According to research, bipolar or cyclothymia patients who experience the most positive change once treated take the following steps.
1. They take a proactive approach to their healthcare, researching their issues, keeping notes and articles together in a notebook or a laptop, writing down their questions and feelings. They chronicle their treatment experience, documenting their reactions to medications, the cycles of their moods and possible triggers for high or low periods. They note each medication, the dosage and when they take it. By making this step, they become the expert in their own care, partnering with their doctor. The days when a doctor would take offense at this approach is over. Patients must be proactive to achieve the best results.
2. They’ve educated themselves not only on their particular mood disorders, but on the variety of medications used to treat them, and the other therapies and lifestyle approaches they need to make their treatment most effective. Because they’ve researched in books, through friends and on the internet, they’re not surprised when medications take 3-6 weeks to be effective. They’re not surprised when the talk therapy causes more stress than relief at first. They know that the short-term frustrations turn into long term progress and relief.
3. They utilize the several treatment approaches and take lifestyle changes seriously. They’ve realized that not everything is solved with a pill. Medication can be more effective when talk therapy helps individuals relax and acquire coping skills that lower the cortisol levels (stress hormones) in their brains. Medication is more effective when, through talk therapy, individual derive a sense of support and relief after discussing problematic past events or even current struggles in their lives. Talk therapy can be more effective when medication supports the mood enough to help the patient discuss issues clearly. Talk therapy can be more effective when high moods are moderated sufficiently enough for the individual to keep appointments and discuss issues in a reasonable way. Support groups help individuals encourage newcomers to stay on their medication and keep their therapy appointments. They lift moods and help individuals feel less alone. Successful Bipolar Therapy patients work three approaches to support and moderate their moods.
4. They take other medical issues seriously. A body in optimal shape responds to both medication and talk therapy most effectively. A patient who has educated him or herself (see step #1) knows that many physical issues and changes can effect brain chemistry. Menopause, aging, sleep disorders and the use of medications for other medical issues can all interfere with medications prescribed to treat mood disorders. Those who take their recovery seriously, examine their body and medical issues thoroughly.
5. They refrain from using alcohol or narcotics to treat their symptoms: So many in America find alcohol and illegal drug use the easiest way to quell sad or extreme feelings. Both are relatively easy to get and seem to solve short term problems. But the long-term problems they create are among the worst that life delivers. They are inefficient ways to feel better and can actually exacerbate bi-polar disorder.
Now, let’s hear your success stories. What helped you either control your symptoms or come to terms with your diagnosis? Was it a strategy? A medication? A support group? A new habit? Research can only tell us so much. The best information comes from individual voices like yours.