Treatment for Manic Depression

Various options of treatment for manic depression / bipolar disorder are available for those suffering from the condition. These can be broadly classified into two categories, the first one being the psychological approach which includes counseling and psychotherapy; while the second approach includes pharmacological drugs and other medical treatments, including electro convulsive therapy or ECT.

In most cases, a combination of psychological treatment and pharmacological drugs is found to be extremely effective and helpful.

If manic depression is diagnosed early, suffering can be minimized and treatment which is started early can help to reduce symptoms immediately. In addition, a strong support system will go a long way in helping people suffering from manic depression recover quickly. This can come in the form of family and friends who can guide patients and encourage them to stick to a healthy diet, exercise program, and keep them busy in activities which are creative and productive. This is, arguably, more important than any formal treatment for manic depression.

Psychological Treatment & Psychotherapy

Manic depression or bipolar disorder mostly manifests in people who tend to repress and suppress their feelings and continue to live with their traumatic experiences because they have not been able to let go of their past.

Psychotherapy treatment for manic depression involves various types of therapies, such as individual therapy, group therapy, family therapy, etc, and each one is designed to address specific problems.

In individual therapy, there are only two people involved - the therapist and the patient. Here, the patient is asked certain questions and, slowly, he will start opening up and talking about his problems. As patients learnt to share their grief or problems, they start experiencing relief and all their bottled-up emotions are freed. Similarly, in group therapy and family therapy, the entire group gets to voice their opinions, feelings, and share their experiences with each other and learn from other people’s experiences.

The main aim of psychotherapy treatment for manic depression or bipolar disorder is to establish the patient’s state of mind to try and offer solutions that will help them get over the emotional aspect of the problem. This will teach them to let go of the feelings of guilt, shame, and frustration and they learn to accept things as they are. People with low self esteem and self confidence learn how to overcome these feelings and move on with life.

Patients with suicidal thought patterns are encouraged to stop harboring these thoughts, and to cultivate fresh thoughts and ideas. Therapists often closely follow up with such patients and recommend hospital admissions in some cases. Once their mood is elevated and they are in a calmer frame of mind, therapy is continued.

Therefore, psychotherapy and counseling are options that need to be taken seriously by patients suffering from manic depression / bipolar disorder. An entire course of psychotherapeutic treatment for manic depression might range from two to three months.

Cognitive Behavioral therapy (CBT) is another form of psychotherapy where therapists try and understand the past history or childhood history of patients. Certain behavior patterns are felt to take root in childhood or extremely early stages of life and, if there are disturbing behavior patterns, therapists will need to understand the cause of the problem. This will help them identify certain triggers that induce particular behavior patterns and, if the cause for the same is discussed and set right, patients will experience significant change in their depression levels.

For patients who are into substance abuse and alcohol, de-addiction and rehabilitation might be recommended in addition to psychotherapy and counseling treatment for manic depression.

Pharmacological Drugs/Antidepressants

It has been established that certain chemical imbalances in the brain are one of the major reasons for manic depression in patients. Besides exercise and diet, one way to supplement these chemical imbalances is to start patients on drugs and medication that will set this balance right.

Some antidepressants commonly used include fluoxetine or Prozac, dosulepin or Prothiaden, mirtazapine or Zispin, etc; most of these are serotonin-based drugs and work towards increasing the level of serotonin in the brain.

It is important to note that antidepressants do have side effects, sometimes even fatal ones. We are very concerned about this and it is thus our stand that the use of drug medications as a treatment for manic depression, or any kind of depression for that matter, should only be carried out as a last resort.

For those who do choose to use drugs as a treatment for manic depression / bipolar disorder, however, there are certain things which must be taken note of. One should follow dosage instructions carefully and on time, as failure to do so can result in ineffective treatment or relapses.

It is also very important not to stop taking medications abruptly without the knowledge or consent of one's physician, as that can be very dangerous. It has been noticed that some patients, upon feeling better, then make their own decision to discontinue with medication, which should not be encouraged. Antidepressant treatment should be tapered, continued, or stopped only after consulting the psychiatrist or general practitioner who has prescribed the medications.

Family and / or friends should also closely monitor drug intake and ensure that all the pills are not handed over to the patient because, in a very depressed state, patients often overdose themselves.

Alternative and Natural Remedies and Treatments

In addition to pharmacological drugs, certain alternative and natural methodologies, including natural herbs, have been found to be very helpful as treatment for manic depression. St. John’s Wort is one such herb which is available in the market in various forms and helps treat mild depression. Of course, as with all herbs, only good quality ones will be able to bring about the desired results.

Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT)

Medical treatment for manic depression in a hospital setting for extreme cases of the condition, especially psychotic manic depression, includes electroconvulsive therapy or ECT. Though most countries have issued a ban on this form of treatment, it is thought to be effective by some and continues to be administered.

This is done under anesthesia; therefore, the patient experiences absolutely no pain. ECT involves sending electric currents through the brain, which results in convulsions, and these convulsions are thought to decrease feelings of depression. One of the major side effects of this form of treatment is memory loss.

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