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Treatments for Bipolar Disorder

The most effective treatment for bipolar disorder is a combination of medication and psychotherapy. Most people take more than one drug, like a mood-stabilizing drug and an antipsychotic, benzodiazepine, or antidepressant. However, it's important that treatment be ongoing -- even after you feel better -- to keep mood symptoms under control.

One note of caution: The FDA has determined that antidepressant medications can increase the risk of suicidal thinking and behavior in children and adolescents with depression and other mental health disorders. If you have questions or concerns, discuss them with your health care provider.

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Psychotherapy for Bipolar Disorder

Psychotherapy, or "talk" therapy, is an important part of treatment for bipolar disorder. During therapy, you can discuss feelings, thoughts, and behaviors that cause you problems. Talk therapy can help you understand and hopefully master any problems that hurt your ability to function well in your life and career. It also helps you stay on your medication. It can help you maintain a positive self-image. The types of psychotherapy used to treat bipolar disorder include: Behavioral...

Read the Psychotherapy for Bipolar Disorder article > >

After remission from an acute episode of bipolar disorder, a person is at an especially high risk for relapse for about six months. Thus, continuation and maintenance of ongoing therapy is often recommended.

Anyone who has experienced two or more manic or hypomanic episodes generally is considered to have lifetime bipolar disorder. That person should have maintenance therapy to minimize the risk for future episodes. Once your doctor has helped stabilize the moods of the acute phase of the disorder (either a manic or depressive episode), drug therapy is usually continued indefinitely -- sometimes at lower doses.

Remember this: Even if you have been without bipolar symptoms for several months, do not stop taking your medications. Your doctor may lower your doses, but discontinuation of medications will put you at risk for recurrence of bipolar symptoms.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Joseph Goldberg, MD on July 31, 2014

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