treatment of bipolar disorer
are medications important?
by Jamal Ross
Bipolar disorder is a condition whereby someone’s mood and habits can swing form one pole to the next. On one pole, there is depression. On the other pole there is mania, which is a period of heightened activity, risk taking and poor choices that can lead to severe consequences. Over a lifetime bipolar disorder affects about 1-3% of the population worldwide. Bipolar begins around the age of 18 to 20 years and affects men and women equally. (1) Though bipolar disorder is not the most common psychological illness; when recognized, this condition does require treatment.
Bipolar disorder is treated differently than major depressive disorder. While exact cause of bipolar disorder is not known, there are thoughts that this condition results from a change in brain function. There are decreased connections to a section of the brain called the amygdala, which is involved in experiencing emotions. (1) Whereas mild major depression can be treated with therapy alone, bipolar disorder generally requires the use of a medication stabilize someone’s mood. The key is to use a medication that stabilizes one pole without switching to the symptoms of the other pole. In order words, it is our goal to treat the symptoms of mania without causing major depression. When mania is present, medications such as lithium, carbamazepine, valproate, aripiprazole, or quetiapine can be used. (2) The decision for which medication to use can be complex. Therefore, it is important to speak without your about any question regarding bipolar disorder and which medications are best.
Importantly, all those with bipolar disorder should receive therapy. Therapy helps provide education about this illness, recognize early symptoms, and develop a response plan when episodes of mania or major depression arise. Therapy can help with self-reflection and assist with adopting daily routines and being physically active. Therapy sessions are also a great time to reinforce the avoidance of activities that destabilize someone’s mood, such as alcohol, cannabis, and other drug abuse. (2)
In all, bipolar disorder is a serious condition that should not be underestimated or go unrecognized. The cornerstone of treatment for bipolar disorder is medications; this is because that cause of this condition is thought to be related to a change in brain structure. The goal of treatment is to stabilize someone’s mood. Therapy has a very important part to play in the treatment of bipolar disorder as well. Remember what 1 Corinthians 15:33 tells us, “Do not be misled” ‘Bad company corrupts good character.’” It is important to let the word of God keep you ground and stable. “Bad company,” harmful relationships and drugs use can fuel the fire of bipolar disorder. Do not be fooled. You need good people, good relationships and the guidance of God to keep your character decent and to make sure you steps are in order.
1. Bipolar disorder in adults: Epidemiology and pathogenesis. In: UpToDate, Keck P. and Solomon D. (Eds), UpToDate, Waltham, MA (Assessed November 5, 2022)
2. Bipolar major depression in adults: Choosing treatment. Bipolar disorder Unipolar in adults: Clinical features. In: UpToDate, Keck P. and Solomon D. (Eds), UpToDate, Waltham, MA (Assessed November 5, 2022)