Therapy for Bipolar Disorder

You deserve to find balance. Let us help you restore equilibrium.

You are not your diagnosis. You are a complete person. 

Like a rollercoaster, bipolar disorder can be scary, especially the first time you experience it. Sometimes you’re on top of the world. Other times you’re trapped deep down below the surface. People who have not walked your path will not understand what you experience. It’s time to erase the social stigma and let the world know that you are a complex and multi-dimensional, beautiful human being with passions, strengths, talents, and attributes that make you uniquely YOU. You deserve to be your whole, authentic self.

We want to help you reclaim control and recognize the specific ways you can manage all the ups and downs. With support, it’s possible to reach your goals, maintain healthy relationships, enhance your wellness, and find true freedom and fulfillment in your life.

Take the first step. We would be honored to meet you.

What is Bipolar Disorder?

Bipolar disorder is a serious mental health condition characterized by extreme and fluctuating mood swings between manic or hypomanic episodes and depressive episodes. Depending on symptoms, bipolar disorder is classified into four types: bipolar I disorder, bipolar II disorder, cyclothymic disorder, and other specified bipolar and related disorders. Bipolar I disorder involves at least one manic episode, while bipolar II involves one or more depressive episodes and at least one hypomanic episode, a less severe form of mania. Cyclothymic disorder is a milder form of bipolar disorder characterized by numerous, short-lived periods of hypomania or depression over a two-year period, while other specified and unspecified bipolar and related disorders include those which meet some but not all diagnostic criteria for the other types.

The first sign of a manic episode is often an intense sense of euphoria and grandiosity. A person typically experiences an increased, abnormal level of energy and restlessness. They may talk excessively and quickly, have racing thoughts and difficulty concentrating, and engage in impulsive and sometimes reckless behaviors. Some people also have an inflated sense of self-importance, an exaggerated belief in their abilities, or a tendency to take on overly ambitious and risky projects. Due to the high energy level, some people don’t sleep very much during a manic episode. A manic episode is a serious and potentially dangerous state that often requires immediate medical attention.

In contrast, hypomania is a milder form of mania, with symptoms similar to a manic episode but without the same degree of severity. A person may have significant productivity or creativity coupled with enhanced sociability, talkativeness, and increased energy. People experiencing a hypomanic episode are usually more self-aware than those with mania, recognize that their behavior is different, and are less likely to experience significant impairment in daily functioning. As a result, hypomania is typically not severe enough to necessitate medical attention. Nonetheless, it’s critical for individuals to understand when they are experiencing a hypomanic state so they can remain in control of what’s happening and utilize effective skills and strategies for managing symptoms.

A depressive episode is defined as a period of intense sadness, hopelessness, fatigue, low energy, lack of pleasure, persistent negative thoughts, decreased motivation, difficulty concentrating, low self-esteem, and other associated symptoms. During a depressive episode, people may also experience various physical symptoms such as changes in sleeping patterns, change in appetite, or body aches. Sometimes people socially withdraw from their friends or family, experience difficulty carrying out activities of daily living, struggle to feel worthy, and struggle with doubting their abilities and skills. Depression symptoms combined can even lead someone to believe that life is not worth living, meaning it is absolutely critical to recognize the early signs of a depressive episode and intervene with treatment as early as possible.

Although the exact causes of bipolar disorder are not fully understood, several factors have been identified as contributing to its development. Genetic factors may be involved in the onset of bipolar disorder, as it tends to run in families. Environmental factors such as stressful life events or trauma can also trigger episodes of mania or depression. Additionally, abnormalities in brain structure or function may play a role in the development of bipolar disorder. Researchers continue to study these and other potential causes of bipolar disorder in order to better understand the condition and develop effective treatments for those who experience it.

