Bipolar Disorder

How We Treat Bipolar Disorder

Learn more about how we treat bipolar disorder in teens and bipolar disorder in adults. Our residential treatment programs are our most intensive level of care for adults and adolescents with bipolar disorder (sometimes called manic depression). Our day treatment program for bipolar disorder may be an appropriate next step for adults not making progress in outpatient therapy.

Skyland Trail has expertise in treating individuals with any of the five types of bipolar illness:

  • bipolar I
  • bipolar II
  • cyclothymia
  • rapid cycling
  • bipolar disorder otherwise specified

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 episodes of mania or hypomania with elevated mood and high energy.

Most people with bipolar disorder have mostly depressive episodes, although some have mostly manic or hypomanic episodes. A mood episode can last for hours, days, or even months. It’s not always up or down. Most people with bipolar have significant periods in between mood episodes when they experience euthymia, meaning they are neither depressed nor manic.

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

Missed diagnoses of bipolar disorder are not uncommon. Seven out of 10 patients are misdiagnosed at least once. When correctly diagnosed, however, treatments for managing bipolar disorder are often effective.

Melody M

In the fall of 2008, I experienced my first acute manic episode and, quickly thereafter, I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder.

I needed more than temporary stabilization after my psychotic break. I needed the support, education, compassion and guidance that lead to true recovery. I found all of that and more at Skyland Trail.

More Client Stories

Signs and 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. Several symptoms characterize the mood states of bipolar disorder:

Manic Episodes

The appearance of manic episodes is used to help make a bipolar I diagnosis. Manic episodes last at least one week and are typified by a mood shift that’s elevated, expansive or irritable and not the result of a medication or other substance. The mood change also is characterized by three or more of the following symptoms:

  • Difficulty in social or work settings
  • Ability to feel rested after short periods of sleep, such as three hours
  • Rapid speech or thoughts
  • Inflated self-esteem or feelings of grandiosity
  • Distraction by external stimuli
  • Participation in high-risk activities, such as impulsive travel, spending, or sexual activity

Hypomanic Episodes

Hypomanic episodes aren’t as severe as manic episodes and may not have the same level of impulsive behavior or disruption in daily activities. Hypomanic episodes can follow a manic episode for people with bipolar I or characterize a bipolar II, cyclothymic, NOS or bipolar disorder with rapid cycling diagnosis. Hypomanic episodes may be shorter than manic episodes, lasting at least four consecutive days.

Depressive Episodes

Depressive episodes are characterized by low mood or anhedonia – a lack of pleasure in all things. Five or more of the following symptoms can indicate a major depressive episode:

  • Depressed mood
  • Decreased interest in or joy from activities
  • Increased weight loss or decreased appetite
  • Insomnia or sleeping too much
  • Lack of energy
  • Feelings of guilt or worthlessness
  • Inability to think or focus on tasks
  • Suicidal thoughts and behaviors

These symptoms last at least two weeks and make social, work or other situations challenging.

Causes of Bipolar Disorder

Like most mental illnesses, scientists believe bipolar illness is caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors.  For individuals with a genetic predisposition for bipolar illness, experiencing stress can trigger the development of symptoms.

For teens, stress can come from:

  • academic pressures
  • expectations to excel in sports or other activities
  • peer pressure
  • changing bodies and hormones
  • bullying
  • loss of important relationships
  • trauma or abuse

For adults, stress can come from:

  • death of a parent
  • becoming a parent
  • losing a job
  • experiencing divorce
  • trauma or abuse

Effective Treatments for Bipolar Disorder

Medications prescribed by board-certified psychiatrists are essential and effective in controlling the symptoms of bipolar disorder. Clients also engage in specialized individual and group therapy focused on cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). We also 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.

At Skyland Trail, we tailor the treatment plan to each individual so that they receive the best care for their specific mental health needs.