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Treating Severe Manic Depression

In treating severe Manic Depression (also known as Bipolar Disorder) there is presently no cure, however, with proper treatment most people can get control of their mood swings and live a comfortable life.   The most important thing is that long-term treatment will be needed to maintain control of symptoms.  Additionally, the most effective treatment plan includes medication and psychotherapy for preventing relapse and reducing the severity of symptoms.

Treating severe Manic Depression with medications is best done by someone with extensive experience in using medications to treat mental illness.  This person is usually a Psychiatrist (also known as a Psychopharmacologist).  In treating severe Manic Depression not everyone responds to medications in the same way, so several different medications may need to be tried before the best course of treatment is found.  Throughout the process of treating severe Manic Depression, if a person’s symptoms change or if side effects become serious, the doctor may switch or add medications.

Some of the types of medications generally used in treating severe Manic Depression include anticonvulsant medications, neuroleptics and anti-depressants.  Often the first choice in treating severe manic depression is to use anticonvulsant medications as a mood-stabilizing medication.  Anticonvulsant medications are usually used to treat seizures, but they also help in treating severe Manic Depression.  Another class of medications that can be used as mood-stabilizers is the neuroleptics.

Additionally, antidepressant medications are sometimes used in treating severe Manic Depression, particularly the depressive symptoms found with it.  However, people who take antidepressants are often placed on a mood stabilizer too. The reason for this is that taking only an antidepressant can increase a person’s risk of switching to mania or hypomania, or of developing rapid cycling symptoms.  However, for many people adding an antidepressant to a mood stabilizer is no more effective in treating the depression than using only a mood stabilizer.

In addition to medication, psychotherapy, or “talk” therapy, can be effective in treating severe Manic Depression.  This is important in providing support, education, and guidance to these individuals and their families.

Finally, for cases in which medication and/or psychotherapy do not work in treating severe Manic Depression, electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) may be useful. ECT, formerly known as “shock therapy,” once had a bad reputation. But in recent years, it has greatly improved and can provide relief for people with severe Manic Depression who have not been able to feel better with other treatments.

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