Treatment for bipolar disorder is not simple. Even if a treatment for bipolar disorder works for awhile, it may stop working. There is no one treatment for bipolar disorder, although there are some preferences. My story of treatment for bipolar disorder indicates how hard it is to come up with just the right mix of medications that will treat both the manic and depressive phases of bipolar disorder and also all the variations of the bipolar spectrum.
I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder after an episode of depression that was treated successfully with Zoloft. I then experienced about five months of feeling very good and then, suddenly I was agitated, violent, feeling great one hour and feeling suicidal the next. I saw my psychiatrist immediately and he diagnosed bipolar disorder, mixed. He began treatment with Depakote 500 mg. I still felt terrible and he quickly titrated the Depakote up to 2000 mg. I finally felt in control of myself although this treatment for bipolar disorder made my feet feel very leaden and my brain did not work properly. For example, I couldn’t do the simplest arithmetic, but it was worth not having the horrible symptoms of bipolar disorder.
I still couldn’t work but I did feel better. I coasted along like this for about four months and then began to feel depressed. My psychiatrist attempted to treat the depression with Zoloft since it had worked before. This time it didn’t. He tried Prozac with no improvement for me. He took me off Depakote and put me on Lithium and Tegretol. The depression worsened. I could barely make it from my bed to my couch and I spent much of my time thinking up various ways to kill myself. I felt like a knife was cutting my soul. I tried Wellbutrin, which initially worked but then left me depressed and anxious. We tried Remeron with no improvement.
About this time my disability insurance ran out and along with that, my ability to pay for health insurance. I went to a public mental health clinic. Their psychiatrist tried Celexa, which did help for awhile.
During this time, I was also being treated for bipolar disorder with one on one psychotherapy to help me spot my triggers and stressors.
My suicidal feelings went from being almost constant to once in awhile and I spent my days on the Internet mainly looking up information on treatment for bipolar disorder. But my life was very constricted and I didn’t want to go out or see people.
The psychiatrist tried Neurontin, Topomax, and Lamictal, anti seizure medications that also work as mood stabilizers for people with bipolar disorder. They didn’t work and I began to go into a very black depression again. Then he tried Zyprexa, a fairly new medication that was revolutionizing the treatment of people with schizophrenia. It helped but I was still depressed. Then he prescribed the anti depressant, Effexor and a big black cloud lifted.
With some trepidation, I began to go out into the world again, to make new friends and reconnect with old ones. I was able to read books, something I had always loved but had been unable to do when I was so depressed. I still don’t feel “normal” and probably never will but I can live a life that again has pleasure and purpose. I am currently being treated with Zypreixa, Effexor, and Xanax. Medications with X in their names seem to work for me.
As you can see, treatment for bipolar disorder is a long bumpy ride with no real ending.