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What Makes Bipolar Treatment So Difficult

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Treating bipolar disorder is a lot like trying to hit an erratically moving target with a huge arsenal of weapons that may work, malfunction or blow up in your face. It’s scary to try new things, impossible to predict how certain meds or therapies will work and frustrating if success just never seems to come.

• What is Bipolar disorder?

It can also feel a lot like a complicated board game. There are several moving pieces, just as many outside factors to consider, opponents on many sides and consequences to actions. One move can lead to a huge leap forward in progress, or a major setback on the way to the objective. The other problem is that the “objective” isn’t ever achieved fully and forever. Perhaps for a time you “win the game,” but rarely is it ever the end of the game forever. Eventually, the title of “winner” may be stripped from you, your piece set back to the start position (or at least may feel like it) and you are told to start all over again.

It’s ironic how treatment alone can actually cause an episode to occur in a bipolar person. When a major setback occurs, or an outcome isn’t achieved like everyone was expecting, it can be devastating and may trigger a depressive episode. On the other hand, a victory — whether short-term or long-term — can give someone the feeling of being above the illness completely, of having been completely healed or even that some supernatural power had chosen them specifically to beat the illness, triggering a manic episode or symptoms.

Bipolar disorder is a volatile, erratic beast to try to tame, and it is nowhere near easy. But knowing that treatment does work, that people have found relief and that it can be beaten can give many people hope for a better future. It can be easy to feel down all the time with the way treatment may seem to never work or only bring about side effects, but knowing that all the trouble is for a better end result — one that’s actually possible — can provide even a little strength in the fight against bipolar disorder.

Getty Images photo via tuaindeed

Originally published: January 1, 2018
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