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Bipolar Disorder: Why You Don’t Want to Skip Medications

Being diagnosed with bipolar disorder can be distressing knowing that it may not be an easy condition to live with because of possible recurring manic and depressive episodes throughout your life. You may wonder what your future may be like. Will the symptoms be ever more tolerable or will they get worse? Do you stand a chance of being cured of it?


Understanding Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder is a recurrent condition involving distinct changes in your thinking, emotions and behavior. These manifestations can be more extreme and persistent than the typical ups and downs most people experience. They can affect how you function at home, school or work. A person with bipolar disorder usually experiences an episode of mania, hypomania, or a mixed episode. They are also prone to experiencing depression.

Bipolar disorder has no cure. Taking medications is the primary treatment for this condition, in order to manage the symptoms better.  Even when the symptoms may not be manifest between episodes, the condition is still there. It is not a condition that will just dissipate on its own. To manage the symptoms and be able to achieve functionality, taking your medications that your psychiatrist or Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner has prescribed can be essential.


Skipping Medication

 If you decide to stop treatment on your own, or skip your medication, the recurrence of manic and depressive symptoms in the next episodes may be more difficult to prevent and manage. Your condition may take a downward spin, meaning the frequency and intensity of the episodes may increase throughout life. Functionality may be more difficult to achieve, making interactions with other people at home, school or work even more challenging.

If the one with the condition is a loved one, you probably wish that you could help. How can you help your loved one who is refusing medication?   It is important to understand why they refuse to adhere to their medication.

The Reasons behind Non-adherence

Compliance with medication is a major concern of many caregivers with a ward or loved one diagnosed with bipolar. Come of the major reasons for those refusing medications are:


  1. Anosognosia – a condition when the patient is not aware that he/she is sick
  2. Alcohol and/or drug abuse – patient does not experience the desired effects of the medication as they are countered by alcohol or drugs
  3. Poor therapeutic alliance – poor relationships with the psychiatrist or prescriber does not encourage compliance
  4. Medication side effects – intolerable side effects can discourage a patient from continuing the medication

 There are other factors that may contribute to noncompliance, such as cost of medication, not experiencing any improvement, and depression and/or confusion that may complicate the symptoms. Some bipolar patients may purposely stop taking their medicines because they enjoy the manic symptoms.

**Please note that many of the above can be alleviated by finding the right Psychiatrist or Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner and talking with them about what keeps you from taking your meds.  Most issues can be addressed with solutions to your satisfaction!



The Inevitable

Regardless of the reason, it is important to note that for most people with the condition, strict adherence is essential to keep bipolar episodes to a minimum. Studies reveal that the possibility of a relapse within five years can get as high as 82 percent using non-adherence as a predictor. This means that skipping medications can significantly affect your ability to live a functional life while increasing the intensity and frequency of symptoms for life.

While you may see taking medication as a sign of admission that you are not well or you are less perfect, think of this: it is your key to achieving functionality and living a normal, productive life. Look at the positive side of things. With the right medication, there are no limits to what you can accomplish. You can pursue your life’s aspirations and be a happy in your accomplishments. Know that you can choose your psychiatrist who can listen and respect you, and who’ll have the patience to search for the right medication. Come and meet this psychiatrist or Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner; call or visit Living Well Psychiatry along Raeford Road in Fayetteville, NC.

 Living Well Psychiatry is located near the VA Hospital on Raeford Road, not far from Raeford, NC.  Living Well is in also near Hope Mills, NC.  Living Well Psychiatry serves Cumberland County, Hoke County and Moore County, NC.