Therapy of bipolar disorders
How long must I take my medicine?
Generally, after a first manic or depressive episode, the medicine should continue to be taken for approximately one year. More recent studies, however, have shown that most individuals who are affected require a longer period of therapy, generally amounting to a minimum of approximately two years. If two or more phases have occurred, the administration of the medication should continue for two to five years, although recommendations, in part, extend to quite a bit longer.
Also to be taken into consideration is the gravity of the episode, family histories, suicidal tendency, etc. An attempt to discontinue the medication after a sufficient length of the therapy should only be carried out with medical assistance. The reduction of the dosage should then be accomplished in slow steps, in order to reduce the risk of that a new episode will occur.
It is important to understand some things:
- Already years after the last manic or depressive symptoms have disappeared, abruptly terminating the medication is always associated with an increased risk of having a relapse. Who will be affected by such a development, however, cannot be predicted.
- Do not attempt to discontinue your medication on your own. This behaviour will, with a good probability, lead to a new acute manic or depressive phase.
- If medications for the treatment of a bipolar disorder are to be discontinued, this should only be carried out after consulting with the treating physician and very slowly, i.e. the dose must be reduced step by step.
- There are also individuals who are afflicted that must continue to take their medications life long.
- Important for dealing with the medications is that the advantages and disadvantages or risks must be considered carefully. What are the benefits and what are the disadvantages? In such a case, do not try to learn from your own errors. Instead, try to search for the solution for yourself personally and together with your doctor.