Bipolar Disorder Treatments: What Are Your Options?

9 min to read

May 7, 2024

Simon S.

Medication management, therapeutic approaches, self-management and lifestyle changes, and advanced and emerging treatments are all important aspects of treating bipolar disorderMood stabilizersantipsychotics, and antidepressants are commonly used medications, while psychotherapycognitive behavioral therapy, and family therapy are effective therapeutic approaches. Self-management and lifestyle changes, such as maintaining regular sleep patterns, following a healthy diet and exercise routine, and practicing stress reduction techniques, can also help manage symptoms. Advanced treatments like transcranial magnetic stimulation and ketamine offer hope for individuals who do not respond to traditional treatments.

Mood changes caused by bipolar illness need to be controlled in order to keep people stable and improve their health. Mood stabilization, daily functioning, and well-being must be maintained through successful treatment. Mood stabilizers and antipsychotics are used in this piece to talk about medication management. Non-drug therapies, such as psychotherapy and lifestyle changes, are also talked about. These strategies work together as a whole to treat symptoms and lower the number of mood events. The plan is made to fit the needs of each bipolar patient.

Medication Management

Mood swings from sad lows to manic highs are a sign of bipolar disorder. Medications are needed to control this condition. Mood stabilizers, antipsychotics, and sometimes antidepressants that are specially made for each patient are used to control symptoms and keep people from relapsing.

Lithium, valproate, and lamotrigine are often the first medicines used to treat bipolar disorder. Lithium is known to shorten hyper episodes in people with bipolar disease and somewhat shorten depressive episodes. Even though it is widely available and works, the side effects on the thyroid and kidneys must always be watched.

Antipsychotics, such as quetiapine and aripiprazole, are used to treat manic attacks. Mood stabilization, sleep, and anxiety are all improved by these new drugs.

To find the right mix between benefits and risks, side effects like weight gain, diabetes, and trouble moving around must be carefully looked at and dealt with.

bipolar woman on a black background

Quetiapine and lurasidone, on the other hand, are legal and work well. These medicines for bipolar disorder and anxiety help with mood and anxiety problems. Even though these treatments can be helpful, patients and doctors should be aware of side effects like feeling tired and gaining weight.

People with bipolar illness need to be careful when taking medicines. They can help with depression, but if you don't take a mood stabilizer with them, they could make you go hyper.

Medication Types

Taking medicine for mental health issues is necessary. Antipsychotics, mood stabilizers, and antidepressants are needed in a lot of ways. Each medicine has a unique job to do based on the symptoms and findings.

Mood stabilizers are often given to people with bipolar disorder to keep their manic and depressive episodes in check. Lithium is often used to calm the mood of people with bipolar disorder because it stops high episodes and suicide. Extra mood stabilizers, such as valproate and carbamazepine, can help people who have mood swings. Lamotrigine might help with nervousness and depression. It helps treat bipolar depression and lowers the number of manic attacks. Keep an eye on the blood levels and be aware of the negative effects of the medicine.

A lot of people with serious mental diseases, like schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and major depression, take these drugs. Normal antipsychotics, like haloperidol and chlorpromazine, are not the same as atypical ones, like risperidone, olanzapine, and quetiapine. Doctors and authors advise atypical antipsychotics because they have fewer side effects in people with movement disorders. These medicines can help people with bipolar disorder keep their feelings stable, especially those who are having psychotic signs or very strong manic phases. When picking an antipsychotic, think about the patient's health and any possible side effects.

These medicines are often used to treat major depression disorders, anxiety disorders, dysthymia, and the depression phase of bipolar disorder. SSRIs, SNRIs, TCAs, and MAOIs are some of the different types of antidepressants. SSRIs like fluoxetine and sertraline are famous because they have few side effects and work well to treat depression and anxiety.

These medicines should only be given to people who have a medical background and a history of possible drug problems. To treat a wide range of symptoms, mood stabilizers, antipsychotics, and antidepressants are often all part of a full bipolar medication treatment. Medicines need to be watched and changed so that the best treatment with the fewest side effects can be found.

