What Types Of Therapy Are Used To Treat Bipolar Disorder
Psychotherapy, also called talk therapy, can be an effective part of the treatment plan for people with bipolar disorder.
Psychotherapy is a term for a variety of treatment techniques that aim to help you identify and change troubling emotions, thoughts and behaviors. Working with a mental health professional, such as a psychologist or psychiatrist, can provide support, education and guidance to you and your family.
Different types of therapy for bipolar disorder include:
What Should I Do Before I See The Doctor About Bipolar Disorder
Before meeting with your doctor to clarify a diagnosis, itâs helpful to write down the symptoms you notice that may reflect depression, hypomania, or mania. Particular attention should focus not just on mood but also changes in sleep, energy, thinking, speech, and behavior. It is also useful to get an in-depth family history from relatives before meeting with your doctor. A family history can be very helpful in supporting a suspected diagnosis and prescribing appropriate treatments.
In addition, consider bringing your spouse or a close friend with you to the doctorâs visit. Oftentimes, a family member or friend may be more aware of a personâs unusual behaviors and be able to describe these in detail to the doctor. Before your visit, think about and record the following:
- Your mental and physical health concerns
- Symptoms youâve noticed
- Causes of stress in your life
- Questions you may have about bipolar disorder
Preparing For An Adult Bipolar Disorder Diagnosis
If you think you may have bipolar disorder, you can start by visiting a healthcare professional. They will likely do a physical examination, discuss your medical history, and ask you some basic questions about your symptoms, family history, and life experiences.
If your healthcare professional believes you may have bipolar disorder, they will probably refer you to a psychiatrist who will do a more detailed mental health evaluation. Some of the questions a psychiatrist may ask include:
- What symptoms are you experiencing?
- What are your thoughts and feelings like during a manic or depressive episode?
- Do you feel in control of your mania or how long an episode lasts?
- When did you first start experiencing these symptoms?
- Do you ever have suicidal thoughts or thoughts of self-harm?
- Do you have a history of substance misuse?
- Did anyone in your family have similar symptoms or a diagnosis of bipolar disorder?
They might also ask your permission to ask friends and family about your behavior.
The diagnosis for bipolar disorder requires at least one depressive and one manic or hypomanic episode. Any diagnosis will take into account other aspects of your medical history and the medications youve taken.
- emotional outbursts
- periods of sadness
- How often does your child have emotional outbursts?
- How many hours does your child sleep a day?
- How often does your child have periods of aggression and irritability?
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What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Bipolar Disorder
The defining sign of bipolar I disorder is a manic episode that lasts at least one week, while people with bipolar II disorder or cyclothymia experience hypomanic episodes.
But many people with bipolar disorder experience both hypomanic/manic and depressive episodes. These changing mood states dont always follow a set pattern, and depression doesnt always follow manic phases. A person may also experience the same mood state several times with periods of euthymia in between before experiencing the opposite mood.
Mood changes in bipolar disorder can happen over a period of weeks, months and sometimes even years.
An important aspect of the mood changes is that theyre a departure from your regular self and that the mood change is sustained for a long time. It may be many days or weeks in the case of mania and many weeks or months in the case of depression.
The severity of the depressive and manic phases can differ from person to person and in the same person at different times.
Signs and symptoms of manic episodes
Some people with bipolar disorder will have episodes of mania or hypomania many times throughout their life others may experience them only rarely.
Signs and symptoms of a manic episode include:
Most of the time, people experiencing a manic episode are unaware of the negative consequences of their actions. With bipolar disorder, suicide is an ever-present danger some people become suicidal in manic episodes, not just depressive episodes.
What Will My Doctor Ask Me
To make a diagnosis of bipolar disorder, your doctor will ask you about:
- How many symptoms you experience
- Which types of mood episodes you experience
- How long your mood episodes last for
- How many mood episodes you’ve had
- How often your mood episodes occur
- How your symptoms impact your life
- Your family history
They may also:
- Ask you to keep a diary of your moods to help you both identify patterns and triggers.
- Check up on your physical health. For example, some conditions like thyroid problems can cause mania-like symptoms.
Only a mental health professional like a psychiatrist can give you a bipolar disorder diagnosis not your GP.
However, if you’re experiencing bipolar moods and symptoms, discussing it with your GP can be a good first step. They can refer you to a psychiatrist, who will be able to assess you.
For more information see our pages on seeking help for a mental health problem.
Once properly diagnosed, I knew the cause. I understood that I was someone with an illness. I was not a failure, not a bad person.
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Is My Child Bipolar Quiz: Bipolar Child Questionnaire
If you suspect your child may have bipolar disorder, youll want a quiz to determine, Is my child bipolar? Determining whether you child has bipolar disorder or another mental illness always needs to be done by a mental health professional such as a psychiatrist, but a childhood bipolar questionnaire can point you in the direction of seeking a formal diagnosis or not.
