What are the Different Treatments for Bipolar Mood Swings?

Allison Boelcke

Bipolar disorder is a mental health condition that can cause drastic changes in mood. A person with the condition may quickly and inexplicably swing between low, depressive states to high, manic moods. Bipolar mood swings are thought to be the result of an imbalance of neurotransmitters, which are chemicals in the brain that are responsible for stabilizing moods. This disorder can cause severe disruptions in a person’s everyday life, and in serious cases can be life-threatening if left untreated.

There are various treatment options for bipolar disorder, once referred to as manic depression.
There are various treatment options for bipolar disorder, once referred to as manic depression.

One of the most widely recommended treatment for bipolar mood swings is the medication lithium. Lithium affects the nervous system and can help prevent drastic mood changes associated with bipolar disorder. It is not conclusively proven how exactly lithium works or precisely why it is effective at controlling mood. Although it is one of the most common treatment options, lithium can negatively affect the functions of the thyroid and kidney, so patients on the medication are generally recommended to regularly visit their doctors for tests to ensure there is no damage to the organs.

Lithium may be used in conjunction with other medications to treat the highs and lows of bipolar disorder.
Lithium may be used in conjunction with other medications to treat the highs and lows of bipolar disorder.

Another type of medication that may be used to treat bipolar mood swings is anticonvulsants. Anticonvulsants are a group of medications that tend to be recommended most often for the treatment of seizures by preventing the malfunctioning of chemicals in the brain which leads to these out of control movements. The medications have also been found to help reduce the abnormal brain activity that causes mood swings. Anticonvulsant medications can cause problems with liver function as a side effect, so regular physical examinations are usually needed to prevent complications.

Although medication is generally needed to keep bipolar mood swings under control, psychotherapy may be added to form a comprehensive treatment program. Psychotherapy for bipolar disorder may consist of a psychotherapist working with a patient to discuss factors that may trigger mood swings, such as stressful situations or drug or alcohol use, and learn how to handle the triggers in order to prevent them from causing a manic or depressive episode.

If bipolar mood swings are not effectively treated, they can cause serious complications for people with the condition. During the low, depressive moods, a person may be at a higher risk for suicide because of their feelings of unexplained hopelessness and despair. When a person with bipolar disorder is experiencing a manic episode, the feelings of euphoria and invincibility can cause him or her to make dangerous decisions, such as participating in unprotected sexual activity, driving recklessly, or other unsafe actions that can put his or her life at risk, as well as the lives of others.

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