What Therapy is Best for Bipolar Disorder?

Asked by Anonymous

To determine the best course of action when diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder, it is necessary to speak with mental health professionals, as symptoms of Bipolar Disorder can vary widely with regards to severity. Those with Bipolar I Disorder may require hospitalization until the person is stable, which is often unnecessary with Bipolar II Disorder. An important point to make before discussing treatment options is that Bipolar Disorder is sometimes misdiagnosed. Make sure you receive a thorough evaluation by a mental health professional you trust. If it has been a long time since being diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder, be open to the fact that you may receive a different diagnosis now.

Since those with Bipolar Disorder will experience depressive episodes and manic or hypomanic episodes, treatment may vary depending on the current episode. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is effective in treating Bipolar Disorder. The therapist will help you to recognize the cognition associated with your depressive episodes and, by using cognitive restructuring, change the way you think.

Because those experiencing a manic episode may feel agitated, euphoric, or out of control, your therapist may help you learn mindfulness strategies and coping skills. Your therapist may also help you develop a routine and stick to it, as having a structured schedule can be important for those with mood shifts. Additionally, the therapist may include your family in therapy, as your communication and overall relationship with them may be affected. If you abuse substances, helping you get and stay sober will be extremely important, as drug and alcohol use can make the symptoms of Bipolar Disorder far worse. Your therapist may encourage you to participate in additional social activities to have additional support and be more active when feeling depressed.  Rather than only treating the episodes when they occur, there are preventative measures that your therapist can help you take to minimize these episodes.

Many people who have Bipolar Disorder, especially those who have frequent or intense manic episodes, can benefit considerably from psychotropic medications. Mood stabilizers, including lithium and Depakote. Antipsychotic medications, such as Abilify, are also sometimes used if the client is not experiencing psychosis. In addition to the mood stabilizer, your doctor may also prescribe an antidepressant that can reduce the frequency and severity of depressive episodes. It is very important that you take these medications as prescribed, as stopping them without consulting your doctor can be catastrophic even if you are feeling well.

Overall, there are several treatment options for Bipolar Disorder, with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy combined with other treatment modalities probably the most common experience. Communicate with the mental health professional what is and what is not working for you. Fortunately, various approaches can be effective, so although it can take trial and error, most people with Bipolar Disorder benefit significantly from therapy.