Psychotherapy for Bipolar Disorder

Table of Contents


The complexity of bipolar disorder as a psychological condition warranted extensive research in this area. The condition, also known as manic-depressive disorder, is linked to severe mood swings from one extreme to another as well as fluctuating energy and activity levels. Bipolar disorder exists in four forms: bipolar I, bipolar II, cyclothymic disorder (cyclothymia), and other related disorders that do not match the symptoms of the other three categories. Those subjected to the condition experience unexpected emotional bursts and may act strangely. Medication, as well as psychotherapy, represent the main treatment methods.

Types of Bipolar Disorders

In order to understand the bipolar disorder in greater detail, it is first important to differentiate between its existing types. Bipolar I is a condition defined by the occurrence of manic symptoms that take place at least seven days or by cases that are so severe that the individual requires emergency hospital care. Depressive symptoms are also expected to occur and last at least two weeks. In addition, episodes of mixed nature (depressive and manic) are also possible.

Bipolar II disorder is less severe compared to the I type; however, it is also defined by the existing pattern of depressive and hypomanic episodes that are not accompanied by extensive manic symptoms. Cyclothymic disorder is associated with numerous instances of hypomanic and depressive symptoms lasting at least two years. Nevertheless, these symptoms usually do not meet the diagnostic criteria for the mentioned episodes. Other related (specified and unspecified) bipolar disorders are associated with symptoms that do not match any of those listed above.

Predisposing Factors

Predisposing factors to bipolar disorder can range from genetics to brain functioning. For instance, studies have shown that the brain structure of individuals diagnosed with bipolar disorder is different from the brains of healthy people. In terms of genetics, there are hypotheses that bipolar disorder can develop in people with certain genes. However, even in twins, the condition does not always develop in two people despite them sharing the same genes. Family history is another factor although its influence is as controversial as in the case of genetics.


The symptoms of bipolar are complex since they usually interchange and reach two extremes. On the one hand, there are episodes of mania characterized by euphoria, lack of sleep, intense activity, risky, and agitated behavior (National Institute of Mental Health, 2016). Such symptoms may be disruptive to the people who are close to an individual with manic behavior and cause subsequent relationship issues. Mania may also lead to a break from reality and require an immediate hospitalization of a patient. Hypomania is a less severe form of mania and can include the same symptoms such as jumpiness, agitation, euphoria, talkativeness, and others but to a lesser degree.

On the other hand, bipolar disorder implies the occurrence of depressive episodes, which cause an individual noticeable difficulty in professional and personal life (Mayo Clinic Staff, 2018). A depressive episode is characterized by such symptoms as sadness, hopelessness, tearfulness, the loss of interest in usual life activities, decrease or increase of appetite, insomnia or too much sleep, the loss of energy, the feeling of worthlessness, guilt, decreased concentration, and suicidal thoughts. In addition, the mentioned symptoms of manic and depressive symptoms can be accompanied by anxiety, melancholy, psychosis, and other psychological conditions.


The treatment of the bipolar disorder is usually differentiated into medicine prescriptions and psychotherapy. Depending on the severity of the condition as well as the spectrum of symptoms that a patient experiences, a healthcare professional may prescribe different medications. The key to success, in this case, is ensuring that the patient sticks to the treatment. Mood stabilizing medications are used for preventing manic and depressive symptoms as well as helping the mood not interfering with patients’ professional and personal lives. Examples of such medications include Carbamazepine, Divalproex sodium, Lamotrigine, Lithium, and Valproic acid (“Medications for bipolar disorder,”).

Antipsychotic drugs can also be prescribed alone or in conjunction with mood stabilizers to address bipolar symptoms. These include Risperidone, Loxapine, and Haloperidol (“Medications for bipolar disorder,” n.d.). Psychotherapy is another method of dealing with the disorder and includes family-focused, interactive, cognitive-behavioral therapy. The main goal of therapy for bipolar disorder is to decrease the burden of the condition as well as reduce the occurrence of replacements (Swartz & Swanson, 2014).


In conclusion, it is important to mention that bipolar disorder has an adverse influence on the quality of people diagnosed with the condition. It can affect personal relationships with close people, decrease productivity on the job, which is subsequently limiting to the overall personal success. The various symptoms that characterize bipolar disorder range from the instances of elevated (manic) mood to the lowest points (depressive) that can extend as far as including suicidal thoughts. Therapy and medication prescription represent the most viable methods of managing bipolar disorder and thus have been approved in a variety of contexts and in patients with different backgrounds and health histories.


Mayo Clinic Staff. (2018). . Web.

. (n.d.). Web.

National Institute of Mental Health. (2016). Bipolar disorder. Web.

Swartz, H. A., & Swanson, J. (2014). Psychotherapy for bipolar disorder in adults: A review of the evidence. Focus (American Psychiatric Publishing), 12(3), 251-266.

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