  • Tigabine
  • Gabitril
  • Ziprasidone
  • Geodon

Unlabeled Drugs and Medications to treat Bipolar disorder:

Unlabelled alternative drug treatments for Bipolar disorder include:

  • Gabapentin - used as part of a combination ultreatment
  • Neurontin - used as part of a combination ultreatment
  • Selegiline
  • Apo-Selegiline
  • Carbex
  • Dom-Selegiline
  • Eldepryl
  • Med-Selegiline
  • Novo-Selegiline
  • PMS-Selegiline
  • Alti-Clonazepam
  • Clonapam
  • Gen-Clonazepam
  • Nu-Clonazepam
  • PMS-Clonazepam
  • Rho-Clonazepam
  • Kenoket
  • Fazaclo
  • Gen-Clozapine
  • Rhoxal-Clozapine
  • Clopsine
  • Leponex
  • Apo-Gabapentin
  • Novo-Gabapentin
  • Nu-Gabapentin
  • PMS-Gabapentin
  • Levetiracetam
  • Keppra
  • Topiramate
  • Topamax

Hospital statistics for Bipolar disorder:

These medical statistics relate to hospitals, hospitalization and Bipolar disorder:

  • bipolar affective disorders accounted for 206,045 patient days in hospitals in Australia 2001-02 (AIHW Hospital Morbidity Database 2001-02, Australia’s Health 2004, AIHW)
  • bipolar affective disorders resulted in 15,943 hospitalisations in Australia 2001-02 (AIHW Hospital Morbidity Database 2001-02, Australia’s Health 2004, AIHW)
  • 0.11% (14,566) of hospital consultant episodes were for bipolar affetive disorder in England 2002-03 (Hospital Episode Statistics, Department of Health, England, 2002-03)
  • 90% of hospital consultant episodes for bipolar affetive disorder required hospital admission in England 2002-03 (Hospital Episode Statistics, Department of Health, England, 2002-03)
  • 39% of hospital consultant episodes for bipolar affetive disorder were for men in England 2002-03 (Hospital Episode Statistics, Department of Health, England, 2002-03)
  • more hospital information...»

Hospitals & Medical Clinics: Bipolar disorder

Research quality ratings and patient incidents/safety measures for hospitals and medical facilities in specialties related to Bipolar disorder:

Hospital & Clinic quality ratings »

Choosing the Best Treatment Hospital: More general information, not necessarily in relation to Bipolar disorder, on hospital and medical facility performance and surgical care quality:

Medical news summaries about treatments for Bipolar disorder:

The following medical news items are relevant to treatment of Bipolar disorder:

Discussion of treatments for Bipolar disorder:

Going to Extremes Bipolar Disorder: NIMH (Excerpt)

A variety of medications are used to treat bipolar disorder. 5 But even with optimal medication treatment, many people with the illness have some residual symptoms. Certain types of psychotherapy or psychosocial interventions, in combination with medication, often can provide additional benefit. These include cognitive-behavioral therapy, interpersonal and social rhythm therapy, family therapy, and psychoeducation. 6 ,7

Lithium has long been used as a first-line treatment for bipolar disorder. Approved for the treatment of acute mania in 1970 by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), lithium has been an effective mood-stabilizing medication for many people with bipolar disorder.

Anticonvulsant medications, particularly valproate and carbamazepine, have been used as alternatives to lithium in many cases. Valproate was FDA approved for the treatment of acute mania in 1995. Newer anticonvulsant medications, including lamotrigine, gabapentin, and topiramate, are being studied to determine their efficacy as mood stabilizers in bipolar disorder. Some research suggests that different combinations of lithium and anticonvulsants may be helpful.

According to studies conducted in Finland in patients with epilepsy, valproate may increase testosterone levels in teenage girls and produce polycystic ovary syndrome in women who began taking the medication before age 20. 8 Increased testosterone can lead to polycystic ovary syndrome with irregular or absent menses, obesity, and abnormal growth of hair. Therefore, young female patients taking valproate should be monitored carefully by a physician.

During a depressive episode, people with bipolar disorder commonly require additional treatment with antidepressant medication. Typically, lithium or anticonvulsant mood stabilizers are prescribed along with an antidepressant to protect against a switch into mania or rapid cycling. The comparative efficacy of various antidepressants in bipolar disorder is currently being studied.

In some cases, the newer, atypical antipsychotic drugs such as clozapine or olanzapine may help relieve severe or refractory symptoms of bipolar disorder and prevent recurrences of mania. More research is needed to establish the safety and efficacy of atypical antipsychotics as long-term treatments for this disorder. (Source: excerpt from Going to Extremes Bipolar Disorder: NIMH)

Bipolar Disorder: NIMH (Excerpt)

Most people with bipolar disorder—even those with the most severe forms—can achieve substantial stabilization of their mood swings and related symptoms with proper treatment.11 ,12 ,13 Because bipolar disorder is a recurrent illness, long-term preventive treatment is strongly recommended and almost always indicated. A strategy that combines medication and psychosocial treatment is optimal for managing the disorder over time.

