What Are Common Bipolar Medications? And What Other Treatment Options Should You Consider?

Bipolar disorder is a complex condition. As a kind of mood disorder, bipolar disorder can have a major impact on the way you feel. You may experience extreme shifts in your mood, often cycling between highs and lows. If you experience these symptoms, finding the right treatment is important. Want to understand more about bipolar medication and its alternatives? It can help to start at the beginning and learn about bipolar disorder.

Bipolar disorder is not actually one condition. Typically, people with bipolar disorder are diagnosed with bipolar type 1 or bipolar type 2. With bipolar type 1, you may experience extreme depressive and manic cycles. During a depressive cycle, you might feel a loss of interest in your usual hobbies and experience feelings of hopelessness. During a manic cycle, you might feel highly energetic and impulsive. This can lead to irritability and dangerous risky behavior. Bipolar type 2 has similar cycles with one main difference. Instead of mania, people with type 2 bipolar disorder experience hypomania. While this can still boost energy levels, it typically does not come with the more extreme symptoms of mania. Many see hypomania as a milder kind of mania. Understanding the nuances of your mental health is important when it comes to treatment. When looking into bipolar treatments, finding something that meets your specific needs can be key to success.

Common bipolar medications

  • Mood stabilizers — Mood stabilizer medications are designed to reduce the intensity of mood cycles. These can help make manic episodes less frequent and sometimes have a positive impact on depressive symptoms. Lithium is one example of a common mood stabilizer. Like other mood stabilizers, lithium is meant to help reduce further episodes of mania and depression. Mood stabilizers can come with side effects. This makes it important to only take the recommended dosage of any prescribed mood stabilizers.
  • Neuroleptic medications — If you have bipolar disorder, you may have been prescribed neuroleptic medications at some point in the past. These treatments are commonly used for a range of mental health symptoms including mania, agitation and hyperactivity. In some cases, these are used in conjunction with mood stabilizers. One common atypical neuroleptic is Aripiprazole, sometimes called by brand names like Abilify.
  • Antidepressants — Other medications often focus on the manic aspect of bipolar disorder. Finding effective treatment for your depressive episodes is important as well, though. This is where antidepressants can come in. One of the main antidepressant categories is selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs. These treatments affect the chemicals in your brain with the goal of reducing depressive symptoms. For people with bipolar disorder, antidepressants should be used with caution. In some cases, these treatments can increase the risk of manic episodes. This is why they are often prescribed alongside mood stabilizers.

Top alternative bipolar treatment options 

  • Psychotherapy — Psychotherapy is one of the most popular treatment options for bipolar disorder. Medications tend to only manage short-term symptoms. Psychotherapy, however, can lead to lasting improvement. A licensed clinical therapist can help you change negative thought patterns and behaviors. With process-based therapy (PBT), you can experience the benefits of many proven interventions integrated into one holistic strategy.
  • Residential Treatment — Do you need a supportive place where you can focus on your mental health needs? Residential Treatment might be the right choice for you. With frequent one-on-one therapy sessions and plenty of other treatment opportunities, residential care can be excellent for people who need intensive support in a relaxing space.
  • Virtual programs — Looking for accessible care? With online treatment, you can find treatment regardless of your location. If you need intensive treatment while staying at home, a Virtual Intensive Outpatient Program (vIOP) could be a great match. These intensive programs can involve several hours of programming each day. This enables you to receive intensive treatment that still accommodates your location and schedule.

Discover effective alternatives to bipolar medication at Lightfully

People with bipolar disorder often benefit from a multifaceted approach to treatment. In many cases, bipolar medication is not enough to meet an individual’s long-term needs. At Lightfully Behavioral Health, we understand that our clients are more than symptoms. Our holistic approach to treatment is built to ensure you receive personalized care. With our help, you can receive care that leads to lasting improvement.

Change is possible. When you’re ready to take the first step, reach out to our Admissions Concierge Team. We’ll take the next steps together, toward the fullest, brightest version of you.

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