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Don’t give up

Doctors will often have you try different doses and combinations of bipolar meds to find the right cocktail, Bearden says.

If your side effects are intolerable or a drug isn’t working, discuss your options; don’t just stop taking it.

“People often think that the doctor knows best and they shouldn’t question their treatment,” Bearden says. “But be a good consumer and take charge of your health.” Ask questions and know what symptoms a drug is supposed to be helping so you will know if it’s working.

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Steer clear of drugs and alcohol

About 50% of bipolar patients have a problem with substance abuse, Bearden says. This is one of the biggest challenges to getting good treatment outcomes.

Although you might feel alcohol helps you cope with depression, it may actually be contributing to sleep disturbances and mood changes.

Bearden says patients who abuse drugs and alcohol have poor cognitive functioning and a lower chance for a full recovery of mood symptoms.

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