Medication, Therapy can Help Manage Manic, Depressive Episodes
Like many mental health diseases, bipolar disorder is often misunderstood, but with medication and counseling, it can be managed. A brain chemistry disorder causes bipolar patients to experience unusual shifts in mood, energy, activity levels and sleep.
Patients with bipolar disorder have typical depression symptoms, including feeling sad or hopeless, having little interest, loss of interest in things they enjoy, appetite changes, suicidal thoughts and difficulty concentrating. But patients with bipolar disorder also have mania symptoms, which include less sleep, more reckless behavior such as excessive spending or sex, increased irritability, heightened energy and feeling very up.
Mental health professionals diagnose a bipolar disorder by conducting a thorough health history and asking a variety of questions regarding the person’s moods. Patients with bipolar disorder are often misdiagnosed with depression since they don’t feel the need to disclose the manic symptoms. The manic episodes are the key difference between depression and bipolar disease, which is why they are so essential to mention to your medical provider. If someone is unsure he is having periods of mania, ask family and friends if they sometimes notice drastic mood changes.
Once diagnosed, patients are prescribed medication to treat both the depression and manic symptoms. Treating the depression and not the mania can lead to more frequent and intense mood changes. In addition to medication, patients with bipolar disorder should meet with a counselor to learn how to deal with mood changes and develop coping mechanisms.
Patients with bipolar disorder need to take their medication daily and for the rest of their lives to keep the disease under control. Some patients with bipolar disorder on medication think they are “better” so they stop taking it, which can lead to more frequent and intense manic and depression episodes.
A bipolar diagnosis is a serious mental health disease, but with proper treatment a patient can live a productive life.
Rachel Bresler is a mental health therapist with ThedaCare Behavioral Health.