What is the best treatment for bipolar disorder?

Medication. Usually, bipolar disorder is best treated with prescription medications. The most common medications for bipolar disorders are mood stabilizers and/or antipsychotics. 

Lithium is considered a mood stabilizer and it’s often used to treat bipolar disorders. Lithium can be used both as maintenance therapy and as treatment for acute episodes. 

In general, antidepressant medication is not recommended as the only treatment for bipolar disorders. Antidepressants can cause mood destabilisation and must be carefully monitored. 

A doctor will take into consideration the patient’s symptoms, possible side effects and how effective different types of medications are before determining what prescriptions to use.

Psychotherapy. Psychotherapy, or ‘talk therapy’, plays an important role in the treatment of bipolar disorders. Prescription medications in combination with psychotherapy is considered the best treatment solution for most patients. 

Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) in combination with medical treatment improves mood stabilisation and reduces the recurrence of bipolar symptoms more effectively than medications alone.  

ECT. Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is a treatment in which electrical impulses are administered through the scalp to induce a seizure. ECT procedures are always performed under general anesthesia. 

ECT is effectively used to treat severe depressive episodes and mania in bipolar disorders. 
Read more about ECT and depression: All you need to know about electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) – Liberating modern ECT from old-fashioned stereotypes

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