Therapeutic Approaches

Non-medication therapies play a crucial role in the treatment of bipolar disorder, offering vital support that complements the use of medication. Psychotherapy, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), interpersonal and social rhythm therapy, and family therapy are widely recognized and utilized in the field.


Managing bipolar disorder requires psychotherapy, which can offer a range of individualized methods to fit the needs of those who are affected. Therapy helps manage symptoms, lowers the chance of them happening again, and boosts overall health.

CBT is often used to treat bipolar illness. The main goal is to change negative thought patterns and behaviors that may cause or make mood episodes worse. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) helps people question and get rid of harmful thoughts by replacing them with ones that are more realistic and helpful. This lowers the number and severity of episodes.

IPSRT is a treatment for bipolar disorder that stabilizes daily habits like eating, sleeping, and waking up to lessen mood swings. IPSRT also helps people with bipolar disorder improve their relationships and social interactions by focusing on interpersonal problems that affect mood stability.

Gets the family involved in therapy. This method helps families understand the illness, talk to each other better, and learn how to solve problems to assist the patient. Research shows that FFT lowers the number of relapses and stays, especially in younger people and those who have families who are there for them.

Psychoeducation helps people with bipolar disorder and their families understand the sickness and how to deal with it. Figuring out what's going on can help you spot mood swings, deal with the illness, and stick to the treatment plan.

These treatments can be changed to fit the needs of each patient, and a mix of therapies is often best. Combining different types of psychotherapy can help people with bipolar disorder control their symptoms and feel more stable and happy.

Self-Management and Lifestyle Changes

People with bipolar illness need to do more than just go to therapy. They need to take care of their health and change how they live. Make these changes to your life to improve your mental balance and health.

Getting enough sleep every night is important for controlling mood swings, especially for people with bipolar disorder. Sleep problems can lead to hyper- and depressive bouts, which are bad for your health in general.

Getting the same amount of sleep every night helps keep the internal clock in order, which controls sleep, mood, and mental health. Keeping the same sleep schedule, especially on the weekends, helps the body get used to a routine and cuts down on sleep disruptions that can mess up your mood.

Not getting enough sleep can make mood changes, restlessness, memory loss, and stress more likely. A good night's sleep can help you think more clearly, make better decisions, and keep your emotions in check.

People with bipolar illness should look at how they sleep. Keeping a sleep diary could help you figure out when your mood changes. People can make changes to their lives or treatments as part of this preventative approach to avoid a serious crisis. For good mental and physical health, you need to get enough sleep every night.

  • Diet: As more people learn about the link between food and mental health, the field of nutritional psychology is growing quickly. Omega-3 fatty acids, which can be found in fish, flaxseeds, and walnuts, have been shown to help people with depression feel better and less depressed. To raise serotonin levels, which helps keep your mood stable, eat more whole grains, fruits, and veggies. But foods high in refined sugar and coffee can cause sudden changes in blood sugar. This could make mood swings, anger, and depression worse.
  • Exercise: Getting regular exercise can make mood swings a lot less common. Exercise makes you feel better, gives you more energy, and lowers stress and worry. Regular exercise also makes sleep better, which helps people with bipolar disorder keep their mood stable and cut down on high attacks. A 30 minute run, swim, or bike ride most days of the week has been shown to help people control their mood.
  • Mindfulness Meditation: Mindfulness meditation is a good way to deal with stress. It's important to accept the present without judging it. Mindfulness exercise helps people deal with strong feelings and become more self-aware, which lowers stress, anxiety, and depression.
  • Yoga and Tai Chi: Through yoga poses, breathing movements, and meditation, these techniques improve health and the link between the mind and body. Yoga and Tai Chi can help you feel less stressed, keep your mind stable, and improve your mental health.
  • Deep Breathing Exercises: You can easily add deep breathing to your daily routine to quickly and effectively lower your stress. Diaphragmatic breathing helps lower blood pressure and slow the heart rate by letting the body share air fully.
  • Regular Exercise: To lower stress, you need to move often. Endorphins are chemicals that make you feel good, and regular exercise releases them. Regular exercise can help you sleep better, which can make you feel better.

