Q&A: Is My Bipolar Treatment Not Working, Or Is There Something Else Wrong?

Q: I’ve been battling with bipolar disorder for a number of years, and while, at first, everything seemed to be fine (with ongoing treatment), now I find that I’m not sure if things are still okay with me – even my friends and family have noticed slight changes in my behavior. Could something more serious be going on?

A: It depends. If your changes in behavior are expected responses to a particular situation, then probably not. However, if your behavior suggests that you are engaging in more impulsive behaviors than before, have become more withdrawn or angry, or that your safety and/or the safety of others is compromised, then I think it wise to immediately seek psychiatric treatment.

Although you have been receiving treatment for bipolar disorder, it is possible that you are no longer responding to your standard treatment and your provider may decide to adjust your treatment so that you receive maximum benefit. One of the ways I have seen psychiatrists and other qualified health professionals address this type of situation is by adding additional medications to an already established regimen, a practice commonly referred to as adjunctive therapy. Another action that providers may take is to adjust dosages, but your physician or appropriate mental health care provider can better address your specific symptoms and recommend a proper course of treatment.