Bipolar disorder is treated with a combination of medicines and counseling. It's important to take your medicines
exactly as prescribed, even when you feel well. Your doctor may have you try
different combinations of medicines to find what's right for you.
Your family doctor
can prescribe medicines to treat
bipolar disorder. But you will probably be referred to a
psychiatrist, who is trained specifically to treat
The bipolar spectrum is a term used to refer to conditions of many people with depression, substance abuse, and a wide range of other psychiatric conditions who also have some symptoms of bipolar disorder. Although they have these similar symptoms, they are not diagnosed with bipolar disorder as it is commonly defined. Some psychiatrists find the concept useful. But since it has not been rigorously studied it hasn't been widely adopted.
Many people don't get help for bipolar disorder. You may not seek treatment because you think the symptoms aren't bad enough or that you can work things out on your own. But treatment can help you manage the highs and lows.
Treatment often starts with helping you through an "acute" phase or manic episode. You may be
psychotic or using such poor judgment that you are in
danger of harming yourself. Your doctor may decide that you should be hospitalized
for your own safety, especially if he or she thinks you are suicidal.
Medicines that may be used include mood stabilizers and antipsychotics. Over time, these medicines will be adjusted with the goal of preventing manic and depressive episodes. It may
take months for your symptoms to go away and for you to be able to maintain a normal routine of work and activity. To learn more, see Medications.
Counseling is also an important part of treatment. It can help you cope with problems that may come up in your work or relationships because of bipolar disorder. To learn more, see Other Treatment.
You can also do some things on your own to help manage your symptoms and maintain a normal routine. Joining a support group to talk with others who have bipolar disorder can help. To learn more, see Home Treatment.