Besides medication to stabilize the dramatic mood swings of bipolar disorder, therapy is believed to help sufferers manage symptoms and life issues, while helping them to control negative thoughts and resolve interpersonal challenges. There are a number of types of therapy (each with its own particular strength) that may be beneficial for people diagnosed with bipolar disorder. These therapies may be conducted privately, in group settings or include the patient and their family members. Therapy allows sufferers to discuss feelings, thoughts and behaviors while promoting insight into the illness and fostering coping skills. Research suggests those who receive therapy may recover more quickly than patients on medication alone. Experts also say maintaining a mood diary and tracking moods on a daily basis may be integral to the therapy process. A diary is a valuable tool for both patient and therapist in identifying symptoms and situations that typically precede a manic or depressive episode. One of the most common types of therapy for bipolar disorder is Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy, which helps sufferers identify and transform negative or unhealthy thought patterns and behaviors into healthier, more positive ways of coping with, and responding to, stressful situations. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy may also help patients recognize the onset of mania and modify their behavior to minimize an episode, as well as to develop more positive thought patterns and behaviors to help diminish negativity and thwart depression. Another form of therapy, called Interpersonal and Social Rhythm Therapy, helps address and improve relationship issues and daily routines to reduce stress and mood cycling. Key to this approach is the belief that sufferers have highly sensitive biological clocks that may be easily disrupted by subtle differences in routines like sleeping or eating. Another form of therapy, Family-Focused Therapy, helps educate family members about the illness, while helping identify conflicts, and reduce stress and strain within the family dynamic. This type of therapy also helps family members gain awareness, and control, of their emotional response to the illness, and create a healthier, more supportive home environment. Significantly, studies suggest that ongoing therapy, for at least nine months, may be more effective in helping alleviate bipolar depression than medication alone, especially since it's believed that depression medications may be of limited use in treating recurring episodes. If you or someone you know is affected by bipolar disorder, please see a mental health professional.
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Last Updated:December 20, 2012