Often, people who suffer from bipolar disorder either resist taking medication or do not take their medication on a regular basis. This can make their symptoms of bipolar disorder more severe.
In order to successfully treat bipolar disorder, patients should follow their doctors’ instructions when taking prescription medications. Patients can also make some lifestyle changes to help cope with bipolar disorder and to help make it easier to follow a medication schedule.
An Overview of Bipolar Disorder
Bipolar disorder is a mental illness that causes a person to experience unusual and sometimes dramatic mood shifts. A person suffering from bipolar disorder, also known as manic depression, may also experience sudden changes in energy levels and changes in the ability to function normally.
While all people experience mood swings every now and then, the shifts that a person suffering from bipolar disorder experiences are severe and debilitating. Luckily, there are treatments available to help those who suffer from bipolar disorder.
Taking Bipolar Medication
There are several reasons why a person suffering from bipolar disorder might resist medications. Sometimes people do not seek treatment because they don’t believe they are suffering from a problem. This could be due to many factors, including:
- They are experiencing one or more symptoms of bipolar disorder (denial, delusional thinking, poor judgment, etc.).
- They are in denial. Even if they have been diagnosed by a doctor, people commonly deny the problem.
- They don’t want to deal with the social stigma of a mental illness.
- They fear losing the ability to lead a “normal” life.
Even if people are able to accept that they have bipolar disorder, they may resist medication because:
- They don’t want to be controlled by an outside force and are seeking to gain control in their lives.
- They don’t want to deal with the medication’s side effects.
- They miss living in a high-energy state.
- They see a reduction in symptoms and believe they don’t need the medication anymore.
The Importance of Taking Medication
Following a treatment plan prescribed by a doctor can help many people cope with bipolar disorder symptoms, which can help them lead happier and more productive lives.
In order for medication to work properly, however, patients must take their medications according to doctors’ instructions. Most often, this means taking the proper dose of your medication at the same time every day. In order to help yourself remember to take your medication, you might consider incorporating it into one of your daily routines, such as brushing your teeth or going to bed.
If you experience any negative side effects from your medications, talk to your doctor. He will likely be able to change your dosage or switch you to another medication.
Never, under any circumstances, adjust your dosage without a doctor’s permission or stop taking your medication without talking to your doctor. If you stop your medication, you could relapse and symptoms could worsen.
Lifestyle Changes to Help Bipolar Disorder
In addition to taking medication, people suffering from bipolar disorder can make lifestyle changes to help reduce bipolar disorder symptoms:
- Get Enough Sleep: Getting enough sleep can help regulate moods. Most experts recommend getting at least six and preferably eight consecutive hours of sleep every day.
- Get Regular Exercise: Exercise can help increase a person’s sense of well-being and can help manage weight gain, a side effect of some bipolar medications.
- Maintain a Healthy Diet: A diet low in saturated fats and high in whole grains and fresh fruits and vegetables can help the body function properly. It can also prevent weight gain.
Research also suggests that eating foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids can help reduce the symptoms of bipolar disorder. Oily fish (salmon, sardines, mackerel, etc.) contain high levels of omega-3.
Abbott Laboratories (2007). Managing Bipolar Disorder. Retrieved July 17, 2007, from the Depakote ER Web site: http://www.depakoteer.com/depakoteer/patient/bipolardisorder/living-managing-bipolar-disorder.jsp.
A.D.A.M., Inc. (2004). Bipolar Disorder: Therapy