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Bipolar Disorder: Keeping Tabs On Medications

By Jennifer Bradley, Staff Writer
(Page 1 of 2)

The cornerstone of managing bipolar disorder (also known as manic depression) is medication management. It is also one of the most challenging tasks a caregiver can take on. Reaching a stabilization of the highs and lows that come with bipolar disorder takes time and patience. It also requires a strong relationship between caregiver and loved one, and the same bond with trusted medical professionals.

 Are they on or off their meds?

A question a caregiver for someone with bipolar disorder most likely will ask themselves often is “Are they on or off their meds?” Finding the right combination is the first hurdle to overcome, and the second is maintaining medications after the sense of normalcy returns. Many people living with bipolar disorder struggle more once they feel they can cope normally, forgetting the previous bouts of mania and depression.

 Even if a loved one is on a committed treatment plan, side effects or other bipolar symptoms may worsen. A caregiver should take action immediately if they notice any mood changes or other issues. Point out your concerns to your loved one first and then alert the physician. A swift intervention is key to preventing an episode of relapse from flaring out of control.  Once developed fully, a bipolar relapse can be dangerous as well as have long-term effects both physically and emotionally.

 Warning signs of a mania relapse include: sleeping less, elevated mood, restlessness, speaking rapidly, increase in activity level, and irritability or aggression.

 Depression symptoms include:  fatigue and lethargy, sleeping more, trouble concentrating, loss of interest in activities, withdrawing from others and change in appetite.

Helping a loved one understand that medication most likely will be a long-term commitment is critical to a successful plan. Whether through therapy or other complementary treatments, a loved one can develop an acceptance of their condition, as well as what it takes to maintain it. Any caregiver who has been through relapse after relapse will confirm that the benefits of treatment outweigh the negatives, especially for a loved one with bipolar disorder.


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