In most cases, bipolar disorder is much better controlled if treatment is continuous than if it is on and off. But even when there are no breaks in treatment, mood changes can occur and should be reported immediately to your doctor. The doctor may be able to prevent a full-blown episode by making adjustments to the treatment plan. Working closely with the doctor and communicating openly about treatment concerns and options can make a difference in treatment effectiveness.

In addition, keeping a chart of daily mood symptoms, treatments, sleep patterns, and life events may help people with bipolar disorder and their families to better understand the illness. This chart also can help the doctor track and treat the illness most effectively.

Medications

Medications for bipolar disorder are prescribed by psychiatrists—medical doctors (M.D.) with expertise in the diagnosis and treatment of mental disorders. While primary care physicians who do not specialize in psychiatry also may prescribe these medications, it is recommended that people with bipolar disorder see a psychiatrist for treatment.

Medications known as "mood stabilizers" usually are prescribed to help control bipolar disorder.11 Several different types of mood stabilizers are available. In general, people with bipolar disorder continue treatment with mood stabilizers for extended periods of time (years). Other medications are added when necessary, typically for shorter periods, to treat episodes of mania or depression that break through despite the mood stabilizer.

  • Lithium, the first mood-stabilizing medication approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for treatment of mania, is often very effective in controlling mania and preventing the recurrence of both manic and depressive episodes.
  • Anticonvulsant medications, such as valproate (Depakote®) or carbamazepine (Tegretol®), also can have mood-stabilizing effects and may be especially useful for difficult-to-treat bipolar episodes. Valproate was FDA-approved in 1995 for treatment of mania.
  • Newer anticonvulsant medications, including lamotrigine (Lamictal®), gabapentin (Neurontin®), and topiramate (Topamax®), are being studied to determine how well they work in stabilizing mood cycles.
  • Anticonvulsant medications may be combined with lithium, or with each other, for maximum effect.
  • Children and adolescents with bipolar disorder generally are treated with lithium, but valproate and carbamazepine also are used. Researchers are evaluating the safety and efficacy of these and other psychotropic medications in children and adolescents. There is some evidence that valproate may lead to adverse hormone changes in teenage girls and polycystic ovary syndrome in women who began taking the medication before age 20.14 Therefore, young female patients taking valproate should be monitored carefully by a physician.
  • Women with bipolar disorder who wish to conceive, or who become pregnant, face special challenges due to the possible harmful effects of existing mood stabilizing medications on the developing fetus and the nursing infant.15 Therefore, the benefits and risks of all available treatment options should be discussed with a clinician skilled in this area. New treatments with reduced risks during pregnancy and lactation are under study.
(Source: excerpt from Bipolar Disorder: NIMH)

Bipolar Disorder: NIMH (Excerpt)

Research has shown that people with bipolar disorder are at risk of switching into mania or hypomania, or of developing rapid cycling, during treatment with antidepressant medication.16 Therefore, "mood-stabilizing" medications generally are required, alone or in combination with antidepressants, to protect people with bipolar disorder from this switch. Lithium and valproate are the most commonly used mood-stabilizing drugs today. However, research studies continue to evaluate the potential mood-stabilizing effects of newer medications. (Source: excerpt from Bipolar Disorder: NIMH)

Bipolar Disorder: NIMH (Excerpt)

Atypical antipsychotic medications, including clozapine (Clozaril®), olanzapine (Zyprexa®), risperidone (Risperdal®), and ziprasidone (Zeldox®), are being studied as possible treatments for bipolar disorder. Evidence suggests clozapine may be helpful as a mood stabilizer for people who do not respond to lithium or anticonvulsants.17   Other research has supported the efficacy of olanzapine for acute mania, an indication that has recently received FDA approval.18   Olanzapine may also help relieve psychotic depression.19

  • If insomnia is a problem, a high-potency benzodiazepine medication such as clonazepam (Klonopin®) or lorazepam (Ativan®) may be helpful to promote better sleep. However, since these medications may be habit-forming, they are best prescribed on a short-term basis. Other types of sedative medications, such as zolpidem (Ambien®), are sometimes used instead.
  • Changes to the treatment plan may be needed at various times during the course of bipolar disorder to manage the illness most effectively. A psychiatrist should guide any changes in type or dose of medication.
  • Be sure to tell the psychiatrist about all other prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, or natural supplements you may be taking. This is important because certain medications and supplements taken together may cause adverse reactions.
  • To reduce the chance of relapse or of developing a new episode, it is important to stick to the treatment plan. Talk to your doctor if you have any concerns about the medications. (Source: excerpt from Bipolar Disorder: NIMH)

    Bipolar Disorder: NIMH (Excerpt)

    As an addition to medication, psychosocial treatments—including certain forms of psychotherapy (or "talk" therapy)—are helpful in providing support, education, and guidance to people with bipolar disorder and their families. Studies have shown that psychosocial interventions can lead to increased mood stability, fewer hospitalizations, and improved functioning in several areas.13 A licensed psychologist, social worker, or counselor typically provides these therapies and often works together with the psychiatrist to monitor a patient's progress. The number, frequency, and type of sessions should be based on the treatment needs of each person.

