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Many scientists study the possible causes of this disorder and most agree that there is no one cause but rather, many pieces of a puzzle which fit together to make the illness appear or increase the risk that the person with these pieces may be diagnosed at some point.
There are a ton of technological advances in helping to improve the genetic research on Bipolar disorder.
Illnesses with similar symptoms such as depression and schizophrenia are being studied by scientists to find the genetic differences that may help to increase a person’s risk for being diagnosed with Bipolar disorder.
To research further, brain-imaging tools, like the Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) and Positron Emission Tomography (PET), give the researchers an opportunity to take images of the brain at work.
Some of these studies show how brain’s of those diagnosed with Bipolar disorder may be different from brains of people who are deemed healthy or to differentiate other mental disorder. The pre-frontal cortex in the brain seems to be smaller and have less function than that of adults who are not diagnosed as Bipolar disorder. One missed connection in the brain regions may cause problems forming memories, learning, and emotional issues. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) provide the guidelines which help doctors diagnose this disorder.
Bipolar I Disorder—defined by manic or mixed episodes that last at least seven days, or by manic symptoms that are so severe that the person needs immediate hospital care. Bipolar II Disorder—defined by a pattern of depressive episodes and hypomanic episodes, but no full-blown manic or mixed episodes.
Bipolar Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (BP-NOS)—diagnosed when symptoms of the illness exist but do not meet diagnostic criteria for either bipolar I or II. A Bipolar disorder diagnosis can be carried out by a doctor or other health care provider after a physical examination, conversation with patient, and medical tests. If those who have Bipolar disorder are left untreated and or undiagnosed,symptoms can worsen causing any episodes to be closer together and more problematic over time.
People who are Bipolar are more likely to have substance abuse issues, although no one can explain why. Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), anxiety problems and social phobia can also happen at the same time with people who have Bipolar disorder.
The above listed illnesses may cause those suffering with Bipolar disorder to have symptoms of mania or depression or they may be, in part, due to the treatment for this disorder. Treatment for this is just like any other life-long medical issue and requires you to work with your doctor and talk about how you really feel. There is not only one type of medication which can help with the symptoms of Bipolar disorder and it may take a while for you and your health professional to find the one which works. This daily record of life events may help you and your doctor to keep track and manage your illness better. Never be afraid to look up information on any drug which you are prescribed to ensure their side effects and to ensure they are the right treatment for your illness.
When taking lithium, your doctor should check the levels of lithium in your blood regularly, and will monitor your kidney and thyroid function as well.
Because too much or too little thyroid hormone can lead to mood and energy changes, it is important that your doctor check your thyroid levels carefully. Olanzapine (Zyprexa), which when given with an antidepressant medication, may help relieve symptoms of severe mania or psychosis. Quetiapine (Seroquel), risperidone (Risperdal) and ziprasidone (Geodon) also are prescribed to relieve the symptoms of manic episodes. If you are taking these medications, don’t drive until you have adjusted to your medication. In rare cases, long-term use of atypical antipsychotic drugs may lead to a condition called tardive dyskinesia (TD). However, taking only an antidepressant can increase your risk of switching to mania or hypomania, or of developing rapid-cycling symptoms. Women with Bipolar disorder who are pregnant or may become pregnant face special challenges.
Lithium is generally the preferred mood-stabilizing medication for pregnant women with Bipolar disorder. Antidepressants are safe and popular, but some studies have suggested that they may have unintentional effects on some people, especially in adolescents and young adults. When done in combination with medication, psychotherapy can be an effective treatment for bipolar disorder. When medication and psychotherapy does not work, Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT), may be beneficial. This form of treatment may be necessary when other medical conditions make the use of the medications too risky, like pregnancy for instance.
People with bipolar disorder should discuss possible benefits and risks of ECT with an experienced doctor they trust. Sleep Medications — Some people with bipolar disorder who have trouble sleeping usually sleep better after getting treatment for bipolar disorder, however, if their sleeplessness does not improve, the doctor may suggest a change in medications. It’s important to tell your doctor all medications you are taking including all prescriptions, over-the-counter and or supplements which, when taken with certain medications and supplements, may cause unwanted or dangerous side effects. Today there are studies being conducted which are having some very positive clinical outcomes. If you or someone you know has Bipolar disorder, remember to look after you first and everyone after. If you or someone you know is suffering from severe depression and or has suicidal thoughts, please contact your law enforcement’s emergency number.
