Controlling Bipolar Disorder Is Not Impossible: Here’s How
Bipolar disorder symptoms can make a person feel out of control, but you can learn how to control bipolar symptoms, at least to some degree. Controlling bipolar symptoms is important because when you control these symptoms, you will feel more in control of your whole life.
How to Control Bipolar Depression Symptoms
Of course, the most research-supported way of controlling bipolar depression symptoms is to use conventional means including medication and psychotherapy. Severe depression should never be handled on your own. Severe depression can be an emergency and should always be treated by a doctor.
In other cases, though, while both medication and different types of psychotherapy are very useful in bipolar disorder treatment, there are additional things you can do to help control your bipolar disorder depression symptoms.
Options you can use include exercise, light manipulation and omega-3 fatty acid supplements (Natural Bipolar Treatments: Treatment of Bipolar Without Medication).
Exercise has recently become noted as an effective antidepressant. In fact, some studies suggest it is as effective as some traditional antidepressants. Additionally, while depression is known to cause brain shrinkage, exercise may reverse these effects. In short, while exercise can be very difficult for those experiencing bipolar depression, it can also be very useful.
Light therapy comes in three versions: dawn simulation, dark therapy and chronotherapy. The specifics of each therapy is beyond the scope of this article but can be found here:
Omega-3 fatty acid supplements can also help control bipolar disorder depression (Natural Herbs, Supplements for Bipolar Disorder). Note that omega-3 fatty acids will not help with bipolar mania or hypomania.
As with all antidepressant treatments, there is the risk of induction of mania, hypomania or rapid cycling. This is something always to watch out for and, particularly with light therapy, is the reason you should always check with your doctor before starting any treatment.
How to Control Bipolar Hypomania, Mania Symptoms
Full-blown mania is typically considered a psychiatric emergency so controlling bipolar mania on your own is not a good idea. To control bipolar mania, you will likely need a mood stabilizing medication long-term and possibly another medication short-term to treat the acute mania.
Bipolar mania is typically controlled by the following medications which are Food and Drug Administration approved for this indication:
- Valproate (Depakote)
- Carbamazepine extended release (Equetro)
- Aripiprazole (Abilify)
- Ziprasidone (Geodon)
- Risperidone (Risperdal)
- Asenapine (Saphris)
- Quetiapine (Seroquel)
- Chlorpromazine (Thorazine)
- Cariprazine (Vraylar)
- Olanzapine (Zyprexa)
Controlling bipolar mania or hypomania symptoms can also be done with psychotherapy. Types of psychotherapy that have evidence to help those with bipolar disorder are:
- Prodrome detection therapy – This therapy teaches you how to recognize a mood before it becomes a crisis. It focuses on an individual’s early mood episode symptoms.
- Psychoeducation – This therapy focuses on teaching you more about bipolar disorder and mental illness.
- Cognitive therapy – This therapy focuses on various aspects of healing stress and lifestyle management and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), among other things.
- Interpersonal/social rhythm therapy – This therapy focuses on relationships and life routines.
- Family-focused therapy – This therapy focuses on some of the above types of psychotherapy but for both the individual with bipolar and his or her family.
For more on bipolar therapy types, see Types of Bipolar Disorder Therapy and How Bipolar Therapy Helps.