    Psychosocial interventions commonly used for bipolar disorder are cognitive behavioral therapy, psychoeducation, family therapy, and a newer technique, interpersonal and social rhythm therapy. NIMH researchers are studying how these interventions compare to one another when added to medication treatment for bipolar disorder.

    • Cognitive behavioral therapy helps people with bipolar disorder learn to change inappropriate or negative thought patterns and behaviors associated with the illness.
    • Psychoeducation involves teaching people with bipolar disorder about the illness and its treatment, and how to recognize signs of relapse so that early intervention can be sought before a full-blown illness episode occurs. Psychoeducation also may be helpful for family members.
    • Family therapy uses strategies to reduce the level of distress within the family that may either contribute to or result from the ill person's symptoms.
    • Interpersonal and social rhythm therapy helps people with bipolar disorder both to improve interpersonal relationships and to regularize their daily routines. Regular daily routines and sleep schedules may help protect against manic episodes.
    • As with medication, it is important to follow the treatment plan for any psychosocial intervention to achieve the greatest benefit.
    (Source: excerpt from Bipolar Disorder: NIMH)

    Bipolar Disorder: NIMH (Excerpt)

    In situations where medication, psychosocial treatment, and the combination of these interventions prove ineffective, or work too slowly to relieve severe symptoms such as psychosis or suicidality, electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) may be considered. ECT may also be considered to treat acute episodes when medical conditions, including pregnancy, make the use of medications too risky. ECT is a highly effective treatment for severe depressive, manic, and/or mixed episodes. The possibility of long-lasting memory problems, although a concern in the past, has been significantly reduced with modern ECT techniques. However, the potential benefits and risks of ECT, and of available alternative interventions, should be carefully reviewed and discussed with individuals considering this treatment and, where appropriate, with family or friends.20 (Source: excerpt from Bipolar Disorder: NIMH)

    Bipolar Disorder: NIMH (Excerpt)

    People with bipolar disorder may need help to get help.

    • Often people with bipolar disorder do not realize how impaired they are, or they blame their problems on some cause other than mental illness.
    • A person with bipolar disorder may need strong encouragement from family and friends to seek treatment. Family physicians can play an important role in providing referral to a mental health professional.
    • Sometimes a family member or friend may need to take the person with bipolar disorder for proper mental health evaluation and treatment.
    • A person who is in the midst of a severe episode may need to be hospitalized for his or her own protection and for much-needed treatment. There may be times when the person must be hospitalized against his or her wishes.
    • Ongoing encouragement and support are needed after a person obtains treatment, because it may take a while to find the best treatment plan for each individual.
    • In some cases, individuals with bipolar disorder may agree, when the disorder is under good control, to a preferred course of action in the event of a future manic or depressive relapse.
    • Like other serious illnesses, bipolar disorder is also hard on spouses, family members, friends, and employers.
    • Family members of someone with bipolar disorder often have to cope with the person's serious behavioral problems, such as wild spending sprees during mania or extreme withdrawal from others during depression, and the lasting consequences of these behaviors.
    • Many people with bipolar disorder benefit from joining support groups such as those sponsored by the National Depressive and Manic Depressive Association (NDMDA), the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI), and the National Mental Health Association (NMHA). Families and friends can also benefit from support groups offered by these organizations.
    (Source: excerpt from Bipolar Disorder: NIMH)

    Bipolar Disorder Research at the National Institute of Mental Health: NIMH (Excerpt)

    For years, lithium has been the "gold standard" pharmacological treatment for bipolar disorder. When taken regularly, lithium can effectively control mania and depression in many patients and can reduce the likelihood of episode recurrence. (Source: excerpt from Bipolar Disorder Research at the National Institute of Mental Health: NIMH)

    Bipolar Disorder Research at the National Institute of Mental Health: NIMH (Excerpt)

    Interest in using psychotherapy in combination with medication for bipolar disorder has grown in recent years with the recognition of the continuing high rate of relapse, some of which appears preventable, during pharmacological maintenance treatment. (Source: excerpt from Bipolar Disorder Research at the National Institute of Mental Health: NIMH)

    Depression in Children and Adolescents A Fact Sheet for Physicians: NIMH (Excerpt)

