12 Minutes

Edited & medically reviewed by THE BALANCE Team
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Bipolar disorder is a mental health condition in which the patients have moments of acute low mood, as well as intervals of joy and heightened energy, which can result in a skewed judgment and dangerous behavior. Bipolar symptoms are thought to affect one percent of the adult populace at a certain point in their lives. 

Like all psychiatric disorders, the primary question in the mind of all bipolar disorder patients remains “Is bipolar disorder curable?” and if it is not completely curable then whether or not medications have any substantial role. 

Medication is emphasized in the management of the bipolar disorder. However, more than 60 percent of individuals with the diagnosis eventually cease taking their medicine. This is usually because of the widespread, serious, and long-term complications that medications like olanzapine and lithium can bring. Dizziness, diarrhea, decreased movement, and significant weight gain is among the symptoms.

According to a new study, medications only help a small percentage of those who have been prescribed. The study looked at 12 different pharmaceutical regimens that were used in a variety of situations and found that the highest effectiveness rate was only 33 percent. Lithium, which NICE advises as a “first-line, long-term drug treatment for bipolar disorder,” was found to benefit just roughly one out of every 7 patients. It also has highly toxic metabolites. According to recent studies, one in every three people who use lithium for a long time will develop chronic renal failure.

Despite this, mental health practitioners frequently attribute patient decisions to quit taking medication to “lack of awareness” or “inaccurate fears” about the drug’s safety or efficacy. Most people are also worried about what will happen if people who don’t take medication don’t recognize when their mood is going to cause them problems. Because some experts believe that up to half of individuals with a bipolar diagnosis are unaware of their mental health problems, many people worry that if they stop taking their medication, they would lose their ability to recognize when they aren’t feeling well.

The foremost treatment for bipolar disorder is mood stabilizers, however, even with them, and especially without them, bipolar depression can be difficult to manage. That being said, there are some non-pharmacological alternatives that serve as antidepressants.

These methods and alternatives include the following

Bipolar-specific psychotherapy — a variety of psychotherapies have been found to be effective in the treatment of the bipolar disorder. These are some of them:

Prodrome detection therapy – it is spotting the early indicators of a bipolar mood disorder before it becomes a full-blown illness.

Psychoeducation – includes learning more about bipolar disorder.

Cognitive therapy – Entails a variety of modalities, such as forming a support group and coping with depression.

Interpersonal and social rhythm treatment – helps with bipolar disorder by increasing personal interactions and establishing a schedule.

Family-focused therapy – combines several types of therapy, including psychoeducation and acceptance of the diagnosis. This therapy also involves the person with bipolar disorder’s family.

Exercise – Physical activity is quite challenging for most people who are depressed. Nonetheless, aerobic exercise has been found to have an antidepressant impact. Exercise, of course, has numerous other advantages, including improved weight loss and cardiovascular health.

Manipulation of light – Managing the hours of darkness and light per day, as well as when they occur, is part of light manipulation. Blue light (such as that emitted by electronics) must be managed carefully. Manipulation of light may also help to regulate mania.

Omega-3 fatty acids (often known as “fish oil”) — study reveals that omega-3 supplements have an antidepressant impact, but it’s a minor one that takes a long time to manifest. It’s also worth noting that an omega-3 supplement must:

Optimize your eicosapentaenoic (EPA) intake to 1,000 mg (1 gram) per day in 2 or 3 capsules per day.

N-acetylcysteine (NAC) – An over-the-counter amino acid that may help with bipolar depression but, like most drugs, is likely to cause tolerance. (Tolerance occurs when a drug works for a while but then stops working.)

Thyroid hormone – lowering one’s thyroid hormone levels can help with bipolar illness symptoms. While tests and a prescription are required, the medicine is not psychopharmacological.

Without drugs, there are few choices for treating bipolar mania. The following are some of the ones for a bipolar natural treatment that have some evidence:

Magnesium — research suggests that when paired with a mood stabilizer, magnesium can effectively treat manic or rapid-cycling states. Magnesium has, however, only been utilized as an injectable; there is no indication that it can be used as an oral monotherapy.

Select amino acids – preliminary research suggests that isoleucine, leucine, and valine may help persons with acute mania. For more information, go here.

Phosphatidylcholine (choline) – this substance may lessen the intensity of depression and/or manic episodes.

Proprietary multi-nutrient formula – preliminary research suggests that a patented formula comprising 36 unique elements, including vitamins, chelated minerals, and trace elements, may help bipolar patients lessen symptoms of mania, psychosis and depression.

Reserpine – It is a herb that may be used to treat bipolar mania, but it is most likely used in conjunction with lithium.

People with bipolar disorder can benefit from cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), counseling, and a variety of lifestyle adjustments to help them manage their symptoms and enhance their overall quality of life.


Sleep can be disrupted by bipolar disorder. Someone may sleep very little during a manic period, but they may sleep for a considerable duration during a low phase.

