Medication Management for Bipolar Disorder
ipolar disorder can be a devastating mental health condition, especially when it goes untreated. The episodes of mania cause impulsive behavior, physical discomfort, and interpersonal problems. Then, as the depression kicks in, you may feel completely isolated and hopeless.
Bipolar disorder is typically a lifelong illness, so managing the condition is a major responsibility. Although you can’t cure bipolar disorder, you can manage your symptoms and greatly reduce your risk of severe highs and lows. For many people, medication is the key to getting their symptoms in check.
Starting a psychiatric medication can be a stressful experience. Patients sometimes worry that the medication will make them feel like a different person or that they’ll struggle with side effects. While it’s completely natural to be nervous about a new medication, working closely with your psychiatrist can help to put your mind at ease. Medication management is a long-term process, so regularly checking in with your team is essential.
The Beverly Hills Therapy Group offers medication management services for individuals with bipolar disorder. If you’re interested in exploring psychiatric medications, we’re here to help.
Benefits of Medication Management for Bipolar Disorder
Medication has a number of benefits for people with bipolar disorder, but working closely with your psychiatrist is critical. There are several types of bipolar medications, and most work to stabilize your mood. They don’t stop you from experiencing different moods and emotions throughout the day, but they reduce the extreme mood swings that are characteristic of bipolar disorder. With the right medication regimen, you’re far less likely to experience long-term periods of mania and depression.
Both mania and depression can severely impact your life. During mania, you might engage in risky behavior or make decisions that you later regret. Depression can destroy your motivation and make you feel like nobody cares about you. When untreated, people with bipolar disorder often feel like their life is complete chaos. The alternating periods of mania and depression can affect your relationships, health, finances, and career. Medication doesn’t completely cure the problem, but it prevents most of the extremes.
Finding the right medication for bipolar disorder takes time. This is a volatile mental health condition, and everyone has different experiences. The first medication you try might not work for you. Ongoing medication management allows you to consult regularly with your psychiatrist so that you find the right prescriptions.
Side effects are fairly common with bipolar medications, too. Check-ins with your medication management psychiatrist are a great time to discuss concerns about any adverse effects you’re experiencing. Your psychiatrist might recommend a different medication if the side effects are interfering with your life. If the side effects are mild, they may have some helpful suggestions for dealing with them.
Even if you haven’t had a manic or depressive episode in years, checking in with your psychiatrist is essential. Bipolar disorder can be unpredictable, and your medication needs change over time. You and your team should continue to monitor your medication so that you maintain good mental health.
Types of Medications for Bipolar Disorder
Several types of medications can treat bipolar disorder, but the right medications for you depend on your symptoms and side effects. The following are the primary types of bipolar medications:
The mood stabilizer Lithium is one of the most common medications for treating bipolar disorder. It helps to prevent both manic and depressive episodes and can be taken long-term as maintenance therapy. Unfortunately, Lithium can cause a number of side effects. If you take this medication, it’s important to be mindful of your overall health.
Anticonvulsants are a category of mood stabilizers that include the drugs Depakote, Lamictal, Depakene, and others. These medications are commonly used to treat both manic and depressive episodes.
Antipsychotic medications are usually most effective for treating manic episodes and mixed episodes. Examples of antipsychotics include Zyprexia, Risperdal, Seroquel, and Abilify. Not everyone who takes antipsychotics experiences side effects, but some of the most common side effects include drowsiness, dry mouth, and weight gain.
Psychiatrists sometimes prescribe antidepressants when a patient is experiencing a depressive episode. However, antidepressants can sometimes trigger mania. People with bipolar usually take these medications alongside an antipsychotic or a mood stabilizer.
What to Expect When Starting Medication
It’s normal to feel stressed or nervous before your first medication management appointment. Remind yourself that you’re taking an important step for your mental health and that the people on your team are here to help you.
Your psychiatrist will start by reviewing your medical history and asking you about your mental health concerns. They’ll do a thorough review of your symptoms and experiences to learn more about your situation. Then, they may prescribe one or more medications to treat your bipolar disorder.
Some medications take a few weeks to go into effect, so if you don’t notice a difference right away, don’t worry. When you follow up with your psychiatrist, you can discuss your experiences with the medications and report any side effects you noticed. Depending on how you respond to the medications, your psychiatrist may adjust your dose or recommend a different prescription. Over time, you’ll settle into a medication regimen that offers the best results with the fewest side effects.
Combining Medication and Therapy
Medication and psychotherapy can be a highly effective combination for treating bipolar disorder. The medication helps to regulate your brain chemistry and prevent bouts of mania or depression. Therapy allows you to gain a stronger self-awareness of your symptoms and experiences, and it helps you develop coping mechanisms so that you can handle stressful or triggering situations without falling into manic or depressive episodes.
You don’t have to attend psychotherapy to receive psychiatric medications. However, psychiatrists often recommend therapy as an additional treatment for bipolar disorder. Therapy provides a number of long-term benefits that can help you maintain good mental health for years.
Medication Management Psychiatrist in Beverly Hills
The Beverly Hills Therapy Group provides therapy and Psychiatric Medication Management. Our team understands how painful bipolar disorder can be, and we have the resources to help. Whether you’re interested in medication, therapy, or both, you can reach out to us today to schedule an appointment. Managing mental health isn’t easy, but working with a dedicated team of professionals can put you on the path to wellness.
Ron N. Gad, PhDFounder
Ron N. Gad, PhD is the founder of Beverly Hills Therapy Group in California. Dr. Gad holds a PhD in clinical psychology from Pacifica Graduate Institute. Along with his staff of licensed therapist, Beverly Hills Therapy Group provides mental health services for many disorders including anxiety, trauma, depression, and several others.