Can Bipolar Disorder Run In The Family
Yes, a family history of bipolar disorder is the most influential risk factor for bipolar disorder. If youre concerned about your mental health symptoms, make sure to ask grandparents or older family members if they remember anyone else in the family facing similar struggles.
Your doctor will ask about your familys history of mental health during your diagnosis.
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How Can I Help My Child Or Teen
Help begins with the right diagnosis and treatment. Talk to your family health care provider about any symptoms you notice.
If your child has bipolar disorder, here are some basic things you can do:
- Be patient.
- Encourage your child to talk, and listen to your child carefully.
- Pay attention to your childs moods, and be alert to any major changes.
- Understand triggers, and learn strategies for managing intense emotions and irritability.
- Help your child have fun.
- Remember that treatment takes time: sticking with the treatment plan can help your child get better and stay better.
- Help your child understand that treatment can make life better.
Challenges With Getting A Diagnosis
The symptoms of bipolar disorder can overlap with other mental health problems. Different people may experience or express their symptoms in different ways. And professionals do not always get it right.
Because of this, you might:
- Not get a diagnosis of bipolar disorder when you feel you should have one.
- Get a diagnosis of a different mental health problem, which you don’t agree with.
- Get a diagnosis of bipolar disorder that you think is incorrect.
Even if you think your diagnosis is correct, you may still feel that it doesn’t completely fit your experiences.
If you are unhappy or concerned about your diagnosis, it’s important to discuss this with your doctor.
You can make sure your voice is heard, seek a second opinion and take steps if you’re not happy with your doctor. For more information, see our pages on:
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What Are Manic Episodes
There are two different types of manic episodes: mania and hypomania. They share the same symptoms but differ in severity mania being more severe.
Both manic and hypomanic episodes will include three or more of the following:
- Uncontrollable energy
- Sense of worthlessness or guilt
- Shortened attention span and problems remembering things
- Thoughts that bounce from one idea to the next
- Lack of interest in activities that usually bring joy
- Thoughts of, or plans of committing suicide
Whats The Difference Between Borderline Personality Disorder And Bipolar Disorder
While borderline personality disorder and bipolar disorder have similar symptoms and are often confused for each other, theyre distinct conditions.
BPD involves a longstanding pattern of abrupt, moment-to-moment swings in moods, behavior and self-image that are often triggered by conflicts in interactions with other people. Nonsuicidal self-injury is also common in BPD but not in bipolar disorder.
Bipolar disorder is different from BPD because it involves distinct, longer-lasting episodes of mania/hypomania and/or depression. Several things can trigger manic or depressive episodes, such as sleep changes, stress, medications and substance use.
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The Child Bipolar Questionnaire Instructions
According to the Juvenile Bipolar Research Foundation, the following are the instructions for the Child Bipolar Questionnaire Version 2:
My child has and/or had the following symptoms and/or behaviors. You may have noticed a behavior from as far back as early childhood or you may have observed it more recently. In either case, estimate how frequently the behavior has occurred since you first noticed it. In other words, please rate the symptoms and/or behaviors as they were at their most severe and/or prior to your child starting medication.
Then select a number in the Frequency column using the following key:
- Never or hardly ever 1
- Sometimes 2
Symptoms Of A Mixed Episode
A mixed episode of bipolar disorder features symptoms of both mania or hypomania and depression. Common signs of a mixed episode include depression combined with agitation, irritability, anxiety, insomnia, distractibility, and racing thoughts. This combination of high energy and low mood makes for a particularly high risk of suicide.
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What Are The Different Types Of Bipolar Disorder
Mental health professionals distinguish between 2 main types of bipolar disorder:
- Bipolar I This is characterised by extreme, long-lasting highs as well as depressive episodes, and may include psychosis .
- Bipolar II This is characterised by highs that are less extreme that only last or a few hours or days, as well as depressive episodes, and periods of normal mood.
Other types of bipolar disorder include cyclothymic disorder and substance-induced bipolar disorder .
CHECK YOUR SYMPTOMS Try the Black Dog Institutes self-test to see if you have symptoms that may indicate bipolar disorder.
About Your Mental Health
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Diagnosis Of Bipolar Disorder
In the United States, doctors do not diagnose bipolar disorder formally. You can define this disorder by distinctive symptoms. These are may be difficult to identify in certain situations. After the following conditions, psychologist-or-psychiatrist generally make a diagnosis of bipolar disorder:
- You must have previously had a manic episode.
- A history of depressive symptoms appears in a persons medical records.
- Individuals with bipolar disorder frequently or throughout most of their life experience manic symptoms, according to current or past evidence.
