Treatment options manic depression

The treatment of manic depression usually consists of a combination of medication and psychotherapy. Examples of psychotherapy are psycho-education, cognitive behavioural therapy and interpersonal or relationship therapy for manic depression. These forms of treatment are explained below.

READ ALSO: What is manic depression?

Medication for manic depression

There are several medications that your doctor or psychiatrist can prescribe for manic depression, such as mood stabilisers and antidepressants. In the initial phase, the doctor will monitor whether there are any side effects and whether the medication is having the desired effect. Even when the medication is working well, it is important to stay alert for side effects.

Mood stabilisers

One of the medications that a doctor may prescribe in the treatment of manic depression is a mood stabiliser. This medication can help with rapidly changing mood swings, but its main function is to prevent another bout of illness. When a doctor prescribes a mood stabiliser to prevent a new mood episode from occurring, the drug should be used for years. Mood stabilisers work mainly in manic episodes. They work less well with depressive episodes. The best-known and most frequently used mood stabiliser is lithium.


Besides mood stabilisers, a doctor can also prescribe antidepressants to treat manic depression. Antidepressants are drugs that restore communication or information transfer between the cells of the brain. The use of antidepressants in manic depression should be done carefully. This is because depression can turn into mania in people with manic depression. Also, the use of antidepressants can cause periods of illness to follow each other more quickly. That is why antidepressants for manic depression should only be used in combination with a mood stabiliser.

Side effects of antidepressants

Classic antidepressants (TCAs) have side effects such as dry mouth, drowsiness, constipation, nausea and reduced blood pressure. These side effects are usually annoying and can be dangerous in overdose. Modern antidepressants are generally safer, even in high doses. The disadvantage of these drugs is that it only becomes clear after two to three weeks whether they are having an effect. Any side effects usually occur during that period and disappear again later.

Two out of three people benefit from antidepressants. However, it can take several weeks before improvement is noticeable. Antidepressants are not addictive, but some people experience side effects. If the depressive symptoms subside, it is not advisable to phase out the medication yourself. In any case, involve your physician in this process. Read more about the side effects of antidepressants in our dossier.

READ ALSO: Depression – Why Seek Help?

Treatment options manic depression

Psychotherapy for manic depression

There are various types of psychotherapy for manic depression. This psychotherapy can take place alongside the supervision of the doctor who prescribes the drugs. The most common forms of psychotherapy are listed here.

Psycho-education for manic depression

A common psychological treatment for manic depression is psycho-education. During psycho-education, a psychologist or psychiatrist explains and advises about the symptoms and treatment. Psycho-education is usually given in groups immediately after acute treatment. An important part of psycho-education is the drawing up of a crisis card or a personal signalling plan. This can help in making timely adjustments or in preventing relapse.

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Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) for manic depression

Cognitive behavioural therapy can also help with manic depression. This form of therapy can be given individually or in groups. Cognitive behavioural therapy aims to put an end to helpless and hopeless thinking habits. It is an effective treatment method for milder or moderate forms of depression. There are also indications that cognitive behavioural therapy makes you more resistant to a possible relapse. Tense or problematic relationships with others contribute to the occurrence and continuation of depression.

Interpersonal psychotherapy or relationship therapy for manic depression

Finally, interpersonal or relationship therapy are also forms of psychotherapy that are specifically aimed at improving mutual relationships within the family. They can take place in groups or individually and help to learn new patterns of thinking and behaviour. The therapies have proven to be especially suitable for unipolar depression, possibly in combination with medication.

Severe manic depression may sometimes require admission to a clinic.

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Some of our most common Behavioural Disorder Treatments are:

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