Bipolar Information / Treatments
At Bipolar Australia, we believe that the treatments and tools to make recovery possible for every person who has Bipolar Disorder are already available. Although there is no cure for the condition, it can be well managed and most people are able to actively participate in our society.
Managing Bipolar is often similar to treating other chronic conditions, such as diabetes. There is a physical component (taking the right medication), a psychological component (learning about what you should do and not do), and an psychosocial component (learning from others with the same condition and educating the people around you).
Key Treatment Components
Seeing a Psychiatrist
We advise everyone who has Bipolar to regularly consult a suitably qualified Psychiatrist in order to confirm their diagnosis, develop a medication plan, and, in the longer term, monitor their condition.
As with any professionally delivered personal service, it may take some time to find the right Psychiatrist for you, and over time, as your needs change, you may decide to find a new Psychiatrist to consult. This is normal and not a reflection upon you or upon any Psychiatrists who you consult and decide are not suitable for you.
The Royal Australia and New Zealand College of Psychiatrist maintains a searchable database of consultant psychiatrists. Select Bipolar Disorder from the Primary Problem Area drop down menu in order to narrow your search to Psychiatrists who have experience helping people with Bipolar.
Education for Family and Friends
We advise everyone who cares for someone with Bipolar to seek out information about the condition and how they can help their loved one. The presence of ill-informed or stigmatised family members or friends can significantly impact on the mental health of a person who has Bipolar over time.
There are three online resources which may be particularly helpful:
The Bipolar Caregivers website, sponsored by the University of Melbourne, contains a comprehensive encyclopaedia of bipolar related information.
Bipolar Scotland has produced a video series covering a range of essential topics, including information for families and carers.
If you want to speak with other carers anonymously, the SANE Carers Forum provides a safe online space to help family members and friends share stories and exchange information.
Bipolar Australia also offers a Peer Education Service for families living in New South Wales, Victoria, south-eastern Queensland, and the Australian Capital Territory.
Seeing a Psychologist
We advise everyone who has Bipolar to consult a suitably qualified Psychologist from time to time. Following stabilisation of the chemical imbalance in the brain with medication, psychological services are often critical in helping people with the condition learn to understand their triggers and deal with stressful situations in their lives.
As with any professionally delivered personal service, it may take some time to find the right Psychologist for you, and over time, as your needs change, you may decide to find a new Psychologist to consult. This is normal and not a reflection upon you or upon any Psychologists who you consult and decide are not suitable for you.
The Australian Psychological Society maintains a searchable database of psychologists. Select Bipolar Disorder from the Mental Health drop down list (accessed by clicking Select an Issue) in order to narrow your search to Psychologists who have experience helping people with Bipolar.
Obtaining Peer Support
We advise everyone who has Bipolar to maintain contact with other people who have the condition, in person if possible, and online if no in person group is available. Similarly, we also advise that family members and friends who care for people with Bipolar seek out peer support.
Peer support is often the ‘X’ factor which helps people to bring together the medicinal, educational, and psychological resources they have accessed and build their learning into a coherent, sustainable plan for management and healthy living. Although peer support should not be regarded as analogous to counselling, being around other people who “just get it” and have considerable experience in managing the same condition is generally extremely valuable, especially during periods of difficulty.
Bipolar Australia maintains a searchable database of face to face Support Groups. If there is not a Support Group in your area, or if you wish to speak with other people who have Bipolar anonymously, you may wish to visit the SANE Lived Experience forum, which provides a safe online space to help people with mental illnesses share stories and exchange information.