10 Tips for Treating Bipolar Disorder

Living better with bipolar

Bipolar disorder can be treated with medication, therapy, and lifestyle changes, but sticking with treatment can be a challenge.

Unfortunately, bipolar disorder tends to get worse if you don’t get the proper care, says Carrie Bearden, PhD, an associate professor in the departments of psychiatry and biobehavioral sciences, and psychology at UCLA. “The episodes will only get more frequent and severe the longer their illness is untreated.”

The good news is that there are many things you can do that help. Here are 10 tips for keeping bipolar symptoms under control.

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Don’t skip meds

“[Medications] can help you live a much more normal life if you choose to take them,” says Cara Hoepner, a nurse practitioner who also has bipolar disorder. But it isn’t necessarily easy. Lithium is a commonly used drug, but it requires monitoring with blood tests to make sure the dose is correct, as higher levels can be toxic. And skipping doses of lithium or any drug due to side effects or other reasons can precipitate a relapse. There are ways to deal with side effects; some are even transient, lasting for only a week or two, says Hoepner.

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