    The essential treatment of bipolar disorder in adults involves the use of appropriate doses of mood stabilizing medications, typically lithium and/or valproate, which are often very effective for controlling mania and preventing recurrences of manic and depressive episodes. Treatment of children and adolescents diagnosed with bipolar disorder is based mainly on experience with adults, since as yet there is very limited data on the safety and efficacy of mood stabilizing medications in youth. Researchers currently are evaluating both pharmacological and psychosocial interventions for bipolar disorder in young people. (Source: excerpt from Depression in Children and Adolescents A Fact Sheet for Physicians: NIMH)

    Depression in Children and Adolescents A Fact Sheet for Physicians: NIMH (Excerpt)

    According to studies conducted in Finland in patients with epilepsy, valproate may increase testosterone levels in teenage girls and produce polycystic ovary syndrome in women who began taking the medication before age 20.39 Increased testosterone can lead to polycystic ovary syndrome with irregular or absent menses, obesity, and abnormal growth of hair. Therefore, young female patients prescribed valproate should be monitored carefully. (Source: excerpt from Depression in Children and Adolescents A Fact Sheet for Physicians: NIMH)

    Depression: NIMH (Excerpt)

    Lithium has for many years been the treatment of choice for bipolar disorder, as it can be effective in smoothing out the mood swings common to this disorder. Its use must be carefully monitored, as the range between an effective dose and a toxic one is small. If a person has preexisting thyroid, kidney, or heart disorders or epilepsy, lithium may not be recommended. Fortunately, other medications have been found to be of benefit in controlling mood swings. Among these are two mood-stabilizing anticonvulsants, carbamazepine (Tegretol®) and valproate (Depakote®). Both of these medications have gained wide acceptance in clinical practice, and valproate has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration for first-line treatment of acute mania. Other anticonvulsants that are being used now include lamotrigine (Lamictal®) and gabapentin (Neurontin®): their role in the treatment hierarchy of bipolar disorder remains under study.

    Most people who have bipolar disorder take more than one medication including, along with lithium and/or an anticonvulsant, a medication for accompanying agitation, anxiety, depression, or insomnia. Finding the best possible combination of these medications is of utmost importance to the patient and requires close monitoring by the physician. (Source: excerpt from Depression: NIMH)

    Medications: NIMH (Excerpt)

    The medication used most often to treat bipolar disorder is lithium. Lithium evens out mood swings in both directions--from mania to depression, and depression to mania--so it is used not just for manic attacks or flare-ups of the illness but also as an ongoing maintenance treatment for bipolar disorder.

    Although lithium will reduce severe manic symptoms in about 5 to 14 days, it may be weeks to several months before the condition is fully controlled. Antipsychotic medications are sometimes used in the first several days of treatment to control manic symptoms until the lithium begins to take effect. Antidepressants may also be added to lithium during the depressive phase of bipolar disorder. If given in the absence of lithium or another mood stabilizer, antidepressants may provoke a switch into mania in people with bipolar disorder. (Source: excerpt from Medications: NIMH)

    Medications: NIMH (Excerpt)

    The anticonvulsant valproic acid (Depakote, divalproex sodium) is the main alternative therapy for bipolar disorder. It is as effective in non-rapid-cycling bipolar disorder as lithium and appears to be superior to lithium in rapid-cycling bipolar disorder.2 Although valproic acid can cause gastrointestinal side effects, the incidence is low. Other adverse effects occasionally reported are headache, double vision, dizziness, anxiety, or confusion. Because in some cases valproic acid has caused liver dysfunction, liver function tests should be performed before therapy and at frequent intervals thereafter, particularly during the first 6 months of therapy. (Source: excerpt from Medications: NIMH)

    Medications: NIMH (Excerpt)

    Other anticonvulsants used for bipolar disorder include carbamazepine (Tegretol), lamotrigine (Lamictal), gabapentin (Neurontin), and topiramate (Topamax). The evidence for anticonvulsant effectiveness is stronger for acute mania than for long-term maintenance of bipolar disorder. Some studies suggest particular efficacy of lamotrigine in bipolar depression. At present, the lack of formal FDA approval of anticonvulsants other than valproic acid for bipolar disorder may limit insurance coverage for these medications.

    Most people who have bipolar disorder take more than one medication. Along with the mood stabilizer--lithium and/or an anticonvulsant--they may take a medication for accompanying agitation, anxiety, insomnia, or depression. It is important to continue taking the mood stabilizer when taking an antidepressant because research has shown that treatment with an antidepressant alone increases the risk that the patient will switch to mania or hypomania, or develop rapid cycling.5 Sometimes, when a bipolar patient is not responsive to other medications, an atypical antipsychotic medication is prescribed. Finding the best possible medication, or combination of medications, is of utmost importance to the patient and requires close monitoring by a doctor and strict adherence to the recommended treatment regimen. (Source: excerpt from Medications: NIMH)

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