Bipolar Medications Adherence: How to Help

For patients suffering from bipolar disorder, medication compliance is a problem. Here's how to help.

Medication compliance is often a problem for people with bipolar disorder. Here's how to help.

For patients suffering from bipolar disorder, it's not uncommon that they don't take medications as prescribed. There are many reasons for this. Some medications for bipolar disorder can cause unpleasant side effects in some patients. Treatment may not be effective or may be perceived as not effective by the patient. Patients may miss the "high" feeling that comes with manic episodes. Bipolar patients who have substance abuse problems are much less like to take their medication.

Bipolar patients may not view themselves as ill, especially during an episode. This is, perhaps, the greatest obstacle to medication compliance among some patients. Someone who does not think they are sick can hardly be expected to take medication.

If bipolar medication noncompliance is a problem for your loved one, consider these steps:

  • Ask your loved one's health care professional for specific advice.
  • Explain that taking medication regularly can help reduce the severity and duration of a manic episode.
  • Investigate psychotherapy options. Cognitive-behavioral therapy, for example, has been shown to improve medication compliance in bipolar disorder patients and help them better cope with stress.
  • If side effects are a problem for your loved one, ask his or her health care professional about changing medications, reducing dosage, and/or treating side effects.
  • Simplify your loved one's medication regimen by using a pill organizer.
  • If appropriate, think about giving your loved one incentives/positive reinforcement for taking medications.

APA Reference
Tracy, N. (2021, December 28). Bipolar Medications Adherence: How to Help, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, June 14 from

Last Updated: January 7, 2022

Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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