How do you treat bipolar?

Kelly Davis, Mental Health America

For most, some combination of therapy, lifestyle changes, medication, and support are helpful for treating bipolar disorder. It may take some time to discover what works, but it is worth it.

Therapy: Group and individual therapy can be great resources. Find a therapist who has experience with and knowledge about moods disorders, bipolar disorder, and anything else you might need help with. This could include trauma, addiction, or family issues. Specific types of therapy that can help are Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), and family-focused therapies.

Lifestyle changes: Many habits can seriously impact mood. Making sure you get regular sleep, eat a healthy diet, exercise regularly, and reduce or eliminate the use of caffeine, alcohol, or drugs helps. Many people fine meditation, yoga, and spiritual practices helpful as well.

Medication: The most common medications used for bipolar disorder are lithium, mood stabilizers, and anticonvulsants. Antipsychotics, benzodiazepines, and beta-blockers are also sometimes used. Medications used to treat bipolar disorder can have mild to serious side effects so it’s important to talk to your doctor about your side effects and goals.

Support: Support through family, friends, and professional are important. People also find support and self-help groups critical in their recovery. Connecting with other people who live with bipolar disorder can help you learn new skills and resources, feel accepted, and avoid isolation. Support groups and communities can be online or in-person. Additional supports through employment, housing, education, and psycho-social rehabilitation help, too.

Treatment & Resources