PreventionBy Mayo Clinic staff
There's no sure way to prevent bipolar disorder. However, getting treatment at the earliest sign of a mental health disorder can help prevent bipolar disorder or other mental health conditions from worsening.
If you've been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, some strategies can help prevent minor episodes from becoming full-blown episodes of mania or depression:
- Pay attention to warning signs. Addressing symptoms early on can prevent episodes from getting worse. You and your caregivers may have identified a pattern to your bipolar episodes and what triggers them. Call your doctor if you feel you're falling into an episode of depression or mania. Involve family members or friends in watching for warning signs.
- Avoid drugs and alcohol. Even though you may initially feel better, using alcohol or street drugs makes your symptoms more likely to come back.
- Take your medications exactly as directed. Medications can have unwanted side effects, and you may feel unhappy about having a mental health condition that requires lifelong treatment. During periods when you feel better, you may be tempted to stop treatment. This can have immediate consequences — you may become very depressed, feel suicidal, or go into a manic or hypomanic episode. If you think you need to make a change, call your doctor.
- Check first before taking other medications. Call the doctor who's treating you for bipolar disorder before you take medications prescribed by another doctor. Sometimes other medications trigger episodes of bipolar disorder or may interfere with medications you're already taking to treat bipolar disorder.
- Bipolar disorder. National Institute of Mental Health. http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/bipolar-disorder/complete-index.shtml. Accessed Nov. 2, 2011.
- Bipolar disorders. The Merck Manuals: The Merck Manual for Healthcare Professionals. http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/psychiatric_disorders/mood_disorders/bipolar_disorders.html#v1028598. Accessed Nov. 2, 2011.
- Mood disorders. In: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders DSM-IV-TR. 4th ed. Arlington, Va.: American Psychiatric Association; 2000. http://www.psychiatryonline.com. Accessed Nov. 3, 2011.
- Practice parameter for the assessment and treatment of children and adolescents with bipolar disorder. Washington, D.C.: American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. http://www.aacap.org/cs/root/member_information/practice_information/practice_parameters/practice_parameters. Accessed Nov. 2, 2011.
- Joska JA. Mood disorders. In: Hales RE, et al. The American Psychiatric Publishing Textbook of Psychiatry. 5th ed. Washington, D.C.: American Psychiatric Publishing; 2008. http://www.psychiatryonline.com/pracGuide/pracGuideChapToc_8.aspx. Accessed Nov. 3, 2011.
- Martinez M, et al. Psychopharmacology. In: Hales RE, et al. The American Psychiatric Publishing Textbook of Psychiatry. 5th ed. Washington, D.C.: American Psychiatric Publishing; 2008. http://www.psychiatryonline.com/content.aspx?aID=320111. Accessed Nov. 3, 2011.
- Post RM. Bipolar disorder in adults: Maintenance treatment. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed Nov. 2, 2011.
- Andreescu C, et al. Complementary and alternative medicine in the treatment of bipolar disorder: A review of the evidence. Journal of Affective Disorders. 2008;110:16.
- Sarris J, et al. Bipolar disorder and complementary medicine: Current evidence, safety issues, and clinical considerations. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. 2011;17:881.
- Hall-Flavin DK (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Nov. 8, 2011.