Non-drug Therapies to Treat Bipolar Disorder

Reviewed Oct 19, 2017

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Summary

  • Talk and non-talk therapies can be used.
  • Alternative treatments need more research.
  • Do not stop taking medications.

Talk therapies

Psychotherapy, also called talk therapy, is often used along with medicine to treat bipolar disorder. Talk therapy consists of many different forms.

Individual therapy, or counseling, gives help on a one-on-one basis. The person with this condition is taught proper coping skills to deal with her illness. This may include learning things like healthy eating habits and regular sleep routines. The therapist will also help the individual to work through her depressive thoughts.

Family support is vital to a person’s recovery. Therefore, it is recommended that family members also take part in counseling. This begins with learning about the disease. The family learns how to look for signs of oncoming bipolar episodes, in order to help their loved one get help more quickly. Families are also taught how best to care for and support the individual, as well as themselves.

Group therapy brings individuals with this condition together to talk about their lived experiences. Members support each other through their success stories. They can also comfort each other by sharing their failures. Just hearing that someone else struggles with the same things can be very helpful. Group therapy lets you know that you are not alone in the fight.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT)

CBT is a type of talk therapy that can be helpful in treating bipolar disorder. It mixes cognitive and behavioral therapy. Cognitive therapy deals with changing thoughts to change actions and mood. Behavior therapy deals with changing actions to change behavior. CBT helps the person to point out mood swings and avoid relapse.

Interpersonal and social rhythm therapy (IPSRT)

IPSRT treats the condition by focusing on healthy routines and relationships. Individuals are taught to form regular patterns for sleeping and for taking their medicine. They also learn problem-solving and people skills.

Non-talk therapies

Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is used when drugs and talk therapy do not reach desired results. This is typically for severe cases of bipolar disorder. It involves sending an electrical impulse to the brain. This procedure calls for the use of anesthesia. Short-term side effects, such as memory loss and confusion, may happen. These most often subside soon after treatment. ECT can be used to treat both mania and depression. Advantages are that it's 70-80 percent effective.
 
Alternative treatments

Not enough research has been done on alternative treatments for people with this illness. Omega-3 fatty acids may give some benefit for minor depression. But, these and other natural and herbal remedies may not be helpful and could even be harmful. Some may not react well with other drugs that are prescribed. In some cases, they may set off a mania episode. Those diagnosed with this condition should not take any supplements without first consulting their doctor.
 
Medication congruency

Non-drug therapies are not meant to treat bipolar disorder alone. Drugs and talk therapy are most often the first course of action.

Pills must be taken exactly as prescribed and can be preventative for further episodes. This will help you get the best results. Do not stop taking medicine without consulting your doctor. Serious problems can result from stopping your medicine or taking it incorrectly.

Resources

The Balanced Mind Foundation
www.dbsalliance.org/site/PageServer?pagename=bmpn_landing

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance
www.dbsalliance.org

National Institute of Mental Health/Bipolar Disorder
www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/bipolar-disorder/index.shtml

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
Call the toll-free, 24-hour hotline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255) to talk with a trained counselor.

By Kevin Rizzo
Source: National Institute of Mental Health, www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/psychotherapies/index.shtml, www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/bipolar-disorder/complete-index.shtml; National Library of Medicine National Institute of Health, www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000926.htm; American Psychiatric Association, Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition
Reviewed by Cynthia Scott, MD, Physician Advisor, Beacon Health Options

Summary

  • Talk and non-talk therapies can be used.
  • Alternative treatments need more research.
  • Do not stop taking medications.

Talk therapies

Psychotherapy, also called talk therapy, is often used along with medicine to treat bipolar disorder. Talk therapy consists of many different forms.

Individual therapy, or counseling, gives help on a one-on-one basis. The person with this condition is taught proper coping skills to deal with her illness. This may include learning things like healthy eating habits and regular sleep routines. The therapist will also help the individual to work through her depressive thoughts.

Family support is vital to a person’s recovery. Therefore, it is recommended that family members also take part in counseling. This begins with learning about the disease. The family learns how to look for signs of oncoming bipolar episodes, in order to help their loved one get help more quickly. Families are also taught how best to care for and support the individual, as well as themselves.

Group therapy brings individuals with this condition together to talk about their lived experiences. Members support each other through their success stories. They can also comfort each other by sharing their failures. Just hearing that someone else struggles with the same things can be very helpful. Group therapy lets you know that you are not alone in the fight.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT)

CBT is a type of talk therapy that can be helpful in treating bipolar disorder. It mixes cognitive and behavioral therapy. Cognitive therapy deals with changing thoughts to change actions and mood. Behavior therapy deals with changing actions to change behavior. CBT helps the person to point out mood swings and avoid relapse.

Interpersonal and social rhythm therapy (IPSRT)

IPSRT treats the condition by focusing on healthy routines and relationships. Individuals are taught to form regular patterns for sleeping and for taking their medicine. They also learn problem-solving and people skills.

Non-talk therapies

Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is used when drugs and talk therapy do not reach desired results. This is typically for severe cases of bipolar disorder. It involves sending an electrical impulse to the brain. This procedure calls for the use of anesthesia. Short-term side effects, such as memory loss and confusion, may happen. These most often subside soon after treatment. ECT can be used to treat both mania and depression. Advantages are that it's 70-80 percent effective.
 
