November 30, 2023

What is the Best Treatment for Someone with Bipolar Disorder

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Dr. Priya Chaudhri
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You may be struggling with extreme mood swings, but just aren’t sure where to turn for help. When you are first learning about bipolar disorder and the available treatment options, it can feel a bit overwhelming. So, inquiring about, “What is the best treatment for someone with bipolar disorder?” you will find the answers below.

Understanding Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder isn’t always easy to grasp. This mood disorder is a complex condition that occurs in various forms, each having its own set of features. But what unites all types of bipolar disorder are the characteristic mood shifts.

The key to getting the help you need is to understand that bipolar is not the same thing as being irritable and moody. Bipolar disorder is much more disruptive to daily life, work, and relationships than that. With bipolar, the mood swings are extreme, usually unpredictable, and often cause impairment in functioning.

The Challenges of Living with Bipolar Disorder

Coping with bipolar disorder can present numerous difficulties. These might include:

  • Staying employed. Those who struggle with bipolar often find it hard to sustain employment. Meeting work deadlines or completing tasks might be challenging for them due to their mood fluctuations. Also, they tend to have trouble getting along with coworkers due to their frequent mood swings.
  • Relationship problems. Personal relationships are strained due to the person’s unstable mood states. People in relationships with a bipolar partner are challenged by unpredictable moods and drama.
  • Higher suicide risk. Individuals with bipolar disorder face an elevated risk of engaging in self-harm or contemplating suicide. The impulsive nature of bipolar mania makes this a serious concern.
  • Isolation. People with bipolar may find themselves isolated because their mood swings are unpredictable and destabilizing. They would rather stay home alone than risk a scene in public, or even embarrassing a friend or date.
  • Comorbid substance use disorder.  It is not uncommon for someone with bipolar to begin using a substance to help relieve their symptoms. Should the pattern of substance misuse persist, there is a heightened risk of developing a substance use disorder.

Diagnosing Bipolar Disorder

The first step to finding relief from the symptoms of bipolar is to undergo a thorough psych evaluation. The evaluation is multi-pronged and involves these actions:

  • Intake interview, where you meet with a therapist or doctor to describe in detail the mood swings and how they affect your daily life.
  • Assessment tools are questionnaires that you’ll fill out to the best of your ability to help the doctor diagnose you.
  • Mental health history is reviewed to determine if there were past hospitalizations, medications, or treatments provided.
  • Conducting a physical exam and analyzing blood labs can aid in identifying whether there is an underlying medical condition contributing to the mood swings.

Once all of these steps are completed, the doctor assigns a specific diagnosis, choosing one of these four types:

  • Bipolar I. Bipolar I disorder is the most prevalent of the four types of bipolar disorder. Bipolar I is characterized by a greater occurrence of manic episodes, either with or without depressive episodes. The severity of the mania is such that it necessitates hospitalization and typically persists for a week or longer.
  • Bipolar II. Bipolar II disorder is identified by the presence of less intense hypomanic episodes alongside depressive episodes.
  • Cyclothymic disorder. Cyclothymic disorder, also referred to as cyclothymia, involves having mood swings on a long-term basis. The mood shifts that occur between depressive and hypomanic persist for more than two years. There might be intervals of normal mood, but these periods typically endure for less than eight weeks.
  • Unspecified bipolar disorder. Bipolar disorder not otherwise specified is when the manic mood states are present but the symptoms don’t align with the other three types.

Common Comorbid Mental Health Disorders with Bipolar

When considering what is the best treatment for someone with bipolar disorder, it is important to take comorbidities into account. Here are some common disorders that co-occur with bipolar:

  • Substance use disorder. Substance misuse co-occurs with bipolar disorder more than any other mental health challenge. The substance use only complicates the illness and enhances its symptoms.
  • PTSD. Someone with a mood disorder, such as bipolar or depression, is more likely to also develop PTSD after a trauma.
  • Anxiety. Anxiety and bipolar are very common co-occurring disorders.

A dual diagnosis treatment program will address all co-occurring disorders.

When to Know You Need Treatment for Bipolar

Bipolar surfaces in the teen or early adult years. The type of bipolar disorder often dictates the severity of symptoms. Bipolar is a lifelong condition, so recognizing the need for treatment as early as possible helps limit the effects. If you are experiencing symptoms of mania and alternating depression, it is time to seek treatment.

Symptoms of bipolar mania include:

  • Abrupt mood changes.
  • Impaired judgment.
  • Symptoms of psychosis.
  • Abrupt change in thought patterns.
  • Rapid and often incoherent speech.
  • Sudden changes in energy.

Symptoms of bipolar depression include:

  • Experiencing sadness, a sense of worthlessness, or hopelessness.
  • Losing interest in activities once enjoyed.
  • Difficulty focusing or making decisions.
  • Changes in eating habits and weight.
  • Sleep changes.
  • Fatigue.
  • Suicidal thoughts.

Best Treatment for Someone with Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder is receptive to certain types of treatment protocols. The best way to proceed is to meet with a psychiatrist who can conduct a psychological evaluation. This data then allows the doctor to prescribe the medication and psychotherapies to help improve functioning and quality of life.

Best Drug Treatment for Someone with Bipolar Disorder

Discovering the suitable medications to address your bipolar condition might involve some initial trial and error. The doctor may start you on one combination of drugs and then adjust them as needed. Drugs for treating bipolar include:

  • Lithium
  • Anticonvulsants
  • Antipsychotics
  • Anti-anxiety meds
  • Antidepressants.

Best Psychotherapies for the Treatment of Bipolar

Evidence-based therapies have been shown to enhance the clinical results of treatment. For the treatment of bipolar, these are the best therapies:

  • Interpersonal and social rhythm therapy.
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy.
  • Family therapy.
  • Dialectical behavior therapy.
  • Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy.

So, what is the best treatment for someone with bipolar disorder? If you are struggling with the signs of bipolar, hopefully, you now have a clear idea and will seek help.

Elevation Behavioral Health Provides Comprehensive Treatment for Bipolar Disorder

Elevation Behavioral Health delivers comprehensive care for individuals with bipolar disorder through its upscale residential mental health treatment program, which also addresses dual diagnosis. If you are seeking the best treatment for someone with bipolar disorder, reach out to us at (888) 561-0868.

Our team of experts is here to help you.