Diagnosing bipolar disorder requires thorough assessment with a mental health professional. Proper assessment is key for effective treatment because the symptoms of bipolar disorder often overlap with those of other mental health conditions, such as depression or anxiety. Diagnosing requires a full understanding of a person’s symptoms, medical history, and family history, as well as ruling out any medical conditions that could be causing the symptoms. If you or a loved one are struggling with any symptoms that may mirror those of bipolar disorder, please reach out to us. Early intervention is key to sustaining a healthy, meaningful, empowered life with bipolar disorder.

Quick Facts about Bipolar Disorder

How can therapy help with Bipolar Disorder?

Therapy is an integral part of an effective treatment plan for bipolar disorder. Through the process of therapy, individuals with bipolar disorder can work through the unique challenges they face, such as managing mood swings and coping with stressors in a healthy way. Therapists provide a safe, non-judgmental space for individuals to discuss their feelings, concerns, and experiences related to their unique experiences. This allows people to sort through complex emotions, including the intense highs and debilitating lows of bipolar disorder. The confidential, supportive atmosphere of therapy can help people strengthen their self-awareness, aid in avoiding negative patterns, and allow for a stronger sense of self.

In addition, having proper knowledge on bipolar disorder is crucial for managing this complex mental health condition. By working with a therapist, individuals with bipolar disorder and their family members can receive psychoeducation to understand the condition better and feel more empowered to take an active role in managing it. Learning about bipolar disorder with a therapist also helps people navigate the social and occupational aspects of their lives. Living with bipolar disorder can be challenging, and it can affect a person’s ability to work and maintain relationships. Learning how to communicate effectively about your symptoms to the people in your life and knowing how to assertively advocate for your needs is often life-changing for those with bipolar disorder.

Therapy also helps people with bipolar disorder identify their triggers. A therapist might ask questions about recent life events and symptoms to gain insights into which situations may have caused a person’s current state. For example, therapists can help people identify their stressful events, such as relationship conflicts or work pressures, that can trigger episodes. Similarly, therapists can help individuals create healthy routines in their lives, such as creating a consistent sleep schedule, healthy eating patterns, engaging in regular exercise, and avoiding substance use, which are proven to help prevent drastic mood swings. Therapists can also help people minimize any shame associated with their mood swings through specific techniques like mindfulness or radical acceptance. This helps people learn to acknowledge and accept their feelings without judgment, which can lead to improved overall well-being. Another therapeutic goal might be to enhance distress-tolerance skills. Distress tolerance skills refer to a set of coping strategies that help individuals deal with distressing situations without resorting to problematic behaviors. For example, learning to tolerate distress can be managed by self-soothing techniques, including sensory-based activities, such as taking a warm bath, listening to soothing music, or holding a soft object.

It’s also important to consider the role of trauma in one’s management of bipolar disorder. Trauma-informed therapy is especially important for individuals with bipolar disorder who have experienced childhood trauma. Childhood trauma, including abuse, neglect, and other adverse experiences, is a common factor in the development of bipolar disorder. Trauma-informed therapy can help individuals with bipolar disorder address the root causes of their mental health struggles and develop the skills necessary to move forward in a healthy and productive way. One of the primary goals of trauma-informed therapy is to create a safe and supportive environment in which individuals can explore their experiences without experiencing re-traumatization. This involves an emphasis on creating an environment in which the individual feels comfortable and validated, a process that may include setting clear boundaries, providing opportunities for choice, offering emotional support, and ensuring that the individual feels heard and understood.

Overall, therapy is a highly effective treatment option for individuals with bipolar disorder. Therapy aims to help patients understand and manage their symptoms, develop coping strategies, and improve one’s quality of life. Individuals are able to receive support and guidance on how to manage changes in mood, handle stressors, and stay on track with symptom management. We would be honored to help you in your treatment of bipolar disorder. At River Oaks Psychology, we understand that it can be challenging to navigate the complexities of bipolar disorder on your own, and we’re here to support you in any way possible. Remember that seeking help an act of enormous courage and strength. You deserve to be well.