Treatment for bipolar disorder

It’s crucial to seek help for bipolar disorder from a mental health professional, so that you don’t feel you’re in this alone. Find out about treatment for bipolar disorder and some of the different options. Also learn what to do when your treatment plan isn’t working.

This can help if:

  • you want to learn about treatments for bipolar disorder

  • you’re unsure if anyone can help

  • you don’t know what to expect when seeing a mental health professional.

Girl talking to counsellor

Why treatment plans are helpful

When bipolar disorder isn’t properly managed it can really interfere with your life, which can be distressing both for you and for others. It’s extremely hard to find effective ways to manage the symptoms of bipolar disorder on your own. The condition requires long-term management and treatment under the advice of a GP, psychiatrist or psychologist.

The right mental health professional will help you identify strategies that work for you, which will make managing changes in mood a lot easier. There are many people with bipolar disorder who are leading full and productive lives.

When considering a treatment plan, it’s important to remember the following:

  • Everyone’s experience of bipolar disorder, and therefore their treatment plan, will be different.

  • Long-term care from mental health professionals is crucial.

  • Finding the right treatment plan can take time.

Treatments for bipolar disorder

The two main treatment approaches are medication and psychological therapies:

  • Medication. Different medications such as mood stabilisers, anti-psychotics and anti-depressants can all be used to manage bipolar disorder. Check out the Black Dog Institute for more information. It’s really important to take medication as prescribed. It can be tempting to stop taking it if you start to feel better, but this is a sign that the medication is working and should be continued.

Most people are referred to a psychiatrist for medical treatment.

  • Psychological therapy. Psychological therapies such as cognitive behavioural therapy can help with managing day-to-day life. This might include identifying warning signs of mood changes, improving depression, and developing routines and sleep patterns.

Most people are referred to a psychologist for psychological therapy. Psychological therapy is usually undertaken in addition to medication.

If your treatment plan isn’t working

Sometimes it can take a while to work out a treatment plan that’s right for you. If this is the case, or if you haven’t been sticking to your treatment plan, it may be too difficult to manage your mood changes at home.

To keep you safe, and to provide you the best possible support, you could be admitted to hospital during more extreme episodes of mania or depression. This will allow mental health professionals to do a more detailed assessment and improve your treatment plan.

What can I do now?

  • Make an appointment with your GP as the first step to making a treatment plan.

  • Read more about self-help strategies for managing bipolar disorder.