1. Treatment

Psychiatry and Medications

Far and away the most important topics for people with bipolar disorder are diagnosis (by a qualified psychiatrist), and the prescription of medications, particularly the anti-psychotics.

Medications are complicated. They do not work the same way for all people. They also have negative side effects. It’s best to cooperate with your psychiatrist, as it may take awhile for the correct combination and dosages to be sorted out. Furthermore, bipolar is, by definition, a changing condition, so if you stay in regular contact with your psychiatrist, he or she will be able to help you monitor your medications, dosages, and side effects.

Psychologists and Counselors

Counselors can be as varied as their patients. If you are able to afford counseling, make sure that your counselor and their methods are a good match with your personality.

Some counselors follow more traditional methods, such as discussing your past with you, teaching you how to breathe properly, ensuring that your sleep and diet habits are ideal, and exploring mindfulness techniques and acceptance.

Other counselors will focus more on Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.

Some counselors will integrate your faith and values with their therapy, whether they be Christian values or Eastern/Buddhist ideas.

Group Therapy

Group therapy may or may not be suitable for you.

Group therapy focuses on educating individuals on techniques such as rational thinking and mindfulness, but these concepts are explored in the context of group activities and conversations. You will likely be expected to share with the group, and to offer feedback to other group members.

Diet and Lifestyle

Sleep, schedule, excercise and nutrition (including vitamins and minerals) are important for all people, but perhaps most important for people suffering with bipolar disorder.

Ironically, these are things that you are probably already neglecting because of your bipolar disorder.

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The Psyc Ward

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Alternative Therapy

EMDR, etc.

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2. Practical Living


Number of hours per week, flexibility, disability, situations requiring assistance or accountability, etc.

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Bipolar depression causes a debilitating lack of motivation. Sometimes, you may not feel motivated to get out of bed, to empty the dishwasher, or to go to the mailbox.

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3. Self-Management


Strong faith can bring purpose and meaning to every circumstance and event in our lives, whether negative or positive. For example, as a philosopher, you might come to the realization that all your labors are meaningless, because you are going to die and someone else is going to profit from your labors. (See the book of Ecclesiastes and a commentary on chapter 2.)

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Strong relationships with a handful of family and friends will provide for your human need for community, and it will also provide you with a support network–a group of people who understand your circumstances, are able to notice symptoms, and are able to hold you accountable.

Be careful about who you disclose your illness with. Some people will gossip; others will never understand; and some will be triggered by a jealousy over your illness and a need to “out-sick” you. Remember that you aren’t the only person with problems. Your disclosure could expose a harmful weakness in another.

Caring for social pets can also be helpful.

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Harm Reduction

Innocuous versus harmful behaviors, etc.

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Non-Conventional Treatment

Random herbs, meditation, yoga, acupuncture, etc.

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My psychiatrist said that (I think) 2/3 of people with bipolar disorder abuse alcohol in an ironic attempt to self-medicate. The problem with alcohol is that it works, for the moment, but it adds to the manic “lack of judgment” problem and in the long-term it exacerbates your symptoms, especially depression and anxiety.

Whereas marijuana acts on the endocannabinoid system of our brain, and anti-psychotics act on the dopamine pathways, alcohol affects every neuron in our brain (see the GABA neurotransmitter).

Marijuana / Medical Cannabis

When used in a healthy manner (for example, when baked and vaped instead of sucking the carcinogenic ashes of a joints or shatter) under a doctor’s supervision, cannabis may benefit adults with Bipolar Disorder in tremendous ways, improving their mood while increasing their judgment. *Caution: A lot of research shows the potential for serious brain damage in people who use cannabis in any form under age 25.


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4. Comorbidity


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