Managing Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder is a mood disorder that is characterized by extreme up and down mood swings. The cause of bipolar disorder is unknown, but there are some changes in the certain chemicals in the brain. There are different levels with this condition with some symptoms being more severe than others. Symptoms of the highs include: too much talking, being distracted, and involvement in risky activities. Symptoms of the lows include: feeling emptiness, irritability, feelings of worthlessness, and thoughts of death.

Mood stabilizing medications such as lithium (lithobid) and valproic acid (Depakene) help manage highs and lows to stabilize behavior. Routine blood test levels are required to make sure the dose and drug level is appropriate. Olanzapine (Zyprexa) and risperidone (Risperdal) help manage the extreme highs and lows when other medications are taken. These medications can cause side effects including jerky movements, dizziness, and weight gain.