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The people at Skyland Trail helped me believe in myself again. They taught me that having a mental illness didn't mean that I had to scale down my dreams for myself.

– Melody M.

Bipolar Disorder


What is Bipolar Illness?

Approximately 1 percent of the world's population has bipolar disorder, also known as manic depression. Approximately 23 percent of Skyland Trail clients in our residential and day treatment programs have a primary diagnoses of bipolar disorder type I. 

A person with bipolar disorder has experienced at least one episode of mania as well as episodes of depression. During a manic episode, individuals may have increased energy, grandiose feelings or beliefs, rapid thoughts, sleeplessness, and impulsive behavior.  Depressive episodes are characterized by feelings of sadness and hopelessness, lack of energy, too much or too little sleep, and changes in appetite, among other symptoms. Manic and depressive episodes may be separated by periods of time where the person's mood is not affected.

Impact & Risks

Untreated, bipolar disorder can be extremely harmful. During a manic episode, individuals may act impulsively and engage in risky behaviors with long-term consequences. Individuals living with bipolar disorder are more likely to develop problems with drugs and alcohol. Over time, untreated mania can result in loss of cognitive functioning. 

Individuals struggling with untreated bipolar illness often are unable to develop or maintain the skills and supportive relationships needed to be successful in society. Further, untreated bipolar disorder is associated with increased risk for cardiovascular disease and, some studies indicate, immune system complications.

What are the treatments for bipolar disorder?

Medications such as lithium, carbamezapine, valproic acid and sometimes atypical antipsychotic medications are essential and effective in controlling the illness. As our clients' active symptoms are resolved through medication and psychotherapy, they can focus on developing the skills they need to achieve their goals, whether returning to school or work or enjoying meaningful relationships.

Young adults and college-age teens experiencing their first episode of bipolar illness with psychosis may benefit from our specialized Young Adult program. Older adults with chronic symptoms of psychosis may benefit from our Social Integration program that focuses on experience-based learning.

Adults with no psychotic symptoms who are struggling with mood episodes often benefit from our Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) or Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) programs.

In addition to applying specialized evidence-based therapies, we provide guidance and support to help clients address their symptoms through proven strategies like routinely getting eight hours of sleep each night, engaging in cardiovascular exercise, improving nutrition, and participating in positive leisure and social activities.

Patrick's Journey

Patrick found hope and recovery at Skyland Trail after struggling with bipolar disorder for many years.
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Arts in the Garden

Skyland Trail celebrates Mental Health Month in May with our annual Arts in the Garden community event.
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