If you are affected by
schizophrenia you may view the world differently
to those around you. You may hear, see, smell or
feel things that are not experienced by others
(hallucinations).
You may also find that you have confusing and
frightening thoughts, such as believing that
people are reading your mind, controlling your
thoughts or planning to harm you. These thoughts
may make you feel anxious and you may find that
they become so disordered that they scare you, or
those around you.
However, although schizophrenia can be upsetting
and frightening, this does not mean that your life
has to come to a stop. Approximately 1% of people
will develop schizophrenia at some point during
their life, meaning you are not alone in having the
condition. Just like anybody else who has a
long-term or recurring illness, you can learn to
manage your condition and live the life that
matters to you.
Schizophrenia typically first onsets during
adolescence and early adulthood, but it does
sometimes appear for the first time in people aged
over 40. Both men and women can develop
schizophrenia, with symptoms in men tending to
appear at a younger age.
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If you suspect that you’re suffering from bipolar disorder, seek
help right away. The earlier you catch bipolar disorder, the
better your chances of getting and staying well. An
experienced mental health professional can make an accurate
diagnosis and start you on the path to recovery. It may take
some time to find the treatments and therapies that work best
for you, but once you do, you’ll feel better. Effective treatment
for bipolar disorder can relieve symptoms, reduce the
frequency and intensity of manic and depressive episodes,
and restore your ability to function.

What you can do
1. Learn how to get an accurate diagnosis
2. Understand the difference between bipolar disorder
and depression
3. Learn about your treatment options
4. Understand why therapy is recommended as an
addition to medication
5. Learn more about bipolar disorder by reading the
related articles
What are the bipolar disorder treatment basics?                        
Bipolar disorder is a lifelong condition. It runs an
unpredictable course of ups and downs. When left untreated,
these ups and downs can be devastating. The recurring manic
and depressive episodes that characterize the disease make it
difficult to lead a stable, productive life. In the manic phase,
you may be hyperactive and irresponsible. In the depressive
phase, it may be difficult to do anything at all. Early diagnosis
and treatment can help you avoid these problems.
Successful treatment of bipolar disorder depends on a
combination of factors. Medication alone is not enough. In
order to get the most out of treatment, it’s important to
educate yourself about the illness, communicate with your
doctors and therapists, have a strong support system, help
yourself by making healthy lifestyle choices that may reduce
your need for medication. Stick to your treatment plan
reassessing with your doctor as changes in your life occur.
Recovering from bipolar disorder doesn’t happen overnight. As
with the mood swings of bipolar disorder, treatment has its
own ups and downs. Finding the right treatments takes time
and setbacks happen. But with careful management and a
commitment to getting better, you can get your symptoms
under control and live fully.

 

 

