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Bipolar Disorder: Keeping Tabs On Medications
By Jennifer Bradley, Staff Writer
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
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.
The Depression and Bipolar Support
Alliance offers these tips for managing bipolar disorder
Use a daily reminder/medication saver system to ensure a
loved one is taking all the necessary medications.
Throw away old
medications or ones no longer being taken.
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.