Alternative treatments

Not enough research has been done on alternative treatments for people with this illness. Omega-3 fatty acids may give some benefit for minor depression. But, these and other natural and herbal remedies may not be helpful and could even be harmful. Some may not react well with other drugs that are prescribed. In some cases, they may set off a mania episode. Those diagnosed with this condition should not take any supplements without first consulting their doctor.
 
Medication congruency

Non-drug therapies are not meant to treat bipolar disorder alone. Drugs and talk therapy are most often the first course of action.

Pills must be taken exactly as prescribed and can be preventative for further episodes. This will help you get the best results. Do not stop taking medicine without consulting your doctor. Serious problems can result from stopping your medicine or taking it incorrectly.

Resources

The Balanced Mind Foundation
www.dbsalliance.org/site/PageServer?pagename=bmpn_landing

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance
www.dbsalliance.org

National Institute of Mental Health/Bipolar Disorder
www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/bipolar-disorder/index.shtml

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
Call the toll-free, 24-hour hotline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255) to talk with a trained counselor.

By Kevin Rizzo
Source: National Institute of Mental Health, www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/psychotherapies/index.shtml, www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/bipolar-disorder/complete-index.shtml; National Library of Medicine National Institute of Health, www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000926.htm; American Psychiatric Association, Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition
Reviewed by Cynthia Scott, MD, Physician Advisor, Beacon Health Options

Summary

  • Talk and non-talk therapies can be used.
  • Alternative treatments need more research.
  • Do not stop taking medications.

Talk therapies

Psychotherapy, also called talk therapy, is often used along with medicine to treat bipolar disorder. Talk therapy consists of many different forms.

Individual therapy, or counseling, gives help on a one-on-one basis. The person with this condition is taught proper coping skills to deal with her illness. This may include learning things like healthy eating habits and regular sleep routines. The therapist will also help the individual to work through her depressive thoughts.

Family support is vital to a person’s recovery. Therefore, it is recommended that family members also take part in counseling. This begins with learning about the disease. The family learns how to look for signs of oncoming bipolar episodes, in order to help their loved one get help more quickly. Families are also taught how best to care for and support the individual, as well as themselves.

Group therapy brings individuals with this condition together to talk about their lived experiences. Members support each other through their success stories. They can also comfort each other by sharing their failures. Just hearing that someone else struggles with the same things can be very helpful. Group therapy lets you know that you are not alone in the fight.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT)

CBT is a type of talk therapy that can be helpful in treating bipolar disorder. It mixes cognitive and behavioral therapy. Cognitive therapy deals with changing thoughts to change actions and mood. Behavior therapy deals with changing actions to change behavior. CBT helps the person to point out mood swings and avoid relapse.

Interpersonal and social rhythm therapy (IPSRT)

IPSRT treats the condition by focusing on healthy routines and relationships. Individuals are taught to form regular patterns for sleeping and for taking their medicine. They also learn problem-solving and people skills.

Non-talk therapies

Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is used when drugs and talk therapy do not reach desired results. This is typically for severe cases of bipolar disorder. It involves sending an electrical impulse to the brain. This procedure calls for the use of anesthesia. Short-term side effects, such as memory loss and confusion, may happen. These most often subside soon after treatment. ECT can be used to treat both mania and depression. Advantages are that it's 70-80 percent effective.
 
Alternative treatments

Not enough research has been done on alternative treatments for people with this illness. Omega-3 fatty acids may give some benefit for minor depression. But, these and other natural and herbal remedies may not be helpful and could even be harmful. Some may not react well with other drugs that are prescribed. In some cases, they may set off a mania episode. Those diagnosed with this condition should not take any supplements without first consulting their doctor.
 
Medication congruency

Non-drug therapies are not meant to treat bipolar disorder alone. Drugs and talk therapy are most often the first course of action.

Pills must be taken exactly as prescribed and can be preventative for further episodes. This will help you get the best results. Do not stop taking medicine without consulting your doctor. Serious problems can result from stopping your medicine or taking it incorrectly.

Resources

The Balanced Mind Foundation
www.dbsalliance.org/site/PageServer?pagename=bmpn_landing

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance
www.dbsalliance.org

National Institute of Mental Health/Bipolar Disorder
www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/bipolar-disorder/index.shtml

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
Call the toll-free, 24-hour hotline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255) to talk with a trained counselor.

By Kevin Rizzo
Source: National Institute of Mental Health, www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/psychotherapies/index.shtml, www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/bipolar-disorder/complete-index.shtml; National Library of Medicine National Institute of Health, www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000926.htm; American Psychiatric Association, Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition
Reviewed by Cynthia Scott, MD, Physician Advisor, Beacon Health Options

The information provided on the Achieve Solutions site, including, but not limited to, articles, quizzes, and other general information, is for informational purposes only and should not be treated as medical, health care, psychiatric, psychological or behavioral health care advice. Nothing contained on the Achieve Solutions site is intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment or as a substitute for consultation with a qualified health care professional. Please direct questions regarding the operation of the Achieve Solutions site to Web Feedback. If you have concerns about your health, please contact your health care provider.  ©2017 Beacon Health Options, Inc.

 

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