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Treatments for Bipolar Disorder

En Español (Spanish Version)

Main Page | Risk Factors | Symptoms | Diagnosis | Treatment | Screening | Reducing Your Risk | Talking to Your Doctor | Living With Bipolar Disorder | Resource Guide

Even if your symptoms of bipolar disorder are severe, mood swings and other symptoms can become stable with treatment. Bipolar disorder is a recurrent illness. Long-term treatment is strongly recommended to prevent future episodes. The best plan is one that combines medicine and psychosocial treatment to manage the disorder over time.

Bipolar disorder is best controlled when treatment is continuous. However, even when there are no breaks in treatment, mood changes can occur and should be reported to your doctor right away. Your doctor may be able to prevent a full episode by adjusting to your treatment plan. Work closely with your doctor and talk opening about treatment concerns and options. This can make a difference in how well treatment works.

Keep a chart of daily mood symptoms, treatments, sleep patterns, and life events. This may help you and your family understand the illness better. This chart also can help your doctor track and treat the illness most effectively.

Treatment will include:

  • Medications to stabilize mood
  • Diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions that appear to be bipolar disorder, such as abnormal thyroid function or kidney failure
  • Psychotherapy
  • Counseling to provide you and your family with support, education, and guidance
  • Possible electroconvulsive therapy in severe cases

Treatment involves the following:

Medications | Other treatments | Lifestyle changes | Alternative and complementary therapies



  • Bipolar disorder. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: Updated August 15, 2013. Accessed September 4, 2013.
  • Bipolar disorder in adults. National Institute of Mental Health website. Available at: Updated 2012. Accessed September 4, 2013.
  • DSM-5. American Psychiatric Association website. Available at: Accessed September 4, 2013.
  • Miklowitz DJ, Scott J. Psychosoical treatments for bipolar disorder: cost effectiveness, mediating mechanisms, and future directions. Bipolar Disord. 200911 Suppl 2:110-122.
  • Price AL, Marzani-Nissen GR. Bipolar disorders: a review. Am Fam Physician. 2012;85(5):483-493.

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