Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Bipolar Disorder Part 7

This is the last in a series on bipolar disorder. We recently went over the medications used to treat this condition but now I would like to focus on what I call the "other two pillars" of treatment; avoidance of alcohol and substance abuse and management of stress and anxiety.

As I mentioned before the two main reasons that someone with bipolar disorder is not responding to treatment are they either are not taking their medication or there is a drug and/or alcohol problem. Over 50% of patients with bipolar disorder have some sort of a substance abuse problem and this must be dealt with for effective bipolar treatment to occur. Some people are sensitive to even small amounts of alcohol and even intermittent use can cause a problem with mood instability.

Handling stress and anxiety involves some simple things that are often overlooked. Deep breathing techniques are useful. Maintaining a regular sleep schedule and daily routines are good. Patients need to avoid periods of frenetic activity whether at work or home. Daily exercise is important as is good nutrition. Educating family members about bipolar disorder is needed. It is very useful to have a family member accompany the patient to medication follow-up appointment as they may notice early signs of mood disturbance, particularly mania which is not often recognized well by the patient. Learning to recognize early signs of mood disturbance is vital to ongoing recovery.. I always encourage my patients to learn as much as they can about the disorder. This is a lifelong disorder and there may be many different psychiatrists one could see over the course of a life. The only constant factor is the patient him/her self.

I hope this series on bipolar disorder has been helpful in some way. Again, any comments or questions are always welcomed.

Thought for the day

Compassion not judgment

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