For a long time, people with bipolar disorder (BD) have been told that taking their medication was all about taking it, and no more. However, we now have evidence that shows BD patients may be in a vicious cycle of no medication, no treatment, and no hope.
There are millions of people diagnosed with bipolar disorder, but only a small percentage of those people take their medication. One of the biggest arguments against taking medications is the belief that the drugs make you feel “drugged” and may lead to a new severe episode of mania or depression. But is it true that taking medication can lead to more manic episodes, or is it just a myth?
Why Are Not They Taking Their Meds?
Bipolar disorder remains to be one of the most common mental illnesses, and, as such, the effects of the condition are widespread. Today, this condition affects an estimated 2.5 million Americans alone. It is characterized by radical mood swings that can cause depression, mania, and mixed episodes of both. Of all the forms of mental illness, bipolar disorder is most associated with suicide, a fact that is both tragic and frightening. Yet, for some people with bipolar disorder, it can be incredibly difficult to adhere to their weekly prescription for medication.
Many bipolar patients are afraid of taking their medications because they don’t want to become dependent on the medications. Some of the reported reasons for not taking medication include:
- They feel they have a better chance of treatment success if they don’t take their medication.
- They forget to take their medications
- They fear that they will get addicted to it
- Some read stories in the news that claim that people who do not take their medications are still cured. Therefore, they think that perhaps they will be cured as soon as they stop taking their medication.
- They did not feel any better after taking their medicine and seeks for an alternative treatment.
There is a misconception that bipolar patients are able to “just take their medication” and get better. In reality, medication does not cure bipolar disorder—it merely prevents the symptoms from getting worse. But—many bipolar patients choose to stop taking their drugs because they believe they will be cured if they go off their pills. A new study showed that patients suffering from bipolar disorder might not take their prescribed medication as often. It was found that a significant number of bipolar patients were not taking their medications as frequently as the doctors had indicated.
People with bipolar disorder (what others call “crazy brain”) often have a hard time taking their medications. The problem is that follow-up studies show that over half of patients with bipolar disorder stop taking their medications. In fact, it is so common that there is even a term for it: “non-compliance.”
What happens to Bipolar Patients That Are Not Taking Their Meds?
Many bipolar patients suffer from the stigma associated with having the disease and not taking their medication. This stigma often prevents those who suffer from the disease from getting the support and treatment they need. Many people with the disease don’t see the big picture of the risks it can cause to their well-being and the folks around them. It is a fairly serious and growing problem that is affecting millions of Americans and, if not treated, may lead to a greater impact on their lives.
Is There a Way to Encourage These Patients to Take Their Medications?
From the moment a patient first enters a doctor’s office, they are often told to take their medication. Doctors and their staff want to make sure that their patients are able to take their medications on a daily basis, and they will often leave patients with a calendar with instructions about how many pills they should take for each day of the week.
In the beginning, many patients are over-anxious to get their medication, and they will take them when they are prescribed, but later on, they may not want to take their meds, and they may not take them on a regular basis. When this happens, doctors and their staff must continue to encourage them to take their medications on a regular basis.
What can be done to help my friends or family members? As a loved one with bipolar disorder, your role is to support them, help them manage symptoms, and take them to their appointments.