How Is Bipolar Disorder Diagnosed and Treated?
Bipolar Disorder is difficult to diagnose because most of the time people are in a depressive phase. Usually people with bipolar disorder seek help when they are in the depressive phase of bipolar. The diagnosis is often missed because episodes of hypomania or mania are infrequent and last only days. The depressive episodes are more common and last much longer up to 90% of the time of the illness. People rarely seek help during the feel good hypomanic or manic phase. They get misdiagnoses as regular depression. Many people suffer for years because they are not are correctly diagnosed.
Mood stabilizing medications are usually the first choice to treat bipolar disorder. In general, people with bipolar disorder continue treatment with mood stabilizers for years. Bipolar medications are best prescribed by a psychiatrist.
Not everyone responds to medications in the same way. Several different medications may need to be tried before the best course of treatment is found.
Keeping a chart of daily mood symptoms, treatments, sleep patterns, and life events can help your psychiatrist track and treat the illness most effectively. Sometimes this is called a daily life chart. If a person’s symptoms change or if side effects become serious, the doctor may switch or add medications.
Like diabetes or heart disease, Bipolar Disorder is a long-term illness that must be carefully managed throughout a person’s life. An effective maintenance treatment plan includes medication and psychotherapy for preventing relapse and reducing symptom severity. Proper treatment helps most people with bipolar disorder gain better control of their mood.