What can I do to help me feel better ?                        
Know the difference between your symptoms and your
true self . Your health care providers can help you
separate your true identity from your symptoms by
helping you see how your illness affects your behavior .
Be open about behaviors you want to change and set
goals for making those changes .
Educate your family and involve them in treatment when
possible. They can help you spot symptoms, track
behaviors , and gain perspective. They can also give
encouraging feedback and help you make a plan to cope
with any future crises .
Work on healthy lifestyle choices. Recovery is also about
a healthy lifestyle, which includes staying physically
active , regular sleep , eating to promote brain health , and
the avoidance of alcohol, drugs, and risky behavior .
Find the treatment that works for you . Talk to your health
care provider about your medications’ effects on you ,
especially the side effects that bother you . There are
many options for you to try . It is very important to talk
to your health care provider first before you make any
changes to your medication or schedule .
Source: Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance
Getting an accurate diagnosis
Getting an accurate diagnosis is the first step in bipolar
disorder treatment. This isn’t always easy. The mood swings
of bipolar disorder can be difficult to distinguish from other
problems such as major depression, ADHD, and borderline
personality disorder. For many people with bipolar disorder, it
takes years and numerous doctor visits before the problem is
correctly identified and treated.
Making the diagnosis of bipolar disorder can be tricky even for
trained professionals, so it’s best to see a psychiatrist with
experience treating bipolar disorder rather than a family doctor
or another type of physician. A psychiatrist specializes in
mental health, and is more likely to know about the latest
research and treatment options. For help finding psychiatrists,
psychologists, and other mental health professionals in your
community, see Resources section below.
What to expect during the diagnostic exam
A diagnostic exam for bipolar disorder generally consists of
the following:
Psychological evaluation – The doctor or bipolar disorder
specialist will conduct a complete psychiatric history. You will
answer questions about your symptoms, the history of the
problem, any treatment you’ve previously received, and your
family history of mood disorders.
Medical history and physical – There are no lab tests for
identifying bipolar disorder, but your doctor should conduct a
medical history and physical exam in order to rule out
illnesses or medications that might be causing your
symptoms. Screening for thyroid disorders is particularly
important, as thyroid problems can cause mood swings that
mimic bipolar disorder.
In addition to taking your psychiatric and medical history,
your doctor may talk to family members and friends about
your moods and behaviors. Often, those close to you can give
a more accurate and objective picture of your symptoms.
Are your symptoms caused by something else?
There are several types of bipolar disorder. Each type is
identified by the pattern of episodes of mania and depression.
The treatment that is best for you may differ depending on the
type of bipolar disorder you have. Your doctor will look
carefully to determine where your symptoms fit.
Bipolar I Disorder ( mania and depression) – Bipolar I disorder
is the classic form of the illness, as well as the most severe
type of bipolar disorder. It is characterized by at least one
manic episode or mixed episode. The vast majority of people
with bipolar I disorder have also experienced at least one
episode of major depression, although this isn’t required for
diagnosis.
Bipolar II Disorder (hypomania and depression) – Mania is not
involved in bipolar II disorder. Instead, the illness involves
recurring episodes of major depression and hypomania, a
milder form of mania. In order to be diagnosed with bipolar II
disorder, you must have experienced at least one hypomanic
episode and one major depressive episode in your lifetime. If
you ever have a manic episode, your diagnosis would be
changed to bipolar I disorder.
Cyclothymia (hypomania and mild depression) – Cyclothymia
is a milder form of bipolar disorder. Like bipolar disorder,
cyclothymia consists of cyclical mood swings. However, the
highs and lows are not severe enough to qualify as either
mania or major depression. To be diagnosed with
cyclothymia, you must experience numerous periods of
hypomania and mild depression over at least a two-year time
span. Because people with cyclothymia are at an increased
risk of developing full-blown bipolar disorder, it is a condition
that should be monitored and treated.
Is it bipolar disorder or depression?                        
Bipolar disorder is commonly misdiagnosed as depression
since most people with bipolar disorder seek help when
they’re in the depressive stage of the illness. When they’re in
the manic stage, they don’t recognize the problem. What’s
more, most people with bipolar disorder are depressed a much
greater percentage of the time than they are manic or
hypomanic.
Being misdiagnosed with depression is a potentially
dangerous problem because the treatment for bipolar
depression is different than for regular depression. In fact,
antidepressants can actually make bipolar disorder worse. So
it’s important to see a mood disorder specialist who can help
you figure out what’s really going on.

Indicators that your depression is really bipolar disorder                        
You’ ve experienced repeated episodes of major
depression
You had your first episode of major depression before
age 25
You have a first – degree relative with bipolar disorder
When you ‘ re not depressed , your mood and energy
levels are higher than most people’ s
When you ‘ re depressed , you oversleep and overeat
Your episodes of major depression are short (less
than 3 months )
You’ ve lost contact with reality while depressed
You’ ve had postpartum depression before
You’ ve developed mania or hypomania while taking
an antidepressant
Your antidepressant stopped working after several
months
Source: PhschEducation.org
Exploring bipolar disorder treatment options
If your doctor determines that you have bipolar disorder, he or
she will explain your treatment options and possibly prescribe
medication for you to take. You may also be referred to
another mental health professional, such as a psychologist,
counselor, or a bipolar disorder specialist. Together, you will
work with your healthcare providers to develop a personalized
treatment plan.
Comprehensive treatment for bipolar disorder
A comprehensive treatment plan for bipolar disorder aims to
relieve symptoms, restore your ability to function, fix problems
the illness has caused at home and at work, and reduce the
likelihood of recurrence.
A comprehensive bipolar treatment plan involves:
Medication – Medication is the cornerstone on bipolar
disorder treatment. Taking a mood stabilizing medication
can help minimize the highs and lows of bipolar disorder
and keep symptoms under control.
Psychotherapy – Therapy is essential for dealing with
bipolar disorder and the problems it has caused in your
life. Working with a therapist, you can learn how to cope
with difficult or uncomfortable feelings, repair your
relationships, manage stress, and regulate your mood.
Education – Managing symptoms and preventing
complications begins with a thorough knowledge of your
illness. The more you and your loved ones know about
bipolar disorder, the better able you’ll be to avoid
problems and deal with setbacks.
Lifestyle management – By carefully regulating your
lifestyle, you can keep symptoms and mood episodes to a
minimum. This involves maintaining a regular sleep
schedule, avoiding alcohol and drugs, following a
consistent exercise program, minimizing stress, and
keeping your sunlight exposure stable year round.
Support – Living with bipolar disorder can be challenging,
and having a solid support system in place can make all
the difference in your outlook and motivation. Participating
in a bipolar disorder support group gives you the
opportunity to share your experiences and learn from
others who know what you’re going through. The support
of friends and family is also invaluable. Reaching out to
people who love you won’t mean you’re a burden to
others.

