Because bipolar disorder is a recurrent illness, long-term treatment is necessary. Mood stabilizer drugs are typically prescribed to prevent mood swings. Getting the full range of symptoms under control may require other drugs as well either short-term or long-term. Lithium is perhaps the best-known of the mood stabilizers, but newer drugs such as lamotrigene have been shown to cause fewer side effects while frequently obviating the need for antidepressant medication. Used alone, antidepressants can precipitate mania and may accelerate mood cycling.
Nutritional approaches have also been found to have therapeutic value. Studies show that omega-3 fatty acids may help lower the number or dosage of medications needed. Omega-3 fatty acids play a role in the functioning of all brain cells and are incorporated into the structure of brain cell membranes.
Work and relationship problems can be both cause and effect of bipolar episodes, making psychosocial treatment necessary. Studies show such treatment reduces the number of mood episodes patients experience. Psychotherapy is also valuable in teaching self-management skills, which help keep the everyday ups and downs from becoming full-blown episodes.