Why Choose Therapy for Bipolar Disorder?

Bipolar disorder is the umbrella term for a group of related mental illnesses. All of these illnesses elevate and depress your mood in unusual and harmful ways.

Left untreated, bipolar disorder can seriously interfere with your day-to-day function. For this reason, all affected people need help from an effective care plan.

A well-devised plan makes it possible for you to recover and stabilize your everyday routine.

How to treat bipolar disorder? Today, therapy is a common option. Many of the available therapies are based on traditional psychotherapy techniques.

However, others are based on newer or alternative methods. Regardless of its origin, each type of effective therapy provides you with certain benefits in bipolar disorder recovery. 

Basics of Bipolar Disorder

Mania and depression are the defining characteristics of bipolar disorder. Mania is a state marked by unusual, extreme feelings of being elated, “up” or energized.

Depression, on the other hand, is marked by “down” emotions such as sadness, helplessness or indifference.  

Doctors in the U.S. diagnose three forms of bipolar disorder. Each of these conditions triggers a different combination of manic and depressive symptoms.

The first of the three illnesses is bipolar I disorder. People with this condition:

  • Experience episodes of mania that last at least seven days
  • Have manic symptoms severe enough to call for hospitalization
  • Tend to have bouts of depression that last for a minimum of two weeks
  • May experience mixed states of depression and mania

The second bipolar illness is bipolar II disorder. Like people with bipolar I disorder, people with this condition experience alternating bouts of mania and depression.

However, the manic symptoms are less severe and referred to as hypomania. 

Cyclothymic disorder is the third bipolar illness. The condition also has an alternate name: cyclothymia. Symptoms of cyclothymic disorder are less severe than those of bipolar I and bipolar II.

But what they lose in intensity they gain in duration. Adults are affected by them for no less than two years at a time.

Is there a cure for bipolar disorder? As a rule, the answer to this question is no. Most people first develop symptoms as late-stage teens or young adults.

Once these symptoms begin, they usually affect you for life. Still, with proper treatment for bipolar disorder, you can regain and maintain your ability to function.

Types of Therapy for Bipolar Disorder

Types of Therapy for Bipolar Disorder

A wide variety of therapies for bipolar disorder may help you recover from the worst effects of the illness. A list of the potential psychotherapy options includes:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT
  • Psychoeducation
  • Family-focused therapy, or FFT
  • Interpersonal and social rhythm therapy, or IPSRT

Your bipolar treatment plan may also include additional options such as:

  • Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy, or MBCT
  • Art therapy
  • Person-centered therapy

Each of these therapies deserves a closer look.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Bipolar Disorder

Cognitive behavioral therapy helps you spot negative patterns in your thought and behavior. It also teaches you how to create new patterns that support improved mental health.

In addition, CBT helps you strengthen your problem-solving skills and your capacity to handle negative emotions that still occur. 

The therapy has several benefits for bipolar disorder treatment. Those benefits include:

  • Decreasing the frequency of depression episodes
  • Lessening the effects of existing depression
  • Limiting the severity of manic episodes

CBT is especially beneficial for people with bipolar I disorder. 

Psychoeducation for Bipolar Disorder

Psychoeducation is a teaching tool.  It’s main objective is to make sure you take the bipolar disorder medications that your doctor has prescribed.

The therapy achieves this goal in two ways. First, it helps you understand the biological nature of the disorder. It also gets you up to date on the available medications and how those medications work.

There is strong evidence for psychoeducation as a bipolar mania treatment. There is less evidence to support it as a bipolar depression treatment. 

Family-Focused Therapy for Bipolar Disorder

Family-Focused Therapy for Bipolar Disorder

Family-focused therapy is based on a combination of other therapy techniques. That includes:

  • Psychoeducation
  • Family communication
  • Problem-solving

Education gives everyone the information needed to ease their fears. Improved communication helps you talk about important family issues. And problem-solving gives you the tools you need to address those issues.   

