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July 30, 2007

A Move To A More Holistic Approach In Bipolar Disorder, a UK based news and resource site relating to pharmacology issues, included a piece on the changing outlook of bipolar disorder in the psychiatric community. In this article they discuss how more professionals and patients are realizing that a holistic approach - an approach that deals with more than just the primary symptoms of the disorder and treats the "whole" person - is of greater benefit and may "revolutionize patients' prospects". The article includes references for the information listed.

The article points out that a holistic approach makes sense because bipolar disorder affects so many areas of one's life. Often time's work and relationships are impaired, medication side effects can cause sexual issues, or other physical problems, suicide risk is increased, substance and alcohol abuse is common, and other physical health symptoms or psychological health symptoms appear.

"On average, an uncontrolled (meaning untreated or stabilized) sufferer (of BD) will die nine years earlier than the rest of the population and experience 12 fewer years of healthy life."

The article also states that current compliance with psychiatric medications isn't very high. The drugs prescribed may be prescribed in excess, or the side effects of the drug may be very uncomfortable. Its much harder to maintain treatments when someone is required to take up to 4 different types of pills that cause side effects.

Many patients have been expected to take up to four types of drugs daily, including several associated with adverse effects including weight gain, somnolence, sexual dysfunction and involuntary movements.

In the past psychiatrists were only focused on maintaining mood, and decreasing depressive and manic symptoms; which are the hallmarks of bipolar disorder. But noticing how wide a range the effects of the disorder are, and the lack of success in treating many patients, the focus has changed to a more holistic approach. This approach focusing on not only maintaining symptoms, but also dealing with the physical, cognitive, social, emotional, behavioral, and even spiritual aspects of a person.

Only when every domain of bipolar illness is addressed, do patients have the best chance of fully recovering ability to participate in normal life.

The article argues that the fewer drugs a person needs to take, the higher likelihood they will continue their treatment, meaning compliance rates go up. They also argue that other therapies, besides increasing medications, may be more beneficial to supplement with.

Talking therapies are also key, they believe, as is psycho-education. Teaching patients to understand the nature of bipolar disorder and the importance of seeking help early is recognised as a necessary part of management for every patient. Psycho-education programmes explain when and why medicines must be taken regularly, and teach coping strategies. By avoiding destabilising triggers such as stress, overwork, and too little sleep, patients can help prevent acute episodes of mania and depression.

Read Full Article:
BIPOLAR DISORDER: a new holistic approach.
30 Jul 07


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