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How to Treat Bipolar Disorder

Posted on March 18, 2022

If you suspect you might have bipolar disorder, understanding how it affects you will be a helpful step towards making decisions on how to respond to it. While it can’t be cured, treatment is available. With help, people diagnosed with bipolar disorder can stabilize their lives and reduce their symptoms. Today, let’s look at how to treat bipolar disorder as part of a plan for substance use treatment.

Bipolar disorder, previously named manic depression, occurs when a person alternates between manic (overexcited) and depressive episodes. For some people, these episodes can last for months. As there are several types of bipolar disorder, a proper diagnosis of which type is essential. Treatment typically involves individual therapy with a mental health professional as well as lifestyle changes. Medication may be prescribed, too.

For people with bipolar disorder and addiction, dual diagnosis treatment is available.

Diagnosing Bipolar Disorder Types

Bipolar disorder is a blanket term used or mental health conditions with multiple levels. It can be caused, in part, by family genetics. Diagnosis of bipolar disorder by a mental health professional allows them to identify which type exists in a patient. Information gathered during a patient’s psychological exam will provide insight about the symptoms. The patient will be asked about when they started, how long they typically last, and how severe they have been. Patients will also be asked about their experience with past treatments, if applicable.

Often, feeling irritable, remaining sad over long periods of time, and crying frequently are examples of the symptoms you might feel during depressive episodes. Patients may have also experienced changes to their sleep patterns and feel low energy. Other symptoms during depressive episodes include poor concentration, fatigue, and a loss of interest in their favorite activities.

The symptoms of manic episodes include feeling unusually excited or overly confident. You may become very talkative for long periods of time. Risky behaviors, including increased unsafe sexual activity and reckless driving, can also be signs of manic episodes.

Bipolar disorder types include:

  • Bipolar 1
    Type 1used to be called “manic depression.” With type 1, a person has severe manic episodes and long periods of depression.
  • Bipolar II
    Type 2 includes patients who haven’t experienced intense manic episodes. However, they may have periods of high energy and impulsive behavior. These periods of high energy are usually followed by long periods of low moods.
  • Cyclothymia
    A third type of bipolar disorder is known as Cyclothymia. People with Cyclothymia experience a milder form of bipolar symptoms, both leaning towards mania and depression. For adults, these symptoms can last at least two years. In many cases, l Cyclothymia gets misdiagnosed as depression.


Can Bipolar Disorder Be Cured?

While there is no known cure for bipolar disorder at this time, there are several treatment options that can help most people with bipolar disorder control the illness and live normal, productive lives.

Learn how to treat bipolar disorder with safe, effective treatment options from Origins Behavioral Healthcare:

Individual Therapy

Interventions for a patient with bipolar disorder vary, however, a fundamental part is individual therapy. In these sessions, a person with bipolar disorder can learn how to manage their symptoms in healthy ways. Between sessions, they can put strategies into practice to see what works for them.

Group Therapy

A second form of treatment is available in a group setting. This type of therapy allows a person with bipolar disorder to share their experiences with others. They can connect with peers who have lived with the same symptoms. Spending time in supportive group settings is a valuable way to find encouragement and build community.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

CBT is another treatment option for a person diagnosed with bipolar disorder. These sessions focus on how a patient thinks, behaves, and emotionally responds to their symptoms. CBT can introduce patients to monitoring their moods in between sessions. Also, patients can learn how to treat bipolar disorder and stabilize their daily routine as a step towards stabilizing their moods. The end result can be more balanced thinking and behavior.

Family Therapy

Bipolar disorder affects everyone in a patient’s life, especially loved ones. Family therapy can be a safe and productive way to help everyone share the impact it’s had on them. Through guided sessions, the family can learn the steps needed to repair relationships and improve communication skills, and better understand how bipolar disorder affects their loved one.


Medication is another form of treatment for a person with bipolar disorder. These prescribed drugs can be anticonvulsants, antipsychotics, and SSRIs. Carbamazepine is an example of an anticonvulsant used to treat seizures and symptoms of bipolar disorder. Olanzapine is one type of antipsychotic that can be prescribed to treat a patient’s manic episodes. Fluoxetine is an SSRI that can be prescribed to lessen symptoms of depression. These types of medications are commonly known by brand names. For example, most people are familiar with fluoxetine as the brand name Prozac.

Bipolar Disorder Treatment and Alcohol Treatment

Alcohol misuse is common in people with undiagnosed or unmanaged bipolar disorders. Coping with the severe symptoms can lead to regular binge drinking. Drinking alone may be part of depressive episodes. Drinking excessively in public places with friends may be part of manic episodes.

Untreated bipolar disorder can interfere with your attempts to get sober. Past treatment efforts may have felt unsuccessful if your focus was only on stopping your drinking. Even if you changed your lifestyle to stay away from alcohol, the symptoms of bipolar disorder may have made it feel impossible to endure life without a drink.

The path to sober living now starts with dual diagnosis treatment. In a facility offering it, you’re able to work on recovery from alcohol addiction while learning how to manage your bipolar symptoms. These missions for your health and well-being happen simultaneously, whether at an inpatient or outpatient program.

Bipolar Disorder Treatment and Substance Use Treatment

Substance use is seen frequently in patients with bipolar disorder. They may be illegal drugs, from heroin to cocaine to meth. They may be various prescription drugs. You may have used mood stabilizers when you’re manic or antidepressants when your low mood persists.

The misuse of one or more of these types of drugs over a long period of time can lead to a need for treatment. You may have tried to quit using them and found yourself unable to function without them.

Treating a bipolar disorder and a substance use disorder can be an integrated effort in the proper setting. Dual diagnosis treatment is designed to help a patient understand how their mental health and substance use affect each other. With knowledge of themselves and strategies introduced to them, a person with bipolar disorder and a history of substance use can begin the journey to long-term sobriety.

Bipolar Treatment at an Addiction Facility

Treatment of bipolar disorder at an addiction facility begins with a medical detox. Under the care of a medical team 24/7, a patient experiences a safe withdrawal from the substances in their system. A psychological exam allows a treatment team to personalize the program to fit the patient’s needs.

For patients diagnosed with bipolar disorder and addiction, the personalized treatment plan will be comprehensive and draw from a variety of therapy types. Evidence-based therapies are fundamental at Origins facilities. Ongoing psychiatric care is essential. In addition, medical care, including medication, is provided throughout a program.

An integrated treatment program reaches beyond physical, emotional, and psychological needs of a patient. A person in treatment for bipolar disorder and addiction also needs skills to live independently, return to work or school, and repair relationships. Beyond the program itself, a patient will need additional help to sustain their sobriety long-term. Continuing care planning is a standard feature for a program set up for a patient with co-occurring mental health and substance use disorders.


Origins Behavioral Healthcare is a well-known care provider offering a range of treatment programs targeting the recovery from substance use, mental health issues, and beyond. Our primary mission is to provide a clear path to a life of healing and restoration.

We offer renowned clinical care for addiction and have the compassion and professional expertise to guide you toward lasting sobriety.

For information on our programs, call us today: 561-841-1296.