Residential Treatment and Day Treatment for Adults with Bipolar Disorder

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

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.

Effective Medication Therapy for Bipolar Disorder

Medications such as lithium, valproic acid and sometimes atypical antipsychotic medications are essential and effective in controlling the illness. While there is no one recipe for success, our psychiatrists are all skilled at developing an effective evidence-based medication strategy for each client, one that improves mood, concentration and energy and prevents manic episodes while minimizing side effects.

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.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) for Bipolar Disorder

Clients with no symptoms of psychosis likely will participate in our Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) specialized recovery community.

Cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT, is an evidence-based therapy proven to be effective in treating bipolar illness. CBT therapy focuses on understanding how your thoughts, behaviors, and mood are connected. Patients who engage in CBT learn strategies to improve their mood – how they feel – by changing their thought and behavior patterns.

CBT therapy can help people recognize thoughts and behaviors that may signal that an episode of depression or mania is developing. CBT empowers clients to use learned skills and strategies to prevent or mitigate the mood episode. Through CBT, people also often are able to identify strengths and personal assets they can use to navigate mood episodes and prevent relapse or hospitalizations.

CBT for Bipolar

Skyland Trail psychiatrist Dr. Mary Burns describes cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and how it is used to treat bipolar disorder

Bipolar Illness and Alcohol or Substance Use

Several studies show that more than 40 percent of individuals with a bipolar diagnosis also experience problems with alcohol and substance use. 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.

Bipolar Disorder and Psychosis

Some people who have bipolar disorder also experience psychosis. In fact, a majority of patients with bipolar disorder in an overt manic episode have some sort of psychosis. One of the diagnostic criteria for a manic episode is grandiosity. If grandiose thoughts evolve into a belief that you have special powers or that you are a famous movie star, those thoughts become delusions and a psychotic symptom in the context of a mood disorder. Young adults may experience a first episode of psychosis (FEP) as part of a manic episode. Medication is critically important for psychosis because everything gets worse every next day someone lives with untreated psychosis.

Young adult clients ages 18 to 24 experiencing bipolar illness with psychosis likely will enter the cognition and first episode (CAFE) recovery community. Clients ages 25 and older with bipolar and psychosis likely will enter the social integration (SI) recovery community. Once the psychosis is resolved through medications and therapy, clients may transition to the cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) recovery community if clinically appropriate.

All clients experiencing psychosis participate in computer-based cognitive training to prevent cognitive decline and improve executive functioning.

Bipolar Disorder and Trauma

Trauma – particularly when experienced in early childhood – is very predictive of developing all mental illnesses, including bipolar disorder. Skyland Trail practices trauma-informed mental health care. Trauma-informed care allows trauma survivors to first address the symptoms of a diagnosed mental illness like bipolar disorder before processing their trauma.

Throughout treatment, care providers acknowledge that the client has experienced trauma and validate the emotions arising from that experience. But the treatment team does not ask the client to describe or re-live the trauma in any way. Treatment strategies are focused on helping the client develop skills to handle difficult emotions and stressful situations in healthy ways.

Completing trauma-informed psychiatric treatment for a mood disorder like bipolar illness allows clients to develop insight, adopt skills, and build a strong foundation for healthy living. Clients who are trauma survivors  are then better prepared and equipped to pursue formal trauma treatment with a specialized mental health provider.

Help for Young Adults Experiencing 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.

Clients reside at the Rollins Campus or South Campus, have a private room and private bathroom, and receive 24/7 nursing support..

Comparing Borderline Personality Disorder and Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder and borderline personality disorder are two separate and distinct illnesses and require different treatments.

Treatment of Chronic Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder

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 ages 25 and older who participate in our bipolar residential treatment program live at the Skyland Trail South Campus or Rollins Campus and reside in a private bedroom with a private bathroom.

A Holistic Approach to Wellness

In addition to medication and therapy, through our horticulture, arts and music programs, individuals can build confidence, identify and externalize potentially difficult feelings, and address symptoms through creative expression and social interaction. We provide education about the increased risk for medical diseases and help prevent those diseases through our primary care and wellness program.

Our clients have the opportunity to explore potential spiritual resources through interfaith spiritual counseling. And, because an important part of therapy for individuals with depression is shifting their focus outside of themselves, our clients participate in organized humanitarian efforts and in our vocational services program to set and work toward goals for school, work or volunteer activities.


Contact our admissions team to learn how Skyland Trail can help you or your loved one.