Bipolar Disorder | Treatment


How is bipolar disorder treated?

Your family doctor can treat bipolar disorder. Your family doctor may want you to see a psychiatrist too. You and your doctors will work together to control your mood swings and make sure you stay well.

Bipolar disorder is treated with medicines to stop the mood swings. Mood stabilizers are used to even out highs and lows in your mood. Antidepressant medicine can help reduce the symptoms of depression. Your doctor may add other medicines as you need them. These medicines don't start to work right away, but you will start to notice a difference in your moods after a few weeks. Be sure to take your medicines just as your doctor tells you.

Counseling can help you with stress, family concerns and relationship problems. It's important to get counseling if you have bipolar disorder.

Some people who have bipolar disorder don’t want to get treatment. Often, they don’t realize how much it affects their lives and the lives of the people around them. Also, they feel very productive and powerful during the manic phase and are reluctant to give this up.

What can I do to help myself get better?

  • Share all of your symptoms, health history and family health history with your doctor. Many people who have bipolar disorder are not correctly diagnosed. A correct diagnosis give you the best chance at getting helpful treatment.
  • Read about bipolar disorder and tell your family what you learn. Your doctor can suggest resources to help you learn more.
  • Have a regular routine. Go to bed and wake up at about the same time every day. Eat meals that are good for you and exercise at regular times.
  • Take your medicine every day, and don't stop taking it even if you start feeling better. It may take time for your medicine and therapy to have an effect on your life. Try to be patient and stay focused on your goals.
  • Avoid caffeine and over-the-counter medicines for colds, allergies and pain. Ask your doctor before you drink alcohol or use any other medicines.
  • Try to avoid stress.
  • Learn the early warning signs of your illness. Tell your doctor when you notice changes in your mood or behavior.
  • Join a support group. You and your family can share information and experiences with the support group.


Management of Bipolar Disorder by KS Griswold, M.D., M.P.H. and LF Pessar, M.D. (American Family Physician September 15, 2000,

Written by editorial staff

Reviewed/Updated: 02/14
Created: 09/00