The Diagnosis and Treatment of Bipolar Disorder
Being diagnosed with bipolar disorder doesn’t carry the stigma it did in the past when it was referred to a manic depression but it can still be scary. It can also be a relief as you finally have the answers as to why you have been suffering from those obsessive thoughts, panic attacks, unrelenting worries, phobias, OCD or one of the many other symptoms of this lifelong and debilitating condition.
Which Type Of Bipolar Are You Suffering From?
Few realise that there are actually two different kinds of bipolar disorder which are categorised by the extent of your behaviour.
Sufferers will have one or more separate manic episodes which may or may not be accompanied by a period of major depression. Depressive episodes are frequently one of the major symptoms of this disorder
Those who suffer from bipolar ll will experience recurring episodes of depression and mania
The Effects of living With Untreated Bipolar Disorder
As mentioned above bipolar is a lifelong disorder and is unpredictable regarding its ups and down. Left untreated this fluctuating pattern can have devastating effects on the sufferer. In particular those who suffer from the recurring episodes which characterise bipolar ll find it very difficult to lead stable and productive lives. During the manic phases they become irresponsible and hyperactive. During the episodes of major depression they will find it hard to function at all and feel as if they are on auto pilot. As episodes of mania can last, on average, from 3-6 months and periods of depression anywhere up to a year or longer early diagnosis and treatment is vital.
Even those suffering from the worst degree of bipolar can find respite thanks to the wide range of treatments now available. A combination of medication and therapy has been found to have the greatest effect but as with all mental health disorders finding the best medication for each individual can be a case of trial and error. Anti depressants, anticonvulsant and antipsychotic medications and beta blocks are often combined to help sufferers get through their worst periods.
Medication alone, without therapy, has been found to be ineffective in the long term treatment of bipolar disorder. Therapy should be undertaken from the outset as not only is it a vital area of treatment it is a viable asset during the period when you are trying different medications to find the one which works best for you.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy
Also known as CBT, this is referred to as the ‘talking therapy’. CBT helps suffers of bipolar disorder to manage their problems better by changing the way they think and behave. CBT does not cure bipolar, nothing can do that, instead it helps you deal with it in an altogether more positive manner. Its aim is to free you from that vicious circle you are trapped in by your own negative feelings and thoughts. It works on the premise that actions, feelings, thoughts and physical sensations are all connected and result in that feeling of helplessness.
CBT can help you to break that circle by taking those overwhelming problems and helping you to manage them in smaller chunks. By changing the negative pattern in which your thoughts process you will be improving the way you feel. Unlike many other therapies CBT deals with current problems as opposed to focussing on issues from the past. It looks at you as an individual and seeks out practical and achievable ways in which you can improve your own state of mind not only on a daily basis but in the long term.
By educating yourself on your disorder, communicating openly and honestly with both your therapist and doctor, make healthy choices regarding your lifestyle and sticking to your treatment plan you are giving yourself the best possible chance of being able to manage your bipolar. A strong support network is also important and sadly this is something many sufferers feel they are lacking.
You must also be realistic as even the best meds and therapy in the world will not help you overnight. Careful management and your own commitment to getting better is essential and only be employing both of these will you be able to get those symptoms under control and be able to live life to the full.
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