How Does Psychotherapy Help People With Bipolar Disorder?
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Psychotherapy for Bipolar Disorder- Types and Indications

Published on Mar 14, 2023   -  4 min read


Bipolar disorder is characterized by extreme mood swings, including emotional highs and lows. This article deals with using psychotherapy for bipolar disorder.


Bipolar disorder, previously called manic depression, is a mental health disorder. Bipolar disorder causes extreme mood swings with emotional highs (mania or hypomania) and depression. When people become depressed, they feel sad or desperate and lose interest or fun in most actions. When someone's mood shifts to mania or less extreme than mania (hypomania), they may feel ecstatic, full of energy, or unusually moody. These mood swings can impact sleep, energy, judgment, activity, behavior, and the capacity to think clearly. Outbreaks of mood swings may happen rarely or multiple times a year. People will experience some emotional symptoms between episodes; some may not encounter any. Bipolar disorder is a lifelong condition; One can manage mood swings and other signs by following a treatment plan consisting of medications and psychological counseling called psychotherapy.

What Is Bipolar Disorder?

Bipolar disorder, commonly known as manic depression, is a common psychiatric issue. Its presentation is usually chameleon-like. Therefore, it is not easy to diagnose. It comprises mania, hypomania, and depression.

  1. Mania - Mania is a period of abnormally and persistently elevated irritable mood. This episode should last for at least one week or less if the patient is hospitalized. However, this condition is so intense that it impairs the patient's occupational and social functioning.

  2. Hypomania - Hypomania is a somewhat less severe form of mania that lasts at least four days. It is not as severe as mania to compromise occupational and social functioning. However, it is visibly differentiated from the patient's actual mood.

  3. Depression - Depression is a state of inability to experience normal positive emotions, a sense of desperation, and negative thoughts.

Causes of Bipolar Disorder.

Causes may be genetic, hormonal, or environmental.

  • Genetic - Family history of neuronal illness or first-degree relatives affected with such conditions may give a solid predisposition for bipolar disorder.

  • Hormonal Imbalance - Certain conditions or a long-standing brain disease may cause bipolar disorder.

  • Environmental - When there is a current history of brain trauma, undesired circumstances, or drug misuse, these all affect neurotransmitters in the brain, causing this.

Types of Bipolar Disorder:

There are various types, a few of them are as follows:

  1. Cyclothymia - Sometimes, there is a subclinical condition called cyclothymia in which the patient has a high or low mood without typical depressive or manic attacks.

  2. Bipolar Disorder I is a single episode of mania followed by hypomania, depression, or a mixed state.

  3. Bipolar Disorder II - Bipolar disorder II has no episodes of mania. It only consists of hypomania and depression. Sometimes cyclothymic disorder also occurs.

Risk Factors:

  1. Genetics (first-degree relatives).

  2. Alcohol.

  3. Smoking.

  4. Drug abuse (cocaine).

  5. Caffeine.

  6. Stress.

  7. Trauma.

What Are the Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder?

The bipolar disorder varies from patient to patient and from one episode to the next episode within the same patient. Thus a variety of presentations make it a more complex condition to diagnose. Several cases are left undiagnosed or diagnosed at a very later stage.

Symptoms of Mania:

  • Decreases the need for sleep.

  • Irritability.

  • Pressured speech.

  • Increase sexual desire.

  • Aggressiveness.

  • Behavior without regard for consequences.

  • Overactivity.

Symptoms of Hypomania:

  • Aggressive mood.

  • Increased activity.

  • Increase sex drive.

  • Reduced sleep.

  • Difficulty in focusing on one task.

Symptoms of Depressive State:

  • A feeling of sadness.

  • Sense of desperation.

  • Negative thoughts.

  • Uncontrollable crying.

  • Decrease in sleep or no sleep.

  • Feeling worthless.

  • Suicidal thoughts.

What Is Psychotherapy?

Psychotherapy is a treatment method that focuses on changing how a person thinks and acts. It is an adjuvant to medicinal treatments in many psychological conditions where a trained person modifies an individual's thought process and behavioral approach towards incidences and life.

As bipolar disorder progresses, the patient faces issues in their day-to-day social life, including emotional disturbances, fear of recurrence of illness, interpersonal difficulties, issues related to marriage, family, child-bearing and parenting, and academics. Or occupational problems. To overcome these problems, psychotherapy is required, along with proper medication. Psychotherapy includes:

  • Psychoeducation.

  • CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy).

  • IPT/SRT (interpersonal therapy or social rhythm therapy).

  • FFT (Family-focused therapy).

  • Different support groups.

How Does Psychotherapy Help People With Bipolar Disorder?

Mental health has been a crucial topic of discussion for the past few years as the stress developing due to work culture and lifestyle modifications have been reported to increase the number of patients with stress and anxiety disorders. Patients diagnosed with bipolar disorder, eating disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder seek help at various stages of these disorders to deal with the problems, heal mentally and lead a healthy life. In some individuals, psychotherapy also helps in the rehabilitation phase, as any physical disease weakens a person mentally. A completely healthy-looking individual can also be a victim of anxiety or struggle with personal, family, and social relationships and require therapeutic help to deal with it, and this is where psychotherapy plays an important role.

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT):

It mainly focuses on changing an individual's approach and thought process in certain circumstances to help them lead healthy and happy lives. Many pieces of research have proved it effective in most individuals with mental health issues like anxiety and depression. In addition, it is considered helpful when a person needs to treat unhealthy or toxic thoughts that hinder the way to success in life.

Psychodynamic Therapy: This is mainly verbal therapy; a person mainly healing through conversation to understand the thought process in detail. Psychodynamic therapy focuses on understanding the thought process and learning to alter it to cope with difficult situations better. It mainly focuses on enhancing the understanding of unconscious thoughts and developing new insights to resolve conflicts.

Interpersonal Psychotherapy: helps a person deal with personal relationship problems by undergoing several counseling sessions that help you understand how you deal with friends, family, spouse, colleagues, etc.


Psychotherapy is one of the most important treatment modalities for people dealing with mental health issues like anxiety, depression, bad breakups, divorce, or other conditions like bipolar disorder or schizophrenia. Along with medicinal treatment, psychotherapy helps to fasten the healing process by replacing toxic thoughts with healthy ones and directing an individual toward a better and happy life.

Last reviewed at:
14 Mar 2023  -  4 min read




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