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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., Skyland Trail alumni

Residential and Day Treatment for Bipolar Disorder

Skyland Trail Is A Nationally Recognized Bipolar Treatment Center

Skyland Trail offers residential treatment for bipolar illness as well as a day treatment program for bipolar illness in Atlanta.

Medications such as lithium, 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.

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. 

We recognize that your diagnosis is important; it helps us match you with the best evidence-based psychiatric treatment and the best specialized expertise to improve your mental health. But we also recognize that you are so much more than a diagnosis. Our treatment team will help you discover a path to mental wellness - one that is uniquely your own.

What is Bipolar Disorder?

what is bipolar disorder

A person with a bipolar disorder has experienced at least one episode of mania as well as episodes of depression. It's common to experience depressive episodes with low mood and low energy and manic or hypomanic episodes with elevated mood and high energy. A mood episode can last for hours, days, or even months.

Most people with bipolar disorder have mostly depressive episodes, although some have mostly manic or hypomanic episodes. It’s not always up or down; most people with bipolar have significant periods in between mood episodes where they experience euthymia, meaning they are neither depressed nor manic.

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. While bipolar illness is a mood disorder, some patients experience psychosis as a symptom.


Client Testimonial: Melody's Story

Skyland Trail graduate Melody M. describes how treatment at Skyland Trail helped her understand her bipolar illness and take control of her life.

Watch Melody's Story

Types of Bipolar Disorders

types of bipolar disorders 
There are 5 types of bipolar disorders:

  1. Bipolar 1: Bipolar I is considered more severe than bipolar II because people with bipolar I experience at least one episode of mania, while individuals with bipolar II experience hypomania, a milder episode of elevated mood and energy. 
  2. Bipolar 2: Though considered less severe, untreated, bipolar II may still interfere with a person’s ability to work, go to school, or participate fully in the community. People with bipolar I are more likely to experience symptoms of psychosis than people with bipolar II, and psychosis is more likely to occur with mania than with depression.
  3. Cyclothymic Disorder: While symptoms may be classified as mild, the highs and lows of cyclothymia can still interfere with relationships, school or work responsibilities, and day-to-day living, so it’s still important to seek effective treatment.
  4. Bipolar Disorder With Rapid Cycling: In rapid cycling bipolar, individuals experience four or more episodes of mania, hypomania, or depression in a year and may or may not return to a euthymic mood in between.
  5. Bipolar Disorder Otherwise Specified

Appearance of Signs & Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder

Symptoms of bipolar disorder often appear during a person’s early 20s, though children and teens can also show signs of bipolar symptoms.

bipolar disorder signs and symptons

Missed diagnoses of bipolar disorder are not uncommon. Seven out of 10 patients are misdiagnosed at least once. When they’re correctly diagnosed, though, treatments for managing bipolar disorder are often successful. The persistent myth that people with bipolar disorder are inherently less capable of managing careers or family responsibilities is simply not true. With effective treatment, people with bipolar illness can be productive, happy people. In some cases, people with bipolar disorder may be uniquely qualified for certain situations because of their lived experience and perspective.

Factors That Can Contribute to Bipolar Disorder

While bipolar disorder has not been determined to be caused by a single factor, there are several factors that it is more likely to develop under.

  • Biological Traits: Physical changes in the brain appear in some people with bipolar disorder. The cause of this remains largely unclear.
  • Genetic Factors: Bipolar disorder is more likely to appear in families that have a history of being diagnosed with bipolar disorder. It is more common in people who have a first-degree relative with the condition.
  • Hormonal Problems: An imbalance of hormones might trigger or contribute to the development of bipolar disorder.
  • Environmental Factors: Experiencing large amounts of stress or going through a traumatic event can trigger this condition.

Treatment of Chronic or Recurring Bipolar Symptoms: Depression, Mania, or Psychosis

Our bipolar residential treatment program is appropriate for older adults with chronic bipolar symptoms or midlife or older adults who experience a serious episode of bipolar depression or mania after many years without severe symptoms. The Skyland Trail mental health day treatment program may be appropriate for adults with treatment-resistant depression related to bipolar illness who are not making progress in traditional outpatient therapy.

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. Older adults with chronic symptoms of psychosis may benefit from our Social Integration program that focuses on experience-based learning.

Adults ages 26 and older who participate in our bipolar residential treatment program live at the Skyland Trail South Campus, featuring 24 private bedrooms and bathrooms.

Dual Diagnosis for Bipolar Illness and Substance Use

Several studies show that more than 40 percent of individuals with a bipolar diagnosis also experience problems with alcohol and substance abuse. We call this having a Dual Diagnosis or co-occurring disorders. Co-occurring diagnoses can make recovery more challenging. But research indicates that people who address multiple psychiatric diagnoses simultaneously experience better long-term outcomes than those who try to address each diagnosis separately.

While Skyland Trail clients with bipolar disorder participate in a recovery community focused on their mood disorder or psychosis, clients who misuse alcohol or other substances also participate in the Dual Diagnosis recovery community. Clients who may have been using alcohol or substances as a coping mechanism to deal with the symptoms of their bipolar depression or mania learn new strategies and skills to regulate their mood, cope with stress, and stay healthy without relying on substances.

Dual Diagnosis Program

CBT for Bipolar Illness

Skyland Trail psychiatrist Dr. Mary Burns describes Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and how it is used to treat depression, bipolar illness and anxiety.

Watch CBT for Bipolar

Treatment for Young Adults with Bipolar Disorder

Onset of bipolar disorder frequently occurs in late adolescence and early adulthood. Early treatment of bipolar illness can improve long-term outcomes. Nationally, there are few bipolar treatment facilities for young adults. 

Skyland Trail offers an age-appropriate residential treatment facility - the Rollins Campus - for young adults ages 18 to 25. We also offer individualized mental health treatment programs focused on bipolar psychosis treatment, bipolar depression treatment, and or bipolar mania treatment. 

Young adults and college-age teens experiencing their first episode of bipolar illness with psychosis may benefit from our specialized Cognition and First Episode program. Young 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.

Contact Skyland Trail Today

Take the next step toward managing your bipolar illness and living the life you choose. Call today to speak to a member of our admissions team.

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