Medication treatment for bipolar disorder                        
Most people with bipolar disorder need medication in order to
keep their symptoms under control. When medication is
continued on a long-term basis, it can reduce the frequency
and severity of bipolar mood episodes, and sometimes prevent
them entirely.
If you have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, you and
your doctor will work together to find the right drug or
combination of drugs for your needs. Because everyone
responds to medication differently, you may have to try
several different medications before you find one that relieves
your symptoms.
Check in frequently with your doctor. It’s important to have
regular blood tests to make sure that your medication levels
are in the therapeutic range. Getting the dose right is a
delicate balancing act. Close monitoring by your doctor will
help keep you safe and symptom-free.
Continue taking your medication, even if your mood is stable.
Don’t stop taking your medication as soon as you start to feel
better. Most people need to take medication long-term in
order to avoid relapse.
Don’t expect medication to fix all your problems. Bipolar
disorder medication can help reduce the symptoms of mania
and depression, but in order to feel your best, it’s important
to lead a lifestyle that supports wellness. This includes
surrounding yourself with supportive people, getting therapy,
and getting plenty of rest.
Be extremely cautious with antidepressants. Research shows
that antidepressants are not particularly effective in the
treatment of bipolar depression. Furthermore, they can trigger
mania or cause rapid cycling between depression and mania
in people with bipolar disorder.
The importance of therapy for bipolar disorder                        
Research indicates that people who take medications for
bipolar disorder are more likely to get better faster and stay
well if they also receive therapy. Therapy can teach you how
to deal with problems your symptoms are causing, including
relationship, work, and self-esteem issues. Therapy will also
address any other problems you’re struggling with, such as
substance abuse or anxiety.
Three types of therapy are especially helpful in the
treatment of bipolar disorder:
1. Cognitive- behavioral therapy
2. Interpersonal and social rhythm therapy
3. Family – focused therapy
Cognitive-behavioral therapy                        
In cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), you examine how your
thoughts affect your emotions. You also learn how to change
negative thinking patterns and behaviors into more positive
ways of responding. For bipolar disorder, the focus is on
managing symptoms, avoiding triggers for relapse, and
problem-solving.
Interpersonal and social rhythm therapy                        
Interpersonal therapy focuses on current relationship issues
and helps you improve the way you relate to the important
people in your life. By addressing and solving interpersonal
problems, this type of therapy reduces stress in your life.
Since stress is a trigger for bipolar disorder, this relationship-
oriented approach can help reduce mood cycling.
For bipolar disorder, interpersonal therapy is often combined
with social rhythm therapy. People with bipolar disorder are
believed to have overly sensitive biological clocks, the
internal timekeepers that regulate circadian rhythms. This
clock is easily thrown off by disruptions in your daily pattern
of activity, also known as your “social rhythms.” Social rhythm
therapy focuses on stabilizing social rhythms such as
sleeping, eating, and exercising. When these rhythms are
stable, the biological rhythms that regulate mood remain
stable too.
Family-focused therapy                        
Living with a person who has bipolar disorder can be difficult,
causing strain in family and marital relationships. Family-
focused therapy addresses these issues and works to restore
a healthy and supportive home environment. Educating family
members about the disease and how to cope with its
symptoms is a major component of treatment. Working
through problems in the home and improving communication
is also a focus of treatment.
Complementary treatments for bipolar disorder                        
Most alternative treatments for bipolar disorder are really
complementary treatments, meaning they should be used in
conjunction with medication, therapy, and lifestyle
modification. Here are a few of the options that are showing
promise:
Light and dark therapy – Like social rhythm therapy, light and
dark therapy focuses on the sensitive biological clock in
people with bipolar disorder. This easily disrupted clock
throws off sleep-wake cycles, a disturbance that can trigger
symptoms of mania and depression. Light and dark therapy for
bipolar disorder regulates these biological rhythms—and thus
reduces mood cycling— by carefully managing your exposure
to light. The major component of this therapy involves
creating an environment of regular darkness by restricting
artificial light for ten hours every night.
Mindfulness meditation – Research has shown that
mindfulness-based cognitive therapy and meditation help
fight and prevent depression, anger, agitation, and anxiety.
The mindfulness approach uses meditation, yoga, and
breathing exercises to focus awareness on the present
moment and break negative thinking patterns.
Acupuncture – Acupuncture is currently being studied as a
complementary treatment for bipolar disorder. Some
researchers believe that it may help people with bipolar
disorder by modulating their stress response. Studies on
acupuncture for depression have shown a reduction in
symptoms, and there is increasing evidence that acupuncture
may relieve symptoms of mania also.

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