Sleep deprivation can cause mood swings, and obtaining adequate sleep is critical for mood management.

People with the disease can benefit from good sleep hygiene because it encourages them to sleep on a regular basis.

The following are some suggestions:

  • Going to sleep and waking up at the same time every day
  • Ensuring that the room environment is comfortable
  • Before going to bed, limit screen time and possibly stressful events.
  • Not having a big dinner too close to bedtime
  • Avoiding or restricting alcohol consumption

People with bipolar disorder who are having trouble sleeping should consult their doctor.


A healthy diet is an important part of a person’s lifestyle when they have bipolar disorder.

According to a 2011 study, up to 68 percent of those seeking bipolar illness therapy are overweight or obese. People with bipolar disorder had a greater risk of diabetes, low bone density, and cardiovascular disease, among other things.

A balanced diet can assist to lower the risk of certain diseases. Another study from 2013 discovered that patients with bipolar disorder are more likely than the general population to binge eat.

This could be a side effect of medicine or the result of overeating during depressive episodes. Obesity can make recovery more difficult and raise the risk of diabetes, high blood pressure, and anxiety.

Doctors aren’t clear about what are the exact causes of bipolar disorder, although it could be caused by a neurochemical imbalance in the brain. Dopamine, noradrenaline, and serotonin are three substances known as neurotransmitters.

Serotonin has the ability to influence hunger. People may have desires for carbohydrates and sugary meals when their serotonin levels are low.

The following are some suggestions for eating a healthy diet:

  • Sticking to a regular eating schedule
  • Maintaining a varied, well-balanced diet that includes plenty of fresh vegetables and fruits.
  • Preparing a weekly menu plan, making a grocery list, and sticking to it before going to the store

When a person is in a good mood, practicing and learning new recipes might help them form these habits.


Moderate and consistent exercise can help to improve mood and avoid a variety of health issues, including cardiovascular disease and obesity.

Although there is no evidence that physical activity can help patients with bipolar disorder, some study suggests that it may help to enhance mood during a low phase.

Exercise “may be a viable and effective technique to deal with the depressed phase of bipolar disorder,” according to a 2015 assessment of studies.

In general, exercise was associated with improved health metrics, including symptoms of depression, productivity, and quality of life.

More research is needed to determine how much, how often, and how severe an individual should exercise, especially since bipolar disorder includes a lot of psychological and physical aspects.

Practicing moderation

People who suffer from bipolar disorder are more likely to engage in addictive activities.

According to one study, 56% of people with the illness have struggled with drug or alcohol addiction at some point in their lives.

The pursuit of enjoyable experiences is aided by certain brain circuits. According to one study, patients with bipolar disorder show higher levels of activity in these circuits.

This could be what motivates the individual to engage in unsafe behavior.

According to the study’s findings, the good aspect of this is that it inspires people to strive hard toward their objectives and ambitions.

On the other hand, it could indicate that a person is entirely focused on the short-term benefits of a decision while ignoring the potential long-term risks.

The following are some suggestions for avoiding these issues:

  • Becoming more conscious of any proclivity towards harmful — such as addictive — conduct
  • If there is already an issue, get assistance.
  • Enlisting the help of friends and family members to help you avoid destructive or addictive behaviors.

Friends who are aware of the dangers can propose seeing a movie instead of going out to a pub on a night out.

Keeping A Manic Episode Under Control

Although it is not always feasible to prevent a manic episode, the individual, as well as their friends and family, may begin to recognize indicators of a mood change as the disease worsens.

When this begins to happen, here are some suggestions:

  • If it’s your first time, if you’ve stopped therapy, or if your treatment isn’t working, see a doctor.
  • Because drugs may need to be adjusted, stick to the treatment regimen and keep up with all medical appointments.
  • When possible, try to stick to a normal sleeping schedule and minimize extra stress.
  • Get enough physical activity and eat a healthy diet.
  • Alcohol and other addictive drugs should be avoided.
  • Stay aware of your sensations and moods.

Although there is no permanent cure for bipolar disorder, you can enhance your general quality of life and functionality with the correct tactics in formulating a holistic treatment for bipolar disorder. Following are some additional tactics for overcoming bipolar disorder once you’ve found the proper medication and therapy for you.

1. Take an active role in your treatment.

When you’re getting treatment, be sure you’re participating in the treatment plan. Take the time to study the illness, to comprehend how it affects you, and to ask questions.

Getting to know oneself is an important element of figuring out how to manage bipolar disorder. Find out more about your unique symptoms and learn if there are any triggers or situations you should avoid.

Once you have a better understanding of the bipolar disorder and yourself, you can work with your doctor or therapist to develop a treatment plan. Assist others by asking inquiries and sharing your concerns. It’s fine to find someone else who can be a positive contributor with you on your path if you don’t feel comfortable cooperating or communicating openly with your current treatment provider.

