Bipolar disorder causes extreme mood swings. (This is why it is sometimes referred to as manic depression.) On the one hand, you or the person you love may experience emotional highs (mania or hypomania, feelings of extreme euphoria and bouts of extreme energy). On the other extreme, you may experience deep emotional lows (significant depression). During periods of depression, you may feel sad, hopeless, apathetic and disinterested in most activities. For some people with bipolar disorder, mood shifts occur only a few times a year. Other people vacillate between highs and lows as frequently as several times a week.
Managing bipolar disorder
Often, you can keep moods from the extremes of euphoria and depression by following a treatment plan that you develop with your psychologist. For most people, bipolar disorder can be controlled using a combination of psychotherapy and medications. In some cases, psychotherapy may be sufficient to help you manage your bipolar disorder.
Psychotherapy is a vital part of bipolar disorder treatment. One-on-one therapy with Dr. Franco can be complemented by family therapy. Individual therapy can be complemented by joining a support group. Therapy may include Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), psychoeducation, and other therapeutic modalities.
In Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) you learn to identify unhealthy, negative thoughts and behaviors, and false core beliefs. You can learn to replace them with healthier, more positive thoughts and behaviors. False core beliefs can be replaced by realistic assessments. You can identify what triggers your bipolar episodes, and learn effective strategies for neutralizing those triggers. By learning techniques for managing stress and coping with challenging situations, you can avoid triggering mood swings.
Part of therapy is psychoeducation. Learning about bipolar disorder helps you understand your internal mechanism, helps you focus on getting the best support, and helps you recognize the warning signs of mood swings.
Lifestyle modifications can help you control your bipolar disorder. For many people, keeping to a consistent routine enables more control over mood management.