Bipolar Disorder Health (cont.)

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For most people with bipolar disorder, medications do not relieve symptoms completely. Psychological counseling (psychotherapy) complements drug therapy and is considered a crucial part of effective therapy.

  • Counseling usually begins in the hospital or when medical treatment begins.
  • Different types of therapy are used. Therapy may be individual or in a group; both can be effective if approached with a positive attitude.
  • Psychoeducation teaches a person about their illness so that they are able to recognize signs of relapse. This allows them to get help early before symptoms are severe.
  • Cognitive behavior therapy teaches people how to change negative thought patterns and behaviors.
  • Family therapy helps to improve communication between people with BPD and their families. Families learn how to recognize early symptoms so that they can get help for their loved one.
  • Social rhythm therapy teaches people to track their moods, sleep patterns, and other behaviors so that they can identify relapses early, improve their relationships with others, and optimize social functioning.
  • The goal is to help the person accept and cope with the disease.
  • It is often very important for the spouse or other family members to be involved during visits to the therapist.
    • It is important to treat the whole family, not just the person with bipolar disorder, not because they are all "sick," but because this disorder affects them all.
    • Family members can learn valuable ways to deal with their loved one's mood swings.

Follow-up

It is critically important for people with bipolar disorder to take all medication as directed. You will very likely be tempted to stop your medication. Many people with bipolar disorder do so. Don't do so. Instead, talk it over with your health care professional. Stopping your medication will probably cause your symptoms to come back. It may also cause uncomfortable or alarming withdrawal symptoms.

Depending on which medication is used, you may need regular blood tests to monitor levels and to check for side effects of the drug.

You should have regular appointments with your health care professional to see how well the treatment is working and detect any instability of your mood.

Regular sessions with a psychotherapist or counselor are also important.

Ongoing education for you and your family is crucial to help everyone deal with the disease.

You and your family should be taught to watch for early warning signs of crisis and ways to deal with stress to prevent recurrences.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 4/15/2013

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