Every year, about 3% of Americans will experience symptoms of bipolar disorder. This commonly-misunderstood disorder actually comes in four different types. Because it’s a complicated condition, successful treatment bipolar disorders usually involves a combination of medication and talk therapy. When unmanaged, bipolar disorder can result in episodes that range from hypomania (trouble sleeping, loss of appetite) to full-blown mania, which can involve compulsive shopping, sexual behavior, or other irresponsible, impulsive behavior. The other “pole” is depression, which can also range from mild to cripplingly severe. Without professional help, unmanaged bipolar symptoms can make it very difficult to maintain stable employment or personal relationships. In general, the earlier treatment is started, the better the outcome will be.
How can therapy help?
Because bipolar sufferers can experience such a rollercoaster of psychological states, talk therapy is especially useful in helping patients cope with and manage emotions. Therapy can also work to help bipolar patients identify triggers and live an emotionally and physically stable lifestyle, which lessens the chance of mood disruptions. Additionally, therapists can work with patients to develop the self-awareness to understand when an episode is coming on, so that supportive measures can be taken before it becomes out-of-control.