Bipolar Disorder Treatments

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Bipolar disorder is a chronic mental illness, meaning that there is no cure available. This necessitates life-long treatment to keep the disorder under control, usually with medication and often including therapy and educational sessions.

While there are certain treatments that are considered standard or front-line options for managing bipolar disorder, the most effective treatment plan is one that is tailored to the needs and lifestyle of the individual being treated. A treatment that works very well for one person may not help someone else; in fact, a treatment that was very effective for someone at one point in time may not be the best choice for that same person at a later date.


  • There are many medications prescribed for the treatment of bipolar disorder, and they can be combined in different ways. It is important to work with your doctor to devise a pharmacological treatment plan that is effective for you. This typically involves close monitoring of your medications and their effect. Dosage and medication adjustments may need to occur over a period of weeks or even months, as your body adjusts to the new drugs and they begin to work to relieve symptoms.


  • Cognitive behavioral therapy is a very common form of psychotherapy that is used to treat a variety of mental health conditions, including bipolar disorder. It is good at helping you identify triggers for episodes and learn coping strategies to minimize stressors. Other types of therapy used to treat bipolar disorder include family therapy, educational classes, group therapy, prodrome detection, and interpersonal and social rhythm therapy.

Other Treatments

  • Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), sometimes called electro-shock therapy, is sometimes used to treat bipolar disorder, particularly for episodes of severe depression.
  • In some instances, hospitalization is required, during which you will receive intensive treatments for mania or depression.
  • Learning how to regulate your lifestyle to minimize symptoms is often part of a larger treatment plan.

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