While alcohol can help with stress and depression for a short time, it can also lower amounts of serotonin and norepinephrine, which control mood. Over time, drinking a lot can make you feel more depressed and anxious, which can make it harder to control your mood swings. Also, alcohol may make mood stabilizers and drugs less effective, which is bad for your health.

When you stop using drugs for fun, like cocaine and amphetamines, you might experience excitement or mood swings. They can cause a lot of serious ups and downs that can hurt your mental health, relationships, and job.

People with mood disorders should not drink or use drugs.

Mood changes need to be closely watched in order to be managed, especially for people with mood illnesses. Keep an eye on your diet, exercise, and attitude to find trends or things that might be affecting your mood.

Writing in a journal every day might help. Every day, people should keep track of their stress, happiness, sleep, food, and exercise. Early mood changes need to be noticed to stop episodes from getting worse.

A regular record might show that not getting enough sleep or eating the wrong things can make you angry or sad. Now that people know this, they may change the way they eat and sleep to improve their mental health.

Monitoring on a regular basis helps doctors make treatments more effective. Its information is very useful and can help make sure that drugs and treatments are tailored to each person's needs. People can handle mood swings and take care of their health when they are regularly monitored.

Advanced and Emerging Treatments

Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) and ketamine are two new treatments for bipolar disorder that give people hope. Patients who haven't reacted to normal treatments can try these other methods.

TMS (Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation) is a way to trigger nerve cells in the brain without surgery. People who have bipolar disorder that doesn't react to medication or who are worried about the side effects can benefit from this therapy.

To use TMS, an electric coil is placed close to the head and aimed at the prefrontal region. It is a part of the brain that controls mood. Once this is done, short electric waves are sent through the coil. These pulses send out gentle electric currents that stimulate nerve cells in the brain. This balances brain activity and lowers depressive symptoms.

Usually, the therapy meets five days a week for four to six weeks. Most visits last between 30 and 60 minutes. Patients can go back to their normal routines after each TMS treatment without having to be sedated or sleepy. Most of the time, patients only feel mild pain or headaches during or after surgery.

A large study found that TMS can help lessen the signs of bipolar depression. Some people feel better after weeks of therapy, which is a big advantage over standard drugs. TMS doesn't have systemic side effects like many drugs do, so it might be a good choice for people who can't use other treatments or have side effects.

Ketamine, which was first used as an anesthetic, has changed the way bipolar disorder is treated by focusing on depressive moments that other drugs don't work to improve. This drug is being used more in psychiatric situations because it works quickly and well to treat depression.

Ketamine has a different effect on mood problems compared to regular antidepressants, which work on the serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine processes in the brain. Ketamine mostly works through the glutamate route. Glutamate is a stimulant that changes the way synapses change and how we learn and remember things. Ketamine changes the way glutamate is sent, which makes neurons more flexible, and new connections form between neurons. This process resets the parts of the brain that control mood.

Low doses of ketamine given intravenously while a doctor watches are the usual way to treat bipolar depression. The treatment plan generally includes injections for a long time. Normal antidepressants may not start to work for weeks, but people who take this drug often feel better after the first dose.

Ketamine use needs to be managed properly. Keep in mind that a single dose may only have short-term benefits. If you don't get the right care, trouble may come back. More injections may be needed to keep the benefits going. Because it is a psychoactive drug, there are worries about dissociation effects like dreams and changes in how you see things after an injection. Because of this, training needs to be done in a controlled setting.


Medication management and mood stabilization are necessary for treating bipolar disorder completely. Medications, therapy, and changes to a person's lifestyle can all help ease their symptoms and make their results better. These treatments need to be tailored to each person to make sure they get the best and most effective care to control their illness and live a healthy life.

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