Is There a Cure for Bipolar Disorder?

Pharmacist
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Bipolar disorder, formerly known as manic-depressive illness, is a chronic condition that affects a person's mind and mood. The condition, if left untreated, can sometimes make it difficult for you to hold down a job or maintain relationships with friends or loved ones. If you become very unstable, you may need to stay briefly at a psychiatric hospital.

Fortunately, bipolar disorder is very treatable, though it can't be cured.

Common Symptoms 

In terms of symptoms, a person who has bipolar disorder will usually swing from one extreme state to another—feeling very high and excited (mania) and then feeling very low and sad (depression). There's also an in-between state that's called hypomania.​

Mania might manifest as feeling like you can do anything (even something unsafe or illegal), not feeling tired or not sleeping much, dressing flamboyantly, spending money extravagantly, participating in risky sexual behaviors, and having hallucinations or delusions. 

There's another type of mania that's less extreme and that can actually be beneficial called hypomania. In this state, you may have utter confidence in yourself, have a better ability to focus well on projects, feel extra creative or innovative, brush off problems more easily, and feel on top of the world.

 

Finally, there's the depressive state. If you're experiencing depression, you might not want to get out of bed for days on end, sleep more than usual, feel tired all the time, have bouts of uncontrollable crying, become uninterested in things you once enjoyed, pay no attention to daily responsibilities, feel hopeless, helpless, or worthless for a sustained period of time, feel unable to make simple decisions, and want to die.

There Is No Cure for Bipolar Disorder

Part of the reason that there is no cure for bipolar disorder is due to the complex set of factors that cause bipolar disorder. There may be a genetic component to the condition, but a person's environment—such as experiencing a stressful life event like a death in the family, the loss of a job, the birth of a child, or a move—may also lead to the onset of symptoms. In short, there is still a lot about bipolar disorder that scientists don't know. Gene therapy may one day offer hope for better treatment, but that's a long way off.

Remission

While there isn't a cure for bipolar disorder, all hope is not lost because there is remission. With the right treatment plan, many people go for years and even decades being symptom-free. Some say they did it themselves by changing their lives, adding meditation or prayer, or using sheer willpower. Others point to nutritional remedies such as TrueHope, which some find useless and others swear by. And for many, the solution is medications, which studies show work best when combined with talk therapy of some kind. Sometimes you need to take a few different types of medications or change the dosing over time until the best combination is discovered, which can take time and trial and error.

 

Remission is about gaining stability and keeping your bipolar disorder under control, and that's what most people who have bipolar disorder are hoping for—a productive and harmonious life.