Bipolar disorder - Treatments
How is bipolar disorder treated?
Your doctor may prescribe you different medications to treat your symptoms.
There are medications that can help to treat mania. These medications are often called mood stabilisers. The National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE) that recommends the treatment for bipolar disorder call them “antimanic medications” and “prophylactic medication”.
Antimanic medication is used to treat symptoms of mania. Prophylactic medication is used to prevent symptoms of mania and to keep you stable. Doctors can use the same medications as both antimanic and prophylactic medication. They will use different dosages and combinations.
Commonly prescribed medications are listed below.
Your doctor might give you antidepressants to treat depressive symptoms. If so, your doctor should also prescribe you antimanic medication because antidepressants on their own can cause mania.
As well as medication you can manage your symptoms with psychosocial treatments.
Psychosocial treatments include one of the following explained below.
- Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) – this is mainly recommended for the depressive episodes of bipolar disorder.
- Psycho education – this involves learning about your illness, your treatment and how to recognise signs of becoming unwell again so you can prevent a full episode. Psycho education may also be helpful for anyone who is supporting you, such as family, a partner or a trusted colleague.
- Family therapy – this works on family relationships to improve how you feel. This can help reduce any problems in the family which add to, or are because of, your symptoms.
NICE recommends long term preventative treatment because bipolar disorder is a recurring illness.
It is possible to manage your symptoms with treatment, even if they are severe. However, sometimes the treatment you are getting might not be helping you. You and your doctor may try different combinations of medication or explore how talking therapy can help you. You might not respond to the treatment for mania or depression. You may need to try different combinations of medications. Your psychiatrist should also look at any other medications you are taking, such as antidepressants. You may also need to have a look at the amount, or type of, talking therapy you are getting.
It is important to talk to your doctor or any of your other health professionals to make sure you are getting the best out of your treatment. You should feel confident talking about anything you are concerned about and your treatment.
Read more about:
Need practical advice & info? We can help.
Contact our Advice team about mental health & related issues
0300 5000 927 Monday - Friday 9.30am - 4pm, not including bank holidays