It’s very interesting and quite the paradox that the very drug that is SUPPOSED to help relieve the mood swings may cause the same thing?! One of the biggest decisions you’ll make when treating your bipolar disorder is choosing a therapist or psychiatrist to consult with as your mental health provider.
Here is how you can choose what mental health provider(s) you’ll need to best treat your bipolar disorder.
When choosing the type of mental health provider you need and when, take a look at your symptoms, your health insurance coverage and if you need medication for your bipolar disorder, which you most likely will as you can experience mood swings ongoing. Even if you don’t know at the beginning what type of mental health team you’ll need for your bipolar disorder therapy, you’ll find out what works for you along the way. It’s been several years since the mood stabilizer drug Seroquel, Quetiapine Fumarate, has been approved to treat bipolar disorder.
Seroquel offers long term maintenance of the mood disorder and is used alongside drugs such as lithium, which is discussed in the article The Pros, Cons and Side Effects of Lithium to Treat Bipolar Disorder. As with any bipolar disorder medication, consult your doctor if you are experiencing any of these negative Seroquel side effects. Abilify, Aripiprazole is an atypical antipsychotic medication often prescribed to treat mania and manic episodes in bipolar disorder. If your doctor suggests that you take Abilify, you may have a few questions on the side effects —positive and negative— of taking Abilify for bipolar disorder.
Xanax, also known by its generic name alprazolam, is an anti-anxiety medication from Pfizer.
Here is a list of the positives and negatives of using Xanax, alprazolam, medication for bipolar disorder. The drug Lamictal Lamotrigine is often used to treat bipolar disorder as a mood stabilizer. Medications for bipolar disorder are very problematic due to their side effects, compliance rates, and the consequences of taking them over a long period.
In turn, patients may be prescribed even more medications to counteract the side effects of the original one.

Alternately, others develop a reliance on bipolar medication. These drugs influence the brain and the central nervous system in order to improve mood, energy, sleep, and concentration.
Brain training with neurofeedback teaches the brain to create healthier patterns and maintain a more consistent state. This helps the person learn self-regulation, allowing them to achieve better mood stabilization.
Ed Hamlin, a neuropsychologist at the Pisgah Institute in North Carolina, reported an ongoing study of the use of neurofeedback in patients diagnosed as biopolar. Following neurofeedback training, patients were able to reduce medications and enjoy stability including increased daily functioning, improved relationships, better performance at work and school, and a dramatic reduction in hospitalizations. Bipolar clients can be very sensitive, and it’s not uncommon that, with just a few minutes of neurofeedback, these sensitive patients notice a shift in mood and become more calm.
A number of training sessions are necessary, and the number of sessions required differs from person to person depending on the complexity and severity of the disorder. Once the individual’s brain is strong enough, training can be stopped or reduced to occasional maintenance training. To learn more about how neurofeedback can help with bipolar or other mood disorders, please visit our Neurofeedback Provider List to see if we have a clinician listed near you.
In order to see results, a number of training sessions will be necessary; the number of sessions required differs from person to person, depending upon the complexity and severity of the disorder.
For most bipolar patients, reducing the use of medications is imperative, due to both the unpleasant side effects and the lack of feeling like themselves. If you are looking for a neurofeedback therapist, clinician, or provider, we have just launched our new, comprehensive Neurofeedback Provider List. One example of these advances is the launch of the Bipolar Disorder Phenome Database, funded in part by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). People with cyclothymia have episodes of hypomania as well as mild depression for at least 2 years.
Rapid cycling occurs when a person has four or more episodes of major depression, mania, hypomania, or mixed states, all within a year. The doctor or mental health professional should also talk to your close relatives or spouse about your symptoms and family medical history. In general, people with bipolar disorder continue treatment with mood stabilizers for years. The warning states that their use may increase the risk of suicidal thoughts and behaviors.
You may need to take thyroid medication, in addition to medications for bipolar disorder, to keep thyroid levels balanced.
