It can take a while to find the right bipolar medication and dose. Everyone responds to medication differently thus several drugs might be tried before the one that works in a particular case is found. It may also take some time to establish the optimal dose, so it is important to work closely with a doctor. This is crucial since the medication should be re-evaluated on regular basis because the optimal dose fluctuates along the changes in a lifestyle. Medication should be continued even if a person feels better as the likelihood of having a relapse is very high.
All prescription drugs come with risks, but if taken RESPONSIBLY and especially, if combined with therapy and healthy lifestyle, the risks will be minimized and the efficiency of the treatment maximized. Responsibly here refers to the following:
- Medication is taken as prescribed
- Track of side effects is noted/recorded
- Being aware of potential drug interactions
Common Mood Stabilizers used in the treatment of Bipolar Disorder are:
1) LITHIUM, which is the oldest and most well-known mood stabilizer, highly effective for treating mania. It can also help bipolar depression, however, it is not as effective for mixed episodes or rapid cycling. Lithium takes from one to two weeks to reach its full effect. If lithium is taken, it is important to have regular blood tests to make sure the dose is in the effective range.
2) ANTICONVULSANTS, which have been shown to relieve the symptoms of mania and reduce mood swings. These include:
-Valproic acid (Depakote) – often the first choice for rapid cycling, mixed mania or mania with hallucinations or delusions.
3) Natural Mood Stabilizers
Other medications used in treatment of bipolar include:
- ANTIDEPRESSANTS, however their use is becoming increasingly controversial
- ANTIPSYCHOTIC MEDICATIONS
- BENZODIAZEPINES – fast acting sedatives that work within 30 minutes to an hour. These might be prescribed while a person is waiting for the medication to kick in, however these are also highly addictive so they should be used only as a 'temporary measure'.
Research shows that people who take medication for bipolar disorder tend to recover much faster and control their moods much better if they also get therapy. Therapy helps with coping strategies, monitoring the progress and dealing with problems that the disorder is causing in one's life.
If anyone wants to share their personal experience with regards to the treatment of Bipolar Disorder, please do so. This may prove invaluable for other readers. Thanks.