2. Consider Therapy And Be In Regular

Medication is an important part of a bipolar treatment plan, but it isn’t the only option for getting the support you need. Therapy can also help you learn coping techniques and focus on changing your mindset and behavior for good.

Therapy can also help you enhance your daily functioning as well as the integrity of your relationships. Your therapist will use the therapy method that is most appropriate for your condition and requirements.

3. Pay close attention to your mood and bipolar symptoms.

Make sure you pay heed to your moods, how you feel and whether you’re having any symptoms as you learn how to deal with bipolar. If you begin to notice even modest changes, you may be able to cooperate with your healthcare specialists to avoid these issues from becoming much more serious.

A journal might help you keep track of your symptoms and identify warning flags early on. Another alternative is to maintain a mood chart with you at all times. This is a simple approach to keep track of how you’re feeling and see any slight changes that need to be addressed.

4. Refrain from isolating yourself.

You may feel compelled to withdraw yourself from people if you have bipolar disorder. You may not notice you’re withdrawing because you don’t want others to judge you.

As you learn to manage bipolar, it’s critical to have a strong support network. You’ll need other people to chat to, which can assist minimize your chances of experiencing a depressive episode.

Your doctors and therapist can be helpful members of your team. It can also be good to join a support group of persons who have bipolar disorder. Make your friendships and family interactions a priority.

5. Establish a Routine

A routine is a wonderful method to stay on track, ensure that you’re following your treatment plan, and help you manage bipolar disorder more efficiently. You might want to write down your regimen to help you stay on track on days when you’re not feeling well.

A routine might assist you in keeping track of your therapy or medications visits. It can also help you hold yourself responsible for getting adequate sleep, eating at regular intervals, and overall self-care.

One of the most critical aspects to control is sleep. It can either spark a manic episode or be an indication that one is already underway if you don’t get enough sleep. If you’re sleeping more than normal, it could be an indication that you’re having a depressive episode. One of the most efficient strategies to swiftly determine when changes are occurring is to incorporate a sleep plan into your routine and keep to it.

6. Pay attention to what you eat and how much you exercise.

Diet and exercise are becoming increasingly linked to our mental health. Exercise is beneficial to your mood and can also help you stay interested and focused on your daily routine if you schedule time for exercise every day.

When you’re dealing with stress or issues, you may discover that exercising becomes a healthy coping method, and the desire to participate in less positive coping practices decreases over time.

It’s also crucial to eat a balanced diet. Finding the correct diet for you should be discussed with your doctor, but avoiding harmful foods like sugar, fat, and caffeine can have beneficial impacts on your body.

7. Relax and unwind

For persons with bipolar disorder, stress can be a major trigger. Identify the areas of your life where you suffer the most stress and look for better ways to manage, or perhaps eliminate, it. Asking a family member or loved one for additional help around the house, for example, can make you feel less overwhelmed.

If your job is stressing you out, consider making some modifications and meeting with your direct supervisor to discuss your burden. Rather than waiting until a tense problem has escalated, you can find long-term resolution in your career by being solution-oriented and proactive.

8. Stay away from alcohol and drugs

People with bipolar disorder frequently turn to alcohol or drugs as a coping method. In patients with bipolar disorder, substance abuse is frequently a co-occurring disorder. When you have bipolar disorder, however, consuming drugs or alcohol can have negative side effects and repercussions.

Alcohol and drugs can alter the way your medicines operate. They can exacerbate bipolar disorder symptoms and potentially set off a manic or depressed episode.

If you believe you have a drug or alcohol issue, you should discuss it with your support network and have it treated alongside your bipolar condition.

9. Develop coping strategies that are effective for you.

When you have bipolar disorder, it’s critical to find healthy strategies to cope with stress so that you can stay emotionally and physically well.

Not all coping mechanisms will work for everyone, but experimenting with various approaches will help you figure out what works and what doesn’t. Some people, for example, may find yoga to be a beneficial exercise. Others may not appreciate it. Explore until you discover your go-to coping tactics that you like and that work well for you.

10. Have an emergency plan.

Have a strategy in place for how you’ll deal with your symptoms if they intensify or if a manic or depressive episode begins. When you’re feeling good, make a crisis plan since you’ll be more sensible and clear-headed.

People you will turn to for help should be included in your crisis plan or emergency. It should also state what you’ll do if you get serious symptoms, like suicidal thoughts. Educate yourself about your prescriptions and who to contact in the event of an out-of-control event of an emergency.

Co-occurring mental health illnesses, such as bipolar disorder, are treated at the Recovery Village. If you or a loved one is suffering from substance abuse and bipolar disorder, please contact us for additional information.


The Balance RehabClinic is a leading provider of luxury addiction and mental health treatment for affluent individuals and their families, offering a blend of innovative science and holistic methods with unparalleled individualised care.


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