Talk with your doctor or a pharmacist to make sure you understand signs of serious side effects for the medications you’re taking. It could lead to a condition called polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) in women who begin taking the medication before age 20. Fluoxetine (Prozac), paroxetine (Paxil), sertraline (Zoloft), and bupropion (Wellbutrin) are examples of antidepressants that may be prescribed to treat symptoms of bipolar depression. To prevent this switch, doctors usually require you to take a mood-stabilizing medication at the same time as an antidepressant. The FDA warning says that patients of all ages taking antidepressants should be watched closely, especially during the first few weeks of treatment. It can provide support, education, and guidance to people with bipolar disorder and their families. It helps enhance family coping strategies, such as recognizing new episodes early and helping their loved one. Psychoeducation can help you recognize signs of an impending mood swing so you can seek treatment early, before a full-blown episode occurs.
If the problems still continue, the doctor may prescribe sedatives or other sleep medications to help improve ability to sleep. John’s wort (Hypericum perforatum), often marketed as a natural antidepressant, may cause a switch to mania in some people with bipolar disorder while also making other medications less effective, including some antidepressant and anticonvulsant medications. For the best possible outcome for your mental health, be careful to choose a doctor that fits your needs. These mental health providers help to get to the root of issues and provide new ways of looking at things. Some people with bipolar disorder regular see both a psychiatrist and psychologist to meet their mental health needs.
Things to look for are high fever, sweating, change in heart rate or pulse as well as confusion and shaking. Anyone experiencing these side effects as well as a decrease in mood should contact their doctor for analysis and a possible adjustment in dosage.
Other less common side effects include stomach cramps, changes in sexual desire, increased thirst, constipation, diarrhea, vomiting and headache. Other side effects of Lamictal are headache, dizziness, sleepiness, vomiting, insomnia, double vision and lack of coordination. It is a antimanic agent that works by decreasing abnormal activity in the brain that causes episodes of manic-depressive disorders.
One is more common and only needs to be taken up with a doctor if they become severe or prolonged. Not only are there a lot of different side effects, but they vary and can be extreme and possibly fatal.
Unfortunately, the brain starts to rely on the medication to regulate those issues and does not learn how to cope on its own. Of the more than 40 patients studied, many had a history of being frequently hospitalized for bipolar disorder.
Some patients, who had been medicated for 20 years and told that they would be on medications for their entire lives, were able to safely become medication-free. As stability becomes the dominant pattern in the brain, most clients can begin to reduce neurofeedback training as well as medications (with their doctor’s supervision).
A special computer system measures brain patterns and rewards the brain for making healthier, more stable patterns.
Once the individual’s brain is strong enough, training can stop or be reduced to occasional maintenance training.
However, the symptoms do not meet the diagnostic requirements for any other type of bipolar disorder. Rapid cycling seems to be more common in people who have their first bipolar episode at a younger age. People taking anticonvulsant medications for bipolar or other illnesses should be monitored closely for new or worsening symptoms of depression, suicidal thoughts or behavior, or any unusual changes in mood or behavior. Low thyroid function, called hypothyroidism, has been associated with rapid cycling in some people with bipolar disorder, especially women. If extremely bothersome or unusual side effects occur, tell your doctor as soon as possible. PCOS can cause obesity, excess body hair, an irregular menstrual cycle, and other serious symptoms. The shot is often used for urgent treatment of agitation associated with a manic or mixed episode.
Your doctor should monitor your weight, glucose levels, and lipid levels regularly while you are taking these medications. But stopping medications, either suddenly or gradually, greatly increases the risk that bipolar symptoms will recur during pregnancy. In addition, women need to know that most bipolar medications are passed on through breast milk. Possible side effects to look for are depression that gets worse, suicidal thinking or behavior, or any unusual changes in behavior such as trouble sleeping, agitation, or withdrawal from normal social situations.

Usually done in a group, psychoeducation may also be helpful for family members and caregivers. Omega-3 fatty acids (most commonly found in fish oil) have been measured for their usefulness for long-term treatment of bipolar disorder resulting in mixed study results. A psychiatric can talk with you about the types of bipolar medications you’ll need to keep your mood disorder in check.
The way you schedule your appointments depends on your specific needs and the frequency you feel you need bipolar disorder therapy.
The good thing about Seroquel is that is used to manage both bipolar disorder depression and bipolar disorder mania.
Patients that take Seroquel see the benefits of more sleep, less sadness and better judgment. While one may not personally desire taking medication daily, Seroquel is only taken once each day. Bipolar patients are urged to be patient when starting Seroquel medication as it can take several weeks to fully stabilizer a person.
Some bipolar patients taking Seroquel have reported a rise in cholesterol levels, triglycerides as well as weight gain.
