There are many medications for treating bipolar disorder, so a psychiatrist, who is best qualified to identify which drugs work best for a specific patient, should oversee treatment. A psychiatrist is trained as a medical doctor (MD or DO).
Psychologists and some mental health counselors (Ph.Ds and PsyDs) can provide psychotherapy, or talk therapy, another critical part of treatment. Through therapy, people can develop coping methods that prevent long periods of illness, extended hospital stays, and suicide.
Treatment for bipolar depression has come a long way from the days (not so long ago) when patients were given sedatives and medications with numerous side effects. Today, mood stabilizing drugs are a mainstay treatment for bipolar disorder. Doctors may prescribe lithium, an antimanic drug, or an antipsychotic drug -- or a combination of both -- in order to alleviate symptoms of depression without triggering a manic episode.
While depression episodes are far more common than manias and have a tremendous...
WebMD Medical Reference: "Bipolar Disorder (Manic Depressive Disorder)" and "Effects of Untreated Depression."
WebMD Assess Plus: Bipolar Disorder Assessment. National Institute for Mental Health: "Step-BD Women's Studies."Massachusetts General Hospital Bipolar Clinic & Research Program.
MedicineNet.com: "Bipolar Disorder (Mania)."
American Psychiatric Association: "Practice Guideline for the Treatment of Patients With Bipolar Disorder."
Joseph Goldberg, MD on October 27, 2014