Which Treatment is Best for Which Bipolar Disorder?

by

Have you ever felt that your emotions are running the show and you have no control? It’s possible that you may be struggling with bipolar disorder, a mental health condition characterized by extreme mood swings, oscillating between emotional highs and lows.

A diagnosis of bipolar disorder always requires treatment. If you’re struggling with bipolar and don’t know where to start, this article will provide an overview of bipolar disorder treatment types so you can discern which is the best for you.

A note on treatment

Bipolar disorder treatment, like intervention for any mental health condition, is always supervised and guided by trained professionals. This means that when you start treatment, you’ll go through an assessment which determines the most appropriate level of care for your needs. 

Don’t fret because it’s not up to you to pick the perfect level of care. This article is only meant as an overview so you can recognize the different bipolar disorder treatment types.

Understanding bipolar disorder

When people talk about bipolar disorder, they are usually lumping the two distinct diagnoses together. According to the American Psychological Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, which is used by clinicians to identify and treat mental illness, bipolar is a category that includes three conditions.

Bipolar I

This disorder is characterized by periods of depression (lows) and hypomania or mania (highs) with psychotic episodes. The hallmark of bipolar I is a psychotic episode (a break from reality) that is so intense it requires hospitalization, or lasts more than seven days.

Bipolar II

This disorder is characterized by alternating periods of depression and hypomania (this is less severe than mania). These episodes are similar to bipolar I, but are less intense and do not disrupt functioning to the same degree or endanger a person.

Cyclothymic disorder

This disorder is characterized by brief periods of depression and mania that occur in a cyclical pattern.

Each of these three types of bipolar disorder manifests with changes in mood, energy and activity levels. During a “high” period, a person will feel happy, energetic, motivated and hyperaroused. Often, someone in a manic period will overexert him or herself or experience delusions.

A “low” period involves feeling depressed, hopeless and lethargic. Individuals are often first diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder due to these symptoms. A person may forgo sleep, eating or a normal routine during either hypomanic or depressive periods due to mood and energy change. 

Bipolar disorder treatment types

Due to three distinct diagnoses under the umbrella of bipolar disorder, we’ll outline three potential treatment pathways for full recovery. These are not prescriptive for your unique situation, they’re simply example scenarios.

Bipolar I

A psychotic episode may require hospitalization for a few days, but typically less than a week except in cases of severe injury. Once the body’s condition is stabilized, a person may attend an inpatient program. Inpatient means residential, and overnight stays allow for constant medical supervision and mental health support while coming off a psychotic episode.

A typical inpatient stay is around two weeks. This treatment includes counseling, life skills education and group psychotherapy to learn how to manage the disorder and its symptoms. During this period, a doctor will assess whether medication is appropriate and make a recommendation for continuing care.

Bipolar II

While all mental health conditions are worthy of treatment, bipolar II does not require the same caliber of intervention as bipolar I. Treatment for bipolar II may begin with outpatient treatment instead of inpatient and consist mainly of counseling.

It’s common for patients with any type of bipolar disease to be prescribed medication to help with managing symptoms. Medication can help someone with bipolar II to stabilize mood and keep the highs and lows more moderate. Mood stabilizer, antipsychotics and antidepressants are all common in bipolar disorder treatment.

Cyclothymic disorder

Treatment for cyclothymic disorder is similar to treatment for bipolar II, but it will be modified to address the cyclical nature of this condition. Due to the fact that the hypomanic and depressive episodes are so brief, psychotherapy will focus on handling the abrupt changes this disorder brings.

There are other bipolar disorder treatment types, like electroconvulsive therapy, which stimulates the brain while a person is under anesthesia. This treatment uses electric currents when other treatments have proven ineffective, and only provides temporary relief according to the National Institute of Mental Health. 

Another form of treatment is transcranial magnetic stimulation, which is also a brain stimulation treatment. This experimental treatment uses magnetic waves to stimulate the brain.

Getting started now

All bipolar types are life-long disorders. While leading a fulfilling and happy life is possible, you’ll want to start treatment today for your best shot at success. Get connected to professional help with High Focus Centers and fill out a contact form now.