Some have reported high blood sugar and diabetes with Seroquel XR, Seroquel and similar medications. For many bipolar patients that take Abilify, the manic symptoms of bipolar disorder are improved within several days. While Abilify is known to relief manic bipolar episodes, it also helps reduce the instance of manic relapse.
During a clinical trial of Abilify, both those receiving the bipolar medication and the placebo had the same experiences regarding cholesterol and blood level. This medication is known to make a small percentage of bipolar disorder patient feel sleepy. A very small percentage of people taking Abilify experience a minor gain in weight while on the bipolar medication. It is a benzodiazepine sometimes used to alleviate anxiety and sleeping difficulties for bipolar patients.
Anxiety can coexist with bipolar disorder as mentioned in this previous article: Bipolar Disorder and Panic Attacks.
While it helps with anxiety, some people experience depression while taking this medication.
Doctors advise pregnant women not to take this anti-anxiety medication because of the high risk of birth defects to a fetus. Check with your doctor if you experience any of these negative side effects while taking this medication. For those looking for relief from bipolar depression and bipolar mania, Lamictal can help keep mood swings at bay for longer periods of time. You may want to consider Lamictal if you’re looking for a long-term bipolar medication solution since there is currently no cure for bipolar disorder.
Since there is not need for blood monitoring with Lamictal, this cuts down on the number of doctors visits needed. Those that experience rash with this bipolar medication may be affected within the first two months of starting Lamictal.
The other type of side effects are the ones that are instantly considered severe and the individual should see a doctor immediate, these are the ones that risk the life of the patient.
However, I have seen the family member that has taken this medicine both on and off of it and it is a complete difference in their demeanor and overall health.
As brain functioning improves during their course of neurofeedback sessions, a neurofeedback practitioner can constantly fine-tune the training to help maintain and build on these gains, even within a single session.
With sufficient practice and training, the brain learns to make these healthier patterns on its own.
However, as neurofeedback training builds stability, most doctors are willing to reduce medications as they observe the increased stability in their patients. One study found that people with rapid cycling had their first episode about 4 years earlier—during the mid to late teen years—than people without rapid cycling bipolar disorder. It was the first mood stabilizer approved by the FDA in the 1970’s for treating both manic and depressive episodes. If you take any of these medications, do not make any changes to your dosage without talking to your doctor. Olanzapine can be used as maintenance treatment as well, even when psychotic symptoms are not currently present. Some people with TD recover partially or fully after they stop taking the drug, but others do not.
The FDA has also issued warnings about the potential risks associated with the use of antipsychotic medications during pregnancy. Bipolar patients with diabetes, risk of diabetes and obesity should ask that a doctor check blood sugar levels before starting treatment with Seroquel. Wait until you know how this medication affects you before you drive or operate hazardous machinery. The biggest benefit of taking Xanax is that it is expected to greatly reduce the instances of anxiety in bipolar disorder.
The only way that it can be prescribed to a pregnant woman is if the risk of going without the medication is greater than using it.
GlaxoSmithKline, the company that produces this bipolar medication, states that 37 percent of patients that received the drug did not need additional bipolar treatment for mood episodes over a course of a year.
Symptoms of these problems are weakness, fatigue, severe muscle pain, unusual bruising or bleeding and frequent infections. When this person is not taking the Lithium they are severely depressed and manic (happy) all the time. And, as stability becomes the dominant pattern in the brain, most clients can begin to reduce neurofeedback training as well.
If you are pregnant or nursing, talk to your doctor about the benefits and risks of all available treatments. Some symptoms to look for regarding high blood sugar or diabetes are excessive thirst or hunger, weakness, increased urination. Not only is it used to treat dipolar but it can also be coupled with other medications to treat certain blood disorders, schizophrenia, disordered impulse control, and in some cases certain mental illnesses found in children. There is rarely an in between in these moods, and were almost frightening whether it was the depressed or ecstatic mood. Once my family member was prescribed the Lithium and began to take it, their mood became stabilized and they were their old self again. Without the medication this person began to frighten me, with it everything was back to normal and they were stabilized and okay. Even though there are so many side effects, and drastic ones as well, having seen what the medication can do it is, in my opinion, well worth the possibility of having these side effects. The results from this medication are amazing, and well worth the risk and a shot to help the individual stabilize their mood and decrease the abnormal activity in the brain that causes these reactions and extremes in mood.

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