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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    Is there a cure for bipolar disorder?

  • Find a professional to answer your question

  • 3

    Thanks

    Anthony Merritt

    Clinical Psychologist, Health Psychologist, Psychologist

    I have been a Clinical Psychologist for ten years. I initially specialised in health psychology with a focus on pain management. More recently my focus … View Profile

    The question depends in part about the type of bipolar and when it began. Bipolar disorder refers to several different types, known as bipolar 1 and 2, and more recently 3. Type 3 is medication induced, so sometimes stopping the meds stops the problems. Type 1 is a more severe version or type 2. In both these cases treatment involves medications and sometimes psychological therapy. Type 1 and 2 are rarely cured, but many people go on to live normal lives with good medical and psychological management. So a ‘cure’ could mean, that it has minimal impact on someone's life, and this is quite possible.    

  • 2

    Thanks

    Anthony Berrick

    Psychologist

    First of all, I think it's important to understand that the word ‘cure’ is not really meaningful when talking about psychological disorders.

    This is because psychological disorders (such as depression or bipolar disorder) are different from medical illnesses in that they are diagnosed based on certain symptoms rather than the underlying cause.

    For example, if you have a fever, it could be caused by a flu virus, or it could be because you have a severe chest infection. Either way, if you took a panadol which brought your fever down, you certainly couldn't say that you have ‘cured’ your illness - you have just aleviated one of the symptoms.

    When it comes to psychological disorders, if you no longer have any symptoms then you could be said to have recovered or be ‘in remission’ but probably not ‘cured’.

    Because bipolar disorder is diagnosed based on your history, once you are diagnosed you can never be ‘un-diagnosed’, even if you never have another manic or depressive episode again.

    Thus, you can never be ‘cured’ but, like Anthony Merritt said, you can definitely get to a point where the disorder has minimal impact on your life and you are symptom-free.

    Long answer to a short question, but I hope that helps!

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