Different Types of talk Therapy for Bipolar Disorder

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Talk therapy is a way to help people with depression and other emotional difficulties. Whether issues revolve around coping with the stresses of daily life, the impact of past trauma, or the loss of a loved one, talk therapy may help alleviate the symptoms and help you find your way to a b

Bipolar disorder (BD) is a condition that is strongly affected by stress. Episodes of mania and depression can be triggered by major life events, serious family conflicts, turbulent relationships, and situations that disrupt sleep or wake rhythms. That is why it is problematic when the treatment is presented mainly as pharmacological. People with TB function best when they receive medication from a psychiatrist and regular psychotherapy sessions (weekly or biweekly).

Psychotherapy can help a person cope with the stress of these external factors, manage their symptoms, and improve their relationships. 


Here are several different forms of therapy that have been found effective for BD.

#. Family-centered therapy

Family-focused therapy (FFT) includes both the person with TB and their parents, spouse, or other family members. FFT usually lasts about 12 sessions (depending on the family's needs) taught by a single therapist. The first sessions focus on education about the condition: its symptoms and how they change over time, its causes, how to recognize early warning signs of new episodes, and what to do as a family to prevent episodes from getting worse.

Subsequent sessions focus on communication and problem-solving skills, especially for addressing family conflicts. In many randomized trials conducted by my laboratories at the University of Colorado and UCLA, we have found that people with TB who receive FFT and medication after an episode have less severe mood symptoms and better functioning for periods of 1 to 2 years than those who receive medications, as well as shorter treatments or case management.


#. Interpersonal and social rhythm therapy

IPSRT is an individual therapy in which the person with TB keeps daily records of their bedtimes, wake times, and activities and the effects of changes in these routines on their mood. The doctor advises the person on how to regulate their daily routines and sleep-wake cycles as a way to stabilize their mood. The person and his or her therapist identify one or more interpersonal problem areas (e.g., conflicts with coworkers, difficulty maintaining friendships) and discuss possible solutions to prevent similar problems from arising in the future.


#. Cognitive behavioral therapy

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is an individual therapy focused on the relationship between a person's thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. CBT teaches people to:

  • Identify negative assumptions and thought patterns, and challenge themselves to try more adaptive ways of thinking.

  • Monitor their activity levels to ensure that they engage in rewarding aspects of their environment when they are depressed and do not overexert themselves when they are manic.


#. Dialectical behavioral therapy

Dialectical behavior therapy is a skills-based approach that includes individual and group therapy. It teaches mindfulness and acceptance skills, such as the ability to experience moment-to-moment thoughts and emotions and the physical sensations that accompany them from the stance of an observer, without negative judgments. It also teaches distress tolerance, emotion regulation, and interpersonal effectiveness.


#. Group psychoeducation

People with TB come together (often accompanied by family members) and are led by a group facilitator (either a psychologist or a trained telehealth for mental health counselor). Some groups are highly structured and follow an educational and skills training agenda. Others focus on telling their own story and receiving support and suggestions from people who have gone through similar situations.

Over time, the specific type of therapy may not be as important as the continuity of having a therapist or group that knows you well and makes you feel comfortable enough to disclose important issues. Along with medications, support from mental health professionals who understand your journey is key to an effective treatment plan and recovery.


What type of therapy is best for bipolar disorder?

There is no clear choice as to what is the best type of therapy for bipolar disorder. While cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a well-researched and widely used form of therapy for bipolar disorder, other approaches may be more appropriate in certain situations.

Research suggests that no matter what type of therapy you use, psychoeducation (learning about your disorder) is very effective for bipolar disorder.

Many therapists take a varied approach to psychotherapy, drawing techniques from different therapeutic approaches. Instead of providing solely CBT or solely dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT), for example, psychotherapists can use a combination of therapeutic approaches to address the unique needs of their clients.


Finding a Therapist for Bipolar Disorder

We understand how difficult it can be to admit that you need help. Many people with bipolar disorder feel guilt, shame, or embarrassment about their condition. It is very important that you understand that seeking help at a talk therapy center can be the first step in managing your condition. You can gain new skills and learn effective coping mechanisms that will help you progress in your life with fewer episodes and, ultimately, more happiness.

Bipolar disorder is a serious mental health condition that is difficult to treat. It is a condition that affects people for life, but it is treatable. It is essential that you explore ways to complement medication protocols and the prescription of mood stabilizers with the use of continuous online therapy and natural treatments for bipolar disorder.

Committing to working with a mental health professional who specializes in therapies for bipolar disorder can be a life-changing decision. You can get help for your bipolar disorder diagnosis, and you deserve it. Don't wait any longer to get started: You don't have to let bipolar disorder rule your life.