We’re going to look at bipolar depression treatments that you can explore if you are suffering with this illness. The good news is that there are many treatments available and they’re not just medications.
Bipolar Depression Treatment: What is Bipolar disorder?
Bipolar disorder is an illness in which the patient suffers with manic and depressive episodes. It’s important that once diagnosed you persevere with bipolar depression treatment because this is a condition that you’ll have for life. It may take some trial and error to find what works for you. But when you get a treatment plan worked out that you’re happy with you will be able to get the disorder under control and enjoy your life once more.
Bipolar Depression Treatment: Diagnosis
It can take some time to get a correct diagnosis. Nina was 19 years old when she had her first manic episode. She lost a lot of weight and barely slept as she felt she had some much energy. Her dress sense completely changed and she chose to wear much more daring clothes and engaged in reckless behaviour.
Her friends noticed the change in Nina and spoke to her parents who were also concerned. At first they wondered if she was taking drugs but she denied it. Not long after this episode Nina sank in to a huge depression. She comfort ate and put on all the weight she’d lost and a lot more. She agreed to see the doctor who initially diagnosed Nina with depression and put her on antidepressants. Nina seemed to improve and then she experienced another manic episode.
The fact that Nina experienced mania whilst taking antidepressants helped her GP make the correct diagnosis of bipolar disorder.
Bipolar Depression Treatment: In the media
If you watched ER you might well remember Sally Field’s character Nora who was battling with bipolar disorder. The programme did a lot to raise awareness of this disorder. However, Nora refused to take her medication which was Depakote and was seen experiencing extreme mood swings.
Luckily there are many more medications available than Depakote and lots of other treatments. So if like Nora you try something and don’t get on with it there are lots of other options.
Bipolar Depression Treatment: A treatment plan
Your complete treatment plan will likely consist of medication, therapy, knowledge of your illness, lifestyle changes, and establishing a support system.
Medication is essential to stabilise your mood whereas therapy can help you to deal with the way this disorder has affected your life. When Nina’s mood was under control with drugs she was mortified about her behaviour during her manic episodes. Through therapy she was able to repair her relationships with her friends and family and learn how to deal with her feelings.
Nina actively sought information about bipolar disorder which she shared with her friends and family helping them to understand the illness. Through these means she gained a support system of people that she could turn to when she experienced set backs.
It’s important to make lifestyle changes which support your recovery. Nina used to keep very irregular hours often studying until the early hours of the morning and then lying in bed until noon. As part of her treatment plan she went to bed at a set time each night and got up at the same time each morning. Other lifestyle changes which are beneficial are to cut out alcohol and drugs.
Bipolar Depression Treatment: Types of therapy
Therapy is an important part of your treatment plan. Catherine Zeta Jones is an actress who has been very open about her bipolar disorder. When she left residential treatment she was reported as saying, "When you get sideswiped like that [by her husband's illness], it's an obvious trigger for your balance to be a little bit off - not sleeping, worry, stress. It's a classic trigger. When Michael was diagnosed with cancer I really thought, 'You are going to have to wipe me off the floor. This happens to people all the time, but it's still a huge shock when the cards start to fall and you realize, 'My God, it really is happening to us.' "I thought I didn't have the [emotional] tools to cope. But it's amazing where the strength comes from - from family and friends, from strangers supporting us."
Different people respond to different treatments. There’s a number of types of therapy which you can try and see which suits you best.
Family-focused therapy is a good way to work with your family so that they understand your disorder and can be a support system for you. Interpersonal therapy is another option. Interpersonal therapy focuses on relationship issues you may have with your friends and family and help you deal with them. Social rhythm therapy can help you to establish routines which support your illness such as regular eating, sleeping and exercise patterns.
Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT therapy) is a talking therapy which helps you to challenge and change negative thoughts and behaviours. CBT therapy is something which you can work through with a therapist or you can select computerised cognitive behavioural therapy (CCBT.) Mood Control and Blues Begone are two examples of Computerized CBT which you can undertake in your own home. CCBT can be a great self help choice if you want to begin therapy immediately or can’t afford to pay for therapy.
Bipolar Depression Treatment: Complementary therapies
If you are searching for alternative depression treatments for your bipolar disorder, there are complementary therapies that you can also incorporate in to your treatment plan if you find them helpful.
Acupuncture can help some people to reduce their symptoms of depression and mania. Meditation is a useful practice that helps you to become in tune with your body and to live within the present. Another useful therapy is light and dark therapy. It helps to regulate biological rhythms to restore sleep-wake cycles.