Welcome to Bipolar in Focus, I'm Jane Pauley.
Bipolar is treatable in fact sometimes treatment is so successful but people can forget they have a chronic illness one that needs constant attention.
Dr. Megan Poe from Bellevue Hospital in New York City is with us. Keeping people on their meds is really hard sometimes?
Yes, very hard.
Because people start to feel good and when they start to feel good they're tempted to stop the medications.
And when they stop the medications because they're feeling very normal, what happens often is they start to feel a little bit better as the symptoms smolder and they become slightly manic.
They start to feel very good and then even euphoric and at that point they don't want to go back on their medications.
What happens after they become euphoric is that they start to get irritable, belligerent, the mania shifts from smoldering into a raging wild fire.
And that's when you're in trouble and it's much harder to treat at that point.
When a person has had such an experience before and this is a recurrence, why do they forget how bad it was before?
Well, they forget because they're no longer in the crisis. They start to feel good and they start to remember all the parts of their life that they love and it's just not in the foreground.
And so they don't think about it.
Something to think about is that an episode of mania or depression actually has damaging effects on the brain?
That's true. For every time a person suffers from an episode of either mania or depression.
They are more likely to suffer from another then the next episode can beget several more and those can beget several more.
What people don't realize also is that it's incredibly detrimental to the brain.
Medication protects the brain. It doesn't just protect you from that episode or prevent you from having the mania right then.
It protects your brain from getting sicker and it keeps you healthier, thinking more clearly and higher functioning as a person in the world.
What do you say when people tell you they don't want to take medication because it will affect their personality?
That's what people are often really worried about and what I try to explain is that it will help actualize your personality,
that the illness is in the way of you being creative, of you finishing what you start, what visions you want to execute in the world, in your life.
Because bipolar is a very fragmenting illness and when you're manic or depressed you're not productive at all you're actually quite sick.
How many times does it take to get it right?
That's very individually based but what I can say is that a person needs to be open to that trial and error that this is really the art of getting well, is trying different medications.
Tweaking the amounts, the dosages and working very actively and in good constant flow of communication with their treater so that this can happen as soon as possible.
Is the combination of medication and therapy even more potent?
Yes. It's incredibly beneficial. When people can see someone regularly and to have psychotherapy sessions on top of staying on medication,
they do very well because someone is constantly speaking with them and processing what's happening and that's crucial.
We'll end on that note. Thank you Dr. Poe.
And thank you for watching Bipolar in Focus.