Because detecting bipolar disorder takes many versions, the diagnosis process may take years. This is because a manic episode is defined as a period of abnormally elevated mood or euphoria. This interferes with an individuals functioning and social life, it is difficult to diagnose someone who has only had one. Even if a person fulfills all of the criteria for bipolar disorder, he or she must be examined by a mental health professional. This is to receive an accurate diagnosis.
What Medications Are Used To Treat Bipolar Disorder
Certain medications can help manage symptoms of bipolar disorder. You may need to try several different medications, with guidance from your healthcare provider, before finding what works best.
Medications healthcare providers generally prescribe to treat bipolar disorder include:
- Mood stabilizers.
- Second-generation neuroleptics .
If youre taking medication for bipolar disorder, you should:
- Talk with your healthcare provider to understand the risks, side effects and benefits of the medication.
- Tell your healthcare provider about any prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications or supplements youre already taking.
- Tell your healthcare provider right away if youre experiencing concerning side effects. They may need to change your dose or try a different medication.
- Remember that medication for bipolar disorder must be taken consistently, as prescribed.
Mood stabilizers for bipolar disorder
People with bipolar disorder typically need mood-stabilizing medication to manage manic or hypomanic episodes.
Types of mood stabilizers and their brand names include:
Thyroid gland and kidney problems can sometimes develop when taking lithium, so your healthcare provider will monitor the function of your thyroid and kidneys, as well as monitor the levels of lithium in your blood, as levels can easily become too high.
However, other medications, such as olanzapine , risperidone and aripiprazole , are commonly prescribed as well.
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How Does Bipolar Disorder Affect People
At times, people with bipolar disorder go through depression. Other times, they go through manic moods. They may have normal moods in between.
When they go through depression, people with bipolar will:
- have a sad or irritable mood that lasts for at least 2 weeks
Added to that, they may:
- feel hopeless or worthless
- use poor judgment, do things they shouldnt do
- try risky behaviors
- think of themselves in inflated ways or think they have superpowers
Going through these two types of extreme moods is hard on a person. Bipolar moods can make it harder to get along well with others. It can be a challenge to succeed at goals.
Bipolar can cloud peoples judgment and lead them to take unsafe risks. It can cause problems they didnt expect and didnt intend. Some people might be more likely to self-harm or try suicide. They may drink alcohol or use drugs.
Thats why it matters to get the right diagnosis and treatment for bipolar moods. It can help reverse or prevent problems like these.
Moods dont have to run a persons life. With treatment, people with bipolar can learn to manage their moods and symptoms. This helps them feel and do better in things that matter to them.
Treatment For Bipolar Disorder
If you spot the symptoms of bipolar disorder in yourself or someone else, dont wait to get help. Ignoring the problem wont make it go away in fact, it will almost certainly get worse. Living with untreated bipolar disorder can lead to problems in everything from your career to your relationships to your health. But bipolar disorder is highly treatable, so diagnosing the problem and starting treatment as early as possible can help prevent these complications.
If youre reluctant to seek treatment because you like the way you feel when youre manic, remember that the energy and euphoria come with a price. Mania and hypomania often turn destructive, hurting you and the people around you.
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Causes & Risk Factors
The precise causes of bipolar disorder are unknown. However, there is strong evidence that biological factors, including genetics, play an important role. Stress or difficult family relationships do not cause the illness. However, these factors may trigger an episode in someone who already has the illness.
Ruling Out Other Conditions
There are no specific blood tests or brain scans to diagnose bipolar disorder. Even so, a doctor may perform a physical exam and order lab tests, including a thyroid function test and urine analyses. These tests can help determine if other conditions or factors could be causing your symptoms.
A thyroid function test is a blood test that measures how well your thyroid gland functions. The thyroid produces and secretes hormones that help regulate many bodily functions.
If your body does not receive enough of the thyroid hormone, which is known as hypothyroidism, your brain may not function as expected. As a result, you may have problems with depressive symptoms or develop a mood disorder.
Sometimes, certain thyroid issues cause symptoms that are similar to those of bipolar disorder. Symptoms may also be a side effect of medications. After other possible causes are ruled out, your doctor will likely refer you to a mental health specialist.
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How Long Will Diagnosis Take
As bipolar disorder involves changes in your moods over time, your doctor may want to observe you for a while before making a diagnosis.
Your doctor will want to be careful that they give you the correct diagnosis. Bipolar disorder has some symptoms in common with other mental health problems, such as:
Because of this, it might take a long time to get a correct diagnosis sometimes it can take years.
The trouble with bipolar is that sometimes it can go undiagnosed. You don’t go to the doctor to tell them you are feeling extremely happy. That you’ve got so much energy and can conquer the world .
If you drive, you need to tell the Driver & Vehicle Licensing Agency that you have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder.
For more information on your right to drive, including when and how to contact the DVLA, see our legal pages on fitness to drive.