Treatment of bipolar disorder

Bipolar disorder is a mental illness with a marked hereditary aspect, characterised by changes that are not in keeping with sufferer’s personality.

Treatment of bipolar disorder

The episodes of bipolar disorder are of a repetitive nature. Outside these episodes the pateint is entirely normal. The main aim of treatment is to return the patient to his normal nature, in other words to achieve a speedy recovery from the episodes of depression, mania/hypomania and to commence protective treatment in order to avoid recurrence of the episodes. If summarized, treatment can be regarded in two parts, acute treatment which aims at treating the attacks, and preventative subscription or preventative treatment which aims preventing recurrence of the attacks.

During the manic episodes which we see in bipolar disorder, patients are often hospitalized and given treatment in hospital. The reason for this is to prevent risky behaviour, but also the fact that often patients refuse or neglect the necessary treatment as they have no insight into their own condition. This period can vary from a few weeks to a few months. Antipsychotics and what are called mood regulators are used in the treatment. ECT can be used if necessary.

During the hypomania and depression episodes treatment is usually given on an outpatient basis. If there is a risk of suicide the patient has to be admitted to hospital in order to receive treatment. The treatment of a depression related with bipolar disorder requires a particularly skillful process, as unlike in depression unrelated to a bipolar disorder, in bipolar related depression the use of antidepressants carries the additional risk of causing a manic episode.

Outside these episodes, during healthy periods in the patient’s life, protective treatment in the form of mood regulators has to be applied for many years.