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Treatments for Bipolar Disorder

The following treatment guidelines are meant as a reference tool only, and are not intended as treatment advice or to replace the clinical decision-making process of psychiatrists or other health professionals who administer these treatments. In clinical practice there are often good reasons why treatment approaches differ from what is described here.


Although there is no definitive cure for Bipolar Disorder, the treatments that currently exist are effective at resolving Bipolar mood episodes (Hypomanic, Manic, Depressive or Mixed Episodes) and preventing them from recurring.

The use of medications is an essential part of the management of this disorder.   There is about a 70% chance that a Manic Episode can be adequately treated by a standard medication [ref], compared to a 30% chance that the episode will resolve with a placebo pill [ref].  After recovering from a Bipolar mood episode, the chances of having another episode within 1 year are as high as 85% if the person is not taking any medications, but are about 20-50% if the person is following treatment [ref].

Lifestyle management and psychotherapy are also very useful forms of treatment and can offer benefits beyond what medications alone can achieve, but these options tend to work as complements to the medications and are not effective alone. 

Treatment Guidelines for Bipolar Disorder

Treatment guidelines have been developed to help clinicians decide when to consider using the different kinds of treatments available for Bipolar Disorder [ref, ref, ref, ref, ref], and they are summarized by PsychVisit. These treatment strategies differ depending on the kind of mood episode that an individual is experiencing at any given time. There are guidelines that exist for treating:


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Bipolar Disorder & Women's Health

Psychoeducation & Lifestyle Management