Can some bipolar people still become manic even while on medication?

I have an acquaintance who was diagnosed as bipolar. He was on medication for it but he still became manic even while on the medication.  Is this unusual or can some bipolar people still become manic even while on medication?


I love analogies … they are kinda like poetry to me … though I am still trying to figure out why a raven is like a writing desk (Thanks Alice in Wonderland, if I die trying to figure that one out, it’s all your fault!), I do know my son is exactly like a land mine. Take one step in the wrong direction, asking him to write a sentence or a book report and KABOOOOMMM!

Now medication … ah wonderful medication … how often you have let me down! (Especially when I have cramps and you only take away a third of the pain when I could REALLY use the help on those last two thirds, but NOOOO, I’ve gotta go get a heating pad and curl up in a ball. Way to be Ibuprofen! Way to let me down!)

Oh but wait, that’s kinda the way meds work isn’t it. Medication is more like a band-aid … just masking the injury that is still underneath. And a band-aid sure doesn’t take away the pain, nor does medication. I mean sure you can get a really good pain killer like Vicodin or an awesome anti-anxiety med like Xanex, but really, the only things those puppies do for me is put me to sleep. Does that kill the pain and dull the anxiety? Well, duh…I’m asleep! But more than likely, the symptoms are still there under the surface.

So let’s be honest here. Can you really think of any medication that “cures” an ailment? Sure, antibiotics do kill an infection, but that doesn’t mean that the infection will never come back. Pain relievers definitely dull the pain, (and/or put you to sleep so you don’t remember the pain), but they don’t take away the injury or the actual cause of the pain. Cough medicine reduces the symptoms, but it doesn’t REALLY stop the coughing or cure the cold.

Same goes for Bipolar Medications. We can take drug upon drug to try and hide all our symptoms, and sometimes we are successful. Most often not though. I mean don’t get me wrong. The medications are very beneficial. They definitely REDUCE the severity and the duration not to mention the frequency by which the symptoms occur. But they don’t cure the illness, and they don’t stop the symptoms from poking through now and again.

Bipolar medications, whether they be mood stabilizers or anti-psychotics or even anti-depressants, they aren’t there to cure us. They are there to help us function in the most typical way possible. They are an aid. A little extra umph to get us through the day.

I can take gobs of meds and I still get depressed, and I still get panic attacks, and I still have days where I require everyone to talk to me in third person. (Marybeth loves to talk in third person!), but all those things would be so much worse without the meds.

Instead of a few racing thoughts and a little tightness in the chest, an unmedicated panic attack can turn into a completely huge episode in which I can’t breath, I can’t think straight, I can’t move, I literally can’t function!

Instead of some sad thoughts in which I am able to talk to a friend or family member about and have them help me make sense of, an unmedicated depressive episode can turn into me sleeping for days on end, crying ALL the time and possibly even a hospitalization.

And instead of a little hyperactivity and slight euphoria that may or may not include a few items purchased that may or may not be needed (Target is BAD…so is IKEA! Just saying), an unmedicated mania can turn into a dangerous shopping spree in which I spend my rent money AND groceries and the next two months car payments just so I can buy a new pair of shoes and a purse, not to mention that killer dress that was on sale and oh my freaking good gods of chocolate did you see that hair style, I NEED it. And I’m pretty sure I NEEDED that whole new bedding set and all the furniture that matched. Um wait…I didn’t NEED any of that, and since its an unmedicated mania, I’m pretty much up shit creek with a toothpick for a paddle.

Kinda see where I’m going with this? Although those of us suffering from any mental disorder, as well as the people around us, would LOVE for medications to cure all our symptoms and make everything perfect … they can’t. But they can help us function. And they can help us work through our issues. And they can prompt us to get the extra treatment, such as therapy, that we need to be the best us we can be. Have patience with your acquaintance (OMG that rhymed….why yes I am a dork!) They’ll get past their spurt of mania. It’s not their fault. And believe me, without the medication, you’d be seeing a whole other side of mania that you never thought exsisted!

I hope this helped you understand the use of medications to treat bipolar disorder a bit more. If not, please don’t hesitate to ask further questions!

2 thoughts on “Can some bipolar people still become manic even while on medication?

  1. Thank you for this post. I came across it while searching for things to write about for my own website. I’ve grown up around people with bipolar disease, and this is always a nagging question for myself and others who have to deal with someone who fluctuates despite the medication. Did they really take their meds?

    This is the best perspective I’ve found on that issue, and I’ve read quite a bit about bipolar disease. Very well put.

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