- Introduction: Bipolar Disorder
- What is bipolar disorder?
- What are the symptoms of bipolar disorder?
- How does bipolar disorder affect someone over time?
- What illnesses often co-exist with bipolar disorder?
- What are the risk factors for bipolar disorder?
- How is bipolar disorder diagnosed?
- How is bipolar disorder treated?
- What can people with bipolar disorder expect from treatment?
- How can I help a friend or relative who has bipolar disorder?
- Support for caregivers
- How can I help myself if I have bipolar disorder?
- Where can I go for help?
- What if I or someone I know is in crisis?
- For more information on bipolar disorder
What can people with bipolar disorder expect from treatment?
Bipolar disorder has no cure, but can be effectively treated over the long-term. It is best controlled when treatment is continuous, rather than on and off. In the STEP-BD study, a little more than half of the people treated for bipolar disorder recovered over one year's time. For this study, recovery meant having two or fewer symptoms of the disorder for at least eight weeks.
However, even with proper treatment, mood changes can occur. In the STEP-BD study, almost half of those who recovered still had lingering symptoms. These people experienced a relapse or recurrence that was usually a return to a depressive state.49 If a person had a mental illness in addition to bipolar disorder, he or she was more likely to experience a relapse.49 Scientists are unsure, however, how these other illnesses or lingering symptoms increase the chance of relapse. For some people, combining psychotherapy with medication may help to prevent or delay relapse.42
Treatment may be more effective when people work closely with a doctor and talk openly about their concerns and choices. Keeping track of mood changes and symptoms with a daily life chart can help a doctor assess a person's response to treatments. Sometimes the doctor needs to change a treatment plan to make sure symptoms are controlled most effectively. A psychiatrist should guide any changes in type or dose of medication.