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What Is Bipolar Recovery?

.It’s normal for an individual with bipolar disorder to wonder if they can ever recover.

My doctor calls it remission. If you want to know my opinion, as someone who has dealt with bipolar symptoms since they were 12—I am positive that this illness will never go away.

That’s not even an option. And I’m not really bothered by it. I feel secure as a bipolar individual and my illness can be a gift. This is not to say the road to recovery isn’t tough.

In fact, I think remission is a good term because it implies that you are doing well but that there is a chance that the symptoms will come back. I would never use “cured” in the same sentence as this illness.

However, the way I have been feeling for the last month, I do believe that you can get bipolar under control for the most part. It is possible.

What Does Remission or Recovery Look Like?

To achieve remission or recovery, one should learn to become in tune with their emotions and body signals in order to determine if they are going into a depressive or manic episode.

This is done in time, and it’s quite an art and science to behold. However, it is very possible to become more in tune with your symptoms.

Being knowledgeable about your cues is essential because it prevents you from falling down the mood slope and being in a place that you don’t want to be.

Treatment must continue even if you’re feeling well. Skipping medication here and there throughout the week is not going to get you healthy.

Remission and recovery can be different for everyone because they may include other aspects in their treatment plan, such as the always recommended healthy diet and exercise regimen.

Some people may incorporate activities such as acupuncture or meditation.

It’s important that you think about what works for your optimal health in addition to the recommended activities by doctors and therapists. Do what makes you happy, what makes you feel alive.

Part of recovery, I think, is that you feel that you have a purpose, whether it is extravagant or average.

We must also make sure that we are cognizant that remission or recovery can be different for everyone. Everyone has their own standards and life circumstances and we can’t create one standard for success.

Just as we can’t judge another until we’ve been in their shoes, we cannot use our treatment plan as a foolproof example of how someone else is going to achieve their personal balance.

Understanding is necessary.


Challenges to remission or recovery include comorbidity (coexisting illnesses). The chance of having an additional condition with bipolar disorder is quite high.

Not only are bipolar individuals likely to have anxiety conditions or alcohol and drug abuse issues, they are more likely to have migraines, cardiovascular issues, obesity, and diabetes.

All of these areas of concern make it hard to know how to treat the presenting conditions effectively.

Treatment Options for Remission/Recovery

Treatment options for mania include lithium, divalproex, carbamazepine, and atypical antipsychotics. Benzodiazepines are used in some instances.

For bipolar depression, lithium, lamotrigine, and atypical antipsychotics work well. Antidepressants are also used, but with caution.

How to Achieve Remission/Recovery

You might get a different answer from someone else. However, I think it is a delicate balance that, when it happens, we are lucky to experience.

For me, it’s been a long time of adjusting medications, stopping one, starting another.

It has also been a long time of living through severe episodes of depression and keeping things positive, resting on my doctor’s belief that I can get better.

I’m feeling great right now, but I know it might not stay this way. I am actually terrified about that.

I can’t worry about the future before it happens, though. What I do need to do is go to the doctor frequently, attend my therapy sessions twice a month, and continue to religiously take my medication.

I’m trying to incorporate healthy eating and yoga to my treatment plan as well. Writing, journaling, reading, meditating, and relaxing has helped immensely as well.

May I also recommend Mary Ellen Copeland’s Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP). If you’re struggling or even feeling well, learning how to understand your triggers, creating a crisis plan, and even a daily maintenance plan can really help.

What do you think that bipolar recovery looks like? How do you think you are doing in your personal recovery plan?

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Creative Commons License photo credit: Khánh Hmoong

What Is Bipolar Recovery?

Kat Dawkins

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APA Reference
Dawkins, K. (2019). What Is Bipolar Recovery?. Psych Central. Retrieved on January 22, 2020, from


Last updated: 20 Mar 2019
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