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Bipolar Disorder Overview

Other Treatments for Bipolar Disorder
Group therapy has proven helpful for many.
Group therapy has proven helpful for many.
Daly & Newton/Getty Images

Various therapies have proven helpful for bipolar patients as a supplement to medicinal treatment. Taking part in any of the following can lessen the severity and give the patient more control over symptoms:  

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: Used for various disorders, this therapy aims to change the patient's perceptions and habits. By changing how bipolar patients think about the illness and encouraging positive attitudes, cognitive behavioral therapy can make effective improvements. This therapy also usually involves learning more about bipolar disorder, which helps patients become more confident and knowledgeable about how to treat it.
  • Family Therapy: The patient's family participates in this therapy with the patient. By identifying sources of stress and conflicts, the family can learn to better address them and thereby offer the patient a better and more encouraging environment.
  • Group Therapy: This therapy offers an opportunity for several people with bipolar disorder to gather in a group led by a psychologist. In the group sessions, the members discuss their experiences with the illness and offer feedback for one another.   
  • Interpersonal and Social Rhythm Therapy: As the name implies, the purpose of this therapy is to improve relationships and encourage habits of regular routine (such as a sleep schedule). Both of these factors have a large impact on moods. Studies show that this therapy helps prevent relapse of bipolar disorder that might have been brought on by unhealthy relationships and irregular habits [source: Kupfer].
  • Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT): Though it still carries a stigma, ECT is an effective treatment and is much safer than it used to be. Using ECT, doctors induce seizures in patients, which last up to a minute long [source: MayoClinic]. After repeated treatment, ECT is effective against many mental disorders. It works by altering the behavior of chemicals in the brain. However, scientists don't quite know how or why it works.

In addition to these therapies, it's a good idea to avoid drugs and alcohol, as they can potentially trigger an episode. 

As we've seen, just learning more about the disorder might provide comfort and hope. Bipolar patients should realize that they are not alone and that it is a treatable condition. Various kinds of research and advancements in technology that allow for more precise studies of the brain offer promising signs that the disorder will continue to get more manageable. To learn more about related subjects, such as the brain and how it is studied, read the links on the next page.