Things You Can Do If You’re Resistant to Bipolar Treatment

    treatment resistant bipolar

    Living with bipolar disorder is challenging, and finding the right treatment is an important step in managing its symptoms. However, some individuals are not responding to the standard treatment. This is where the term “treatment-resistant bipolar” comes into play. To help deal with this problem, we’ll discuss why there are bipolar disorders that resist treatment and what to do about them.

    How do you treat bipolar?

    Bipolar disorder is a complicated mental health illness distinguished by severe mood fluctuations. It demands a thorough therapeutic approach to manage its symptoms. Here’s a closer look at the standard bipolar disorder treatment: 

    • Medications: Medications play a central role in the treatment of bipolar disorder. Mood stabilizers, including lithium, valproate, and lamotrigine, assist in moderate mood fluctuations and avoid mania and despair. Antipsychotic medications, such as olanzapine, risperidone, and quetiapine, may also be prescribed. These medications are used to treat psychotic symptoms resulting from severe manic or depressive episodes. Antidepressants can also be used sparingly to alleviate depression symptoms. These are often used in combination with mood stabilizers or antipsychotics to prevent mood destabilization.
    • Psychotherapy: Psychotherapy, sometimes known as talk therapy, is an important element of bipolar illness treatment. Some of the most commonly used treatments include cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), interpersonal and social rhythm therapy (IPSRT), and family-focused therapy (FFT). These therapies assist people in better understanding their conditions, developing coping skills, improving interpersonal relationships, and managing stress.
    • Lifestyle modifications: Lifestyle changes can help manage bipolar disorder symptoms while also increasing general well-being. Regular exercise, proper sleep, a healthy diet, and stress management skills (such as mindfulness and relaxation exercises) can all help with treatment. Avoiding alcohol and recreational substances helps to stabilize mood, minimize the frequency of mood episodes, and improve treatment outcomes.
    • Supportive interventions: Putting together a robust support system that includes family, friends, support groups, and mental health professionals can be highly encouraging. They can help support you throughout the treatment process. Supportive interventions may include education about bipolar disorder, crisis planning, and assistance with navigating challenges.

    Why is bipolar disorder resistant to treatment?

    While many individuals with bipolar disorder respond well to standard treatment approaches, some may experience treatment resistance. This means their symptoms persist despite appropriate treatment interventions. Several factors contribute to treatment resistance:

    • Genetic predisposition: Genetic variables may influence treatment resistance. Certain genetic variations or mutations may impact an individual’s response to medication and influence the course of their illness.
    • Underlying medical conditions: co-occurring medical conditions, such as thyroid disorders, autoimmune diseases, and substance use disorders, are also a factor. They can exacerbate the management of bipolar disorder and contribute to medication resistance.
    • Medication side effects: Some individuals may experience intolerable side effects from medications used to treat bipolar disorder. This can lead to treatment discontinuation or non-compliance.
    • Not following treatment schedules: Following prescribed medication and therapy schedules is needed for the successful treatment of bipolar disorder. Not following the treatment recommendations can weaken the effectiveness of interventions and contribute to treatment resistance.
    • Complexity of bipolar disorder: Bipolar disorder is a complicated and diverse condition with varying symptoms, severity, and treatment outcomes. The dynamic nature of the illness, including fluctuations in mood and behavior, can pose challenges to finding effective treatment strategies.

    Signs you’re resistant to treatment

    Recognizing signs of treatment resistance in bipolar disorder is crucial to effectively managing the condition. Some indicators that your bipolar disorder may be resistant to treatment include:

    • Persistent and severe mood swings: despite adhering to medication regimens, experiencing frequent and intense mood fluctuations that significantly impair functioning.
    • Frequent relapses or hospitalizations: experiencing recurrent episodes of mania or depression, leading to frequent hospitalizations or intensive treatment interventions.
    • Limited response to standard treatments: Noticing little to no improvement in symptoms despite trying various medications, therapy modalities, or lifestyle changes typically recommended for bipolar disorder management. 

    Does this mean your bipolar disorder can’t be treated?

    Having treatment-resistant bipolar disorder does not mean that your condition cannot be treated effectively. While standard treatment approaches may not provide sufficient relief for everyone, there are still options available. They can help manage symptoms and improve one’s quality of life. It’s important to approach treatment-resistant bipolar disorder with optimism and determination. Individuals with treatment-resistant bipolar disorder can still make significant progress. They just need to work closely with healthcare providers and remain up-to-date on available strategies.

    What can you do about treatment-resistant bipolar disorder?

    If you’re struggling with treatment-resistant bipolar disorder, there are steps you can take to improve your quality of life. Here are some strategies to consider:


    • Consult with a psychiatrist: Seek guidance from a psychiatrist who specializes in mood disorders. They can conduct a thorough evaluation, review your treatment history, and explore alternative medication options or adjunctive therapies that may offer relief.
    • Consider alternative treatment options: There are other treatment options available other than the standard ones. These include:
      • Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) is a non-invasive brain stimulation technology that has shown promise in treating a variety of mental health issues, including bipolar disorder. It sends magnetic pulses to specific parts of the brain involved in mood regulation. It helps to regulate brain activity and reduce symptoms of depression and mania. According to research, TMS may be especially effective for people who have treatment-resistant bipolar depression.
      • Ketamine Infusion Therapy: Ketamine, originally used as an anesthetic, has gained popularity for its quick and potent antidepressant effects in those with treatment-resistant depression. This includes people with bipolar disorder. Ketamine infusion therapy entails injecting a regulated amount of ketamine intravenously under physician supervision. Studies have demonstrated significant reductions in depressive symptoms following ketamine infusion sessions, with effects often observed within hours or days.
      • Vagus Nerve Stimulation (VNS): The FDA has approved vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) as a treatment for epilepsy and treatment-resistant depression. It has also demonstrated potential benefits for people with bipolar illness. This minimally invasive method includes implanting a device that sends electrical impulses to the vagus nerve. The nerve connects the brain to various organs and regulates mood, among other functions. By modulating neural activity, VNS may help stabilize mood and reduce the frequency and severity of mood episodes.
    • Stay informed: Learn more about bipolar disorder and potential treatment options. Being well-informed allows you to actively participate in your treatment plan, advocate for your needs, and make sound decisions about your mental health care.

    You can still treat bipolar, but it’s treatment-resistant

    Having treatment-resistant bipolar disorder presents unique challenges, but it does not mean that all hope is lost. Exploring alternative treatment options, collaborating with healthcare professionals, and implementing lifestyle modifications can help individuals find ways to manage their symptoms effectively. Remember that recovery is a journey, and with perseverance, support, and resilience, you can live a fulfilling life despite the obstacles of bipolar disease.