Monday, August 31, 2009
Bipolar Disorder 3
Hi Everyone I hope you are doing well, I am doing good. There is so much to learn about Bipolar Disorder that I have been braking them into parts. I hope you found this information helpful for you or a loved one. I realize now that there was so much I didn't understand about my mother's illness. Lithium did work well for her and with another family member who suffers from it today it is just a matter of finding the right combination of med's or a cocktail as some of the Doctor's call it. In the meantime life can be hell for those who suffer from this disorder. I admire each and every one of you who do and get up every morning and continue to fight. I wish for you a cure someday or a hope that you find your right combo or cocktail as they say.
Thanks for visiting my blog, Take Care, Janet :)
How is bipolar disorder diagnosed?
The first step in getting a proper diagnosis is to talk to a doctor, who may conduct a physical examination, an interview, and lab tests. Bipolar disorder cannot currently be identified through a blood test or a brain scan, but these tests can help rule out other contributing factors, such as a stroke or brain tumor. If the problems are not caused by other illnesses, the doctor may conduct a mental health evaluation. The doctor may also provide a referral to a trained mental health professional, such as a psychiatrist, who is experienced in diagnosing and treating bipolar disorder. The doctor or mental health professional should conduct a complete diagnostic evaluation. He or she should discuss any family history of bipolar disorder or other mental illnesses and get a complete history of symptoms. The doctor or mental health professionals should also talk to the person’s close relatives or spouse and note how they describe the person’s symptoms and family medical history. People with bipolar disorder are more likely to seek help when they are depressed than when experiencing mania or hypomania. Therefore, a careful medical history is needed to assure that bipolar disorder is not mistakenly diagnosed as major depressive disorder, which is also called unipolar depression. Unlike people with bipolar disorder, people who have unipolar depression do not experience mania. Whenever possible, previous records and input from family and friends should also be included in the medical history.
How is bipolar disorder treated?
To date, there is no cure for bipolar disorder. But proper treatment helps most people with bipolar disorder gain better control of their mood swings and related symptoms. This is also true for people with the most severe forms of the illness. Because bipolar disorder is a lifelong and recurrent illness, people with the disorder need long-term treatment to maintain control of bipolar symptoms. An effective maintenance treatment plan includes medication and psychotherapy for preventing relapse and reducing symptom severity
Bipolar disorder can be diagnosed and medications prescribed by people with an M.D. (doctor of medicine). Usually, bipolar medications are prescribed by a psychiatrist. In some states, clinical psychologists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, and advanced psychiatric nurse specialists can also prescribe medications. Check with your state’s licensing agency to find out more. 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 the doctor 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.
For the most up to date information on use and side effects contact the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) at http://www.fda.gov.
1. 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. Except for lithium, many of these medications are anti-convulsants. Anticonvulsant medications are usually used to treat seizures, but they also help control moods. These medications are commonly used as mood stabilizers in bipolar disorder:
Lithium (sometimes known as Eskalith or Lithobid) was the first mood-stabilizing medication approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the 1970s for treatment of mania. It is often very effective in controlling symptoms of mania and preventing the recurrence of manic and depressive episodes.
Valproic acid or divalproex sodium (Depakote), approved by the FDA in 1995 for treating mania, is a popular alternative to lithium for bipolar disorder. It is generally as effective as lithium for treating bipolar disorder. Also see the section in this booklet, “Should young women take valproic acid?”
More recently, the anticonvulsant lamotrigine (Lamictal) received FDA
approval for maintenance treatment of bipolar disorder.
Other anticonvulsant medications, including gabapentin (Neurontin), topi-ramate (Topamax), and oxcarbazepine (Trileptal) are sometimes prescribed. No large studies have shown that these medications are more effective than mood stabilizers.
Valproic acid, lamotrigine, and other anticonvulsant medications have an FDA warning. The warning states that their use may increase the risk of suicidal
thoughts and behaviors. People taking anticonvulsant medications for bipolar or other illnesses should be closely monitored for new or worsening symptoms of depression, suicidal thoughts or behavior, or any unusual changes in mood or behavior. People taking these medications should not make any changes without talking to their health care professional.
Lithium and Thyroid Function
People with bipolar disorder often have thyroid gland problems. Lithium treatment may also cause low thyroid levels in some people. Low thyroid function, called hypothyroidism, has been associated with rapid cycling in some people with bipolar disorder, especially women. Because too much or too little thyroid hormone can lead to mood and energy changes, it is important to have a doctor check thyroid levels carefully. A person with bipolar disorder may need to take thyroid medication, in addition to medications for bipolar disorder, to keep thyroid levels balanced.