Treating Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder, a common brain disorder, does not yet have a cure, but the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved several medications that can help treat the symptoms.

Bipolar Disorder Symptoms

Even without the presence of symptoms, people may still be suffering from bipolar disorder. Bipolar I and bipolar II disorder are the two different types of this ailment.

Bipolar I disorder, which is often referred to as manic-depressive illness, has symptoms that include mood swings, shifts I energy and activity levels, and an inability to complete everyday tasks. Patients often switch between periods of depression and periods of high energy known as manic episodes.

With bipolar II disorder, people tend to skip the severe manic episodes, but still experienced reduced mania known as hypomania. They may remain productive and not feel as though they have an issue until they hit low periods of depression. This is where diagnosis is a must.

Symptoms of depression include, but are not limited to:

  • Feelings of sadness or hopelessness
  • A lack of energy
  • The inability to experience enjoyment
  • Thoughts of death or suicide

Symptoms of mania include, but are not limited to:

  • An elevation of mood or irritability
  • Increased restlessness or activity
  • Faster speech or racing thoughts
  • The feeling of less need for sleep

Mitchell Mathis, M.D., director of the Division of Psychiatry Products at the FDA spoke about mania and how it can make people engage in risky, impulsive behavior that is out of character and potentially dangerous.

What Should You Do if You Think You Have Bipolar Disorder

If you believe that you have the symptoms of bipolar disorder, you need to seek help from a mental health professional as soon as possible.

It’s incredibly important that you don’t ignore these symptoms in yourself or a loved one. Talk to your doctor or a mental health professional to get a proper diagnosis.

Mathis explains how a doctor can complete a laundry list of exams before delivering a diagnosis, as doing so will eliminate other potential health issues. Your doctor will rule out everything else before recommending a mental health professional.

The Treatment of Bipolar Disorder

There are many FDA-approved treatment options available to people with bipolar disorder.

The medications used to treat bipolar disorder include:

  • Mood stabilizers – these medications are designed to prevent mania, hypomania, and depressive episodes by balancing certain brain chemicals
  • Antipsychotic drugs – these medications include “atypical antipsychotics,” which are relatively new

The main issue with medications is that they often come with side effects. If you are taking mood stabilizers, there is the chance that you may experience increased thirst, trembling or nausea. With antipsychotic meds, dizziness, sleepiness, and restlessness are common side effects.

If your doctor prescribes atypical antipsychotics, do not be surprised if he or she asks for regular monitoring of your weight, blood sugar, and cholesterol. Increases in all three can be side effects when on these medications.

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What is Emotional Health

Looking after your emotional health is just as important as caring for your physical health.

If your emotional health isn’t as solid as you’d like it to be, here’s the good news: just as you can improve your physical fitness by working at it, you can improve your emotional fitness, too. There are many things you can do to boost your mood, build resilience, and get more enjoyment out of life.

For example, the emotion of anger is neither good nor bad. It’s perfectly healthy and normal to feel angry when you’ve been mistreated or wronged. The feeling isn’t the problem—it’s what you do with it that makes a difference. Anger becomes a problem when it harms you or others.

There are several different types of drugs available to treat mental illnesses. Some of the most commonly used are antidepressants, anti-anxiety, anti-psychotic, mood stabilizing, and stimulant medications. These drugs carry a risk of addiction, so they are not as desirable for long-term use. Other possible side effects include drowsiness, poor concentration, and irritability.