Bipolar disorder treatment is a complicated topic, largely because the disorder is still only beginning to be understood in its complexity.
There are several time-tested, effective medical treatments, but unfortunately they are not without downsides.
New research has indicated some possible paths for the future of bipolar depression treatment, although as with any new developments in medicine there is a long process to go through before new treatments become accepted and widespread.
In this article we will look at the different types of bipolar and how they’re diagnosed, how they’re treated with medication, and how diet can play a role in the treatment of bipolar.
We’ll also discuss the issue of treatment-resistant bipolar disorder, natural treatments for bipolar and some of the exciting new research into the disorder and potential treatments.
The Challenging Bipolar Diagnosis
Many people have a very broad view of what ‘bipolar’ is, and the general public understanding of the disorder is riddled with myths and misconceptions.
Let’s first briefly cover how bipolar diagnosis works and the differences between different sub-types of bipolar.
Diagnosis not only determines whether or not someone is suffering from bipolar – it determines the type of bipolar and the severity of symptoms: being experienced.
Bipolar diagnosis a combination of self-assessment and observation of the patient by a trained medical professional, who will assess the patient’s status based on a set of standard criteria.
Bipolar 1 – Full Blown Mania
In bipolar 1, the ‘manic’ episodes or ‘up’ moods are the most dominant, but with bipolar 1 the person still cycles between the poles: mania and depression. However, sometimes the depressive moods occur infrequently or in some cases not at all.
This is the form of bipolar which most people commonly associate with the name. Bipolar 2, by contrast, is considered less ‘severe’ and is easier to confuse with depression.
Bipolar 2 – Less Mania, More Like Depression
In bipolar 2, the depressive states are more dominant and for that reason it can resemble clinical depression quite strongly. The difference, of course, is the occurrence of manic episodes – even if these are few, milder and far between.
In diagnosing any form of bipolar, there is usually a full battery of physical tests carried out in conjunction with psychological examinations.
This is to rule out any physical illnesses that may be producing the symptoms. It’s the duty of doctors to ensure there is not an underlying physical cause for the emotional problems being experienced, before they diagnose bipolar disorder.
Only once all possible physical causes have been ruled out can a diagnosis of bipolar be confirmed and a bipolar disorder treatment be prescribed.
Bipolar Depression Treatment
Treatment of all forms of bipolar disorder is based largely around the use of medication and patient education.
Medications used involve mood stabilizers such as lithium, anticonvulsants, and antidepressants such as Prozac.
Bipolar Disorder Medications: Different Medications for Different Symptoms
Lithium as Mood Stabilizer to Control Mania
Mood stabilizers are of particular importance to Bipolar 1 sufferers as they help control the manic episodes of bipolar. The drug most commonly associated with bipolar treatment is lithium – this is a mood stabilizer.
While it is effective, it requires regular close attention from a medical professional to keep a check on dosage and side effects.
Anticonvulsants as Another Mood Stabilizer
Anticonvulsants have traditionally been used to treat epilepsy, but they also have a mood stabilizing effect.
Antidepressants to Deal with Depressions
Antidepressants are used to deal with social anxiety and the low moods associated with the depressive episodes encountered in bipolar sufferers.
Bipolar Diet for the Long Run
While medication is the most effective and reliable bipolar disorder treatment, many bipolar patients don’t like the idea of having to rely on pills in the long term in order to live a normal life.
While the necessity of medication is impossible to avoid for severe bipolar cases, the need for drugs can be reduced by making changes to lifestyle and diet.
Fish and Omega-3 for Chemical Brain Balance
Plenty of fish is a good starting point for a bipolar diet. Some research has indicated that omega-3, an essential fatty acid common in fish oil, has many positive effects for brain function in general and may be useful in reducing symptoms of bipolar disorder.
Steering Clear of Unhealthy Stimulants
What you don’t eat is just as important as what you do eat, so steer clear of drugs, alcohol, caffeine and nicotine as much as possible.
Treatment Resistant Bipolar Disorder
In some cases, traditional bipolar disorder treatments prove to be of little use for a bipolar sufferer.
In these cases, the first response is usually to change to different medications. Because there is often an element of guesswork involved in the particular brain chemicals causing various manic or depressive episodes, it may require some shuffling of medications before a combination is struck that works for the patient.
In rare cases, the bipolar disorder remains resistant to a broad variety of traditional medicine treatments.
When this happens, the next step is to try lesser-known alternative medications, natural treatments, or non-medication treatments such as various forms of therapy or significant changes to lifestyle and diet.
Sometimes, a combination of some or all of these approaches is required to produce results.
New Bipolar Disorder Research: Ketogenic Diet as a ‘Natural’ Mood Stabilizer
In terms of bipolar diet, much of the most recent research has centered around using ketogenic diets as a natural for of mood stabilizer to treat bipolar.
The theory behind this is essentially that because epilepsy drugs (anticonvulsants) have successfully been used to treat bipolar patients, a diet used to treat epilepsy (the ketogenic diet) may also be effective in treating bipolar.
The ketogenic diet is essentially a restriction of protein and carbohydrates while upping fat intake.
That might sound like a recipe for disasters from a weight loss perspective, but there’s solid science behind why such a diet creates positive effects.
Before you get more into natural treatments for bipolar disorder, it’s important to not that if you’ve been diagnosed you should stick to the treatment plan your doctor has prescribed for you.
If you want to try natural treatments, do them alongside your medical plan and consult your doctor first to make sure nothing you introduce into your diet will interfere with the drugs you’ve been prescribed.
What Would You Like to Read Next
The Bipolar Disorder Test Guide: How to Act if You Experience Bipolar Disorder Symptoms and Are Wondering “Am I Bipolar?”
Natural Cures for Depression: The Power of the All-Round Holistic Approach
Depression Treatment Centers and Other Depression Treatments and Resources on How to Overcome Depression
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