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Bipolar Disorder: Keeping Tabs On Medications

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

Managing medication mishaps

Emphasizing the importance of medication and taking a direct role in ensuring all are being taken as directed often falls on a caregiver. People living with bipolar disorder, if off their medication, will not always be upfront and honest about it.

A caregiver must have a keen awareness of that personís baseline behavior, as well as triggers for relapse. Whether stress, substance abuse, seasonal changes, or positive medication reactions, each person will have their unique circumstances that promote symptoms of the disease. The less often a caregiver has to ask ďAre you off your meds?Ē the better everyone will be.

A caregiver should encourage a loved one to speak to their doctors about any side effects that might be bothering them. These can come on if a medication dose is too high or too low, and a small change may resolve the issue. The biggest mistake would be to stop the medication completely unless ordered by their physician, which someone with bipolar disorder may very likely do if not monitored closely. It often takes several tries to find the right balance, and a caregiver will need to bear the ups and downs along with the person receiving treatment during this time.

  1. The Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance offers these tips for managing bipolar disorder medications:

  2. Use a daily reminder/medication saver system to ensure a loved one is taking all the necessary medications.

  3. Throw away old medications or ones no longer being taken.

  4. Realize that all medications work best when a loved one is making other healthy choices. Medication alone wonít fix a bad diet, lack of exercise, or abusive or chaotic lifestyle.

A loved one should reduce the use of alcohol if applicable. It is a depressant and makes recovery even more challenging, while interfering with a medicationís intent.

Managing medications for a loved one with bipolar disorder requires a level of trust, education, the fostering of personal responsibility and sense of hope from all involved. When a caregiver and loved one work together, the outcome is much more likely to be a normal, healthy and happy life.


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