If you or a loved one has bipolar disorder, you may wonder, “Can bipolar be cured?” Existing research suggests that bipolar disorder stems from brain changes that alter attention, executive functioning and the processing of emotions. Bipolar disorder is also linked to alterations in the connections of nerve cells in some regions of the brain. These changes in brain physiology and functioning cannot be cured.
While there is no magical cure for bipolar disorder, there are treatment options and lifestyle changes that can help people with bipolar disorder manage their symptoms and improve their lives. Standard treatments and natural remedies can improve a person’s mental health overall.
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Treatment for bipolar disorder can involve medication, therapy or a combination of the two. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), medications, including mood stabilizers, antipsychotics, and in some cases, antidepressants, can treat bipolar symptoms.
In a review of the research with medications used for bipolar treatment, scientists writing for Lancet Psychiatry determined that most of the medications used to treat bipolar disorder are more effective than a placebo. Lamotrigine shows greater tolerability when compared to carbamazepine and lithium, but the authors of the review report that lithium is still the gold standard medication for bipolar treatment.
Additionally, NAMI reports that therapy, education and self-management of symptoms can also be useful parts of bipolar disorder treatment. Research shows that cognitive behavioral therapy and psychoeducation groups are especially effective for preventing relapse in stabilized cases of bipolar disorder. In addition, a review of the research shows that psychotherapy may be beneficial when used in combination with medication, as it appears that the combination of medication and therapy is superior to medication alone for bipolar treatment.
Beyond standard treatments, there are natural remedies for bipolar disorder. Existing research on natural remedies to treat bipolar disorder shows that there are a variety of effective options:
- Supplementation with omega-3 fatty acids
- Light therapy
- Herbal medicines, such as St. John’s wort and Rhodiola rosea
Although the condition cannot be fully cured, the prognosis of bipolar disorder is positive, and patients who take medications to treat bipolar disorder tend to experience favorable outcomes. A study conducted over 18 months found that 88 percent of patients were retained on medications, and 74 percent of them remained relapse-free.
A second study provides a positive bipolar disorder outlook. The study, which followed individuals with a bipolar disorder diagnosis over four years, determined that mood episodes decrease significantly over time. Around one-third of the 266 patients in this study did not have a recurring episode. The study’s authors report that ongoing high-quality treatment can improve bipolar long-term prognosis.
Empower Yourself With Tools to Recover From Bipolar Disorder
Learning bipolar management tools can improve your mental health and support your recovery from bipolar disorder. A study in the journal Stress & Health shows that people who demonstrate an ability to self-manage bipolar symptoms have better mental health.
Managing bipolar symptoms may involve attending support or education groups and tracking your symptoms in a journal. By tracking symptoms, you can learn about the factors that trigger or contribute to mood episodes, as well as the habits that can prevent a relapse.
Some people may find that they require the help of a professional, even if they are using bipolar management tools. Professional help may be necessary for people who struggle with substance use disorders in addition to bipolar disorder.
If you or a loved one struggle with a drug or alcohol addiction and co-occurring bipolar disorder, The Recovery Village may be able to provide the supportive care you need. Reach out to a representative today to begin your journey toward recovery.
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National Alliance on Mental Illness. “Bipolar disorder.” August 2017. Accessed March 10, 2019.
Miura, T., et al. “Comparative efficacy and tolerability of pharmacological treatments in the maintenance treatment of bipolar disorder: a systematic review and network meta-analysis.” Lancet Psychiatry, October 2014. Accessed March 10, 2019.
Beynon, S., et al. “Psychosocial interventions for the prevention of relapse in bipolar disorder: systematic review of controlled trials.” The British Journal of Psychiatry, January 2008. Accessed March 10, 2019.
Swartz, Holly A. “Psychotherapy for bipolar disorder in adults: A review of the evidence.” U.S. National Library of Medicine, August 14, 2015. Accessed March 10, 2019.
Qureshi, Naseem A., & Al-Bedah, Abdullah M. “Mood disorders and complementary and alternative medicine: A literature review.” U.S. National Library of Medicine, May 14, 2013. Accessed March 11, 2019.
Kraemer, Susanne, et al. “Comparably high retention and low relapse rates in different subpopulations of bipolar patients in a German non-interventional study.” BMC Psychiatry, July 17, 2013. Accessed March 11, 2019.
Tundo, Antionio, et al. “Predictors of recurrence during long-term treatment of bipolar I and II disorders. A 4 year prospective naturalistic study.” Journal of Affective Disorders, January 1, 2018. Accessed March 11, 2019.
Echezarraga, A. “Resilience dimensions and mental health outcomes in bipolar disorder in a follow‐up study.” Stress & Health, June 22, 2017. Accessed March 11, 2019.
Medical Disclaimer: The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.