When combined with medication, FFT has known benefits for both adults and children. These benefits include:

  • Shorter episodes of depression and mania
  • Fewer episodes
  • A general reduction in symptom severity

Interpersonal and Social Rhythm Therapy for Bipolar Disorder

Interpersonal and social rhythm therapy is designed to treat several key aspects of bipolar disorder, including:

  • The impact of stressful events on your life
  • The disruptions that bipolar illness creates in your social life
  • Bipolar-related disruptions in your normal day-night cycle
  • The problems caused by failing to consistently take your medication

During IPSRT, you learn practical methods of addressing these issues. Research shows that the therapy helps in several ways. That includes improving both your manic and depressive symptoms.

It also includes improving the usefulness of mood-stabilizing medications. In addition, IPSRT produces improvements in your overall ability to function. 

Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy for Bipolar Disorder

Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy is based on traditional cognitive behavioral therapy. It also includes other elements such as:

  • Meditation practice
  • Daily mindfulness or awareness exercises
  • Yoga and mindful stretching 

MBCT is relatively new. As a result, it’s still being studied as a treatment for bipolar disorder. The therapy shows promise. However, it may work best in combination with other treatment options.

Art Therapy for Bipolar Disorder

Art therapy uses the creative process as a form of non-verbal expression. This is important because people with bipolar disorder often have difficulty expressing themselves.

By turning to art, they can get around this difficulty. The therapy also helps you:

  • Lower your stress level
  • Cope with the effects of bipolar illness
  • Increase your sense of control and confidence

Person-Centered Therapy for Bipolar Disorder

Person-Centered Therapy for Bipolar Disorder

Person-centered therapy is also known as client-centered therapy. In this treatment, therapists play a secondary role.

The focus is on giving you support for your own growth and self-discovery. Over time, you learn how to do things such as:

  • Understand your thoughts and emotions
  • Work through your personal conflicts
  • Change your outlook on the world
  • Develop values the promote mental health
  • Change behaviors that harm your mental health

The Best Therapy for Bipolar Disorder

What is the most effective treatment for bipolar disorder? Does one therapy stand out compared to the others? Not necessarily.

The benefits of therapy depend, in large part, on your personal situation. An option that works well for you might not work as well for someone else. 

This means that the best care is individualized. Your treatment team will help you find therapy options that suits your needs.

This team can also help you make any needed changes in the future. That’s the best way to ensure that you receive high-quality care.

Other Bipolar Disorder Treatment Options

There are also other kinds of treatments for bipolar disorder. These treatments may be used in combination with therapy. They may also be used on their own. 

A sample treatment plan for bipolar disorder will likely include medication. Mood stabilizers are some of the most common bipolar disorder drugs. These medications help ease the illness’ highs and lows.

There are also other options for achieving the same goals. For example, antipsychotics are frequently used to help control symptoms of mania.

A bipolar depression medication will help control depressive episodes. Additional meds for bipolar disorder may include:

  • Anti-anxiety medications
  • Sleep aids

In limited circumstances, interventions for bipolar disorder may also include electroconvulsive therapy, or ECT.

This therapy uses control bursts of electrical current to change how your brain works. ECT is mainly used for severe illness that does not respond to other treatments.

Therapy and Treatment for Bipolar Disorder at EIR

In all its forms, bipolar disorder is a serious mental health challenge. The right kind of psychotherapy can help you meet this challenge. Bipolar therapies comes in a range of options.

No one option is suited for every case of the illness. However, effective therapies can be found regardless of your personal circumstances. 

The best treatment plans are customized to your needs. Any given plan may include one or more forms of therapy. This may be all the help you need.

However, it is common to receive some form of medication. A small minority of affected people benefit from ECT. 

At Emerald Isle Health and Recovery, we feature personalized treatment for bipolar disorder. Therapy forms the heart of our treatment approach.

With help from our team of experts, you can start your recovery from any bipolar illness. EIR offers both inpatient and outpatient treatment. No matter the severity of your disorder, you can find an option suited to you. 

Not sure if you need help for bipolar disorder? We offer mental health assessments that reveal typical symptoms of the illness. We also offer more in-depth psychiatric evaluations.

Emerald Isle is dedicated to supporting your return to well-being. For more information on our therapy and treatment options, contact us today.