How Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Treats Bipolar Disorder

How Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Treats Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder is a complex mental health condition characterized by extreme highs and lows. The highs are known as mania, and the lows are depression. A person living with bipolar disorder experiences extreme shifts in mood that can interfere with everyday life.

Signs of Bipolar Disorder

It’s estimated that nearly five percent of adults in the U.S. experience bipolar disorder. The symptoms can make it challenging to function if they’re not properly managed.

Symptoms of Mania

Some common symptoms of mania include, but are not limited to:

  • Increased energy
  • Unusual talkativeness
  • Racing thoughts
  • Reduced need for sleep
  • Hypersexuality
  • Irritability
  • Impulsiveness
  • Grandiose delusions
  • Psychosis

Individuals who struggle with bipolar 2 disorder experience a unique form of mania known as hypomania. This is considered a milder form of mania but should still be taken seriously.

Symptoms of Depressive Episodes

Depressive episodes are known to heavily influence the severity of bipolar disorder. Symptoms of depression often include:

  • Loss of interest or feeling no pleasure
  • Feeling slowed down or restless
  • Insomnia or sleeping too much
  • Fatigue or loss of energy
  • Feeling worthless or guilty
  • Weight loss or weight gain
  • Decrease or increase in appetite
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Isolating yourself from others
  • Thinking about death or suicide

Types of Bipolar Disorder

There are four types of bipolar disorder. These include:

#1 Bipolar 1

A person with bipolar 1 experiences manic episodes lasting at least seven days, which are severe enough to require hospitalization. They may also deal with depressive episodes; however, this isn’t required to make a diagnosis.

#2 Bipolar 2

With bipolar 2, an individual still has highs and lows, but the highs are known as hypomania. Those in this category are more likely to experience depressive episodes.

#3 Cyclothymic Disorder

This disorder involves ups and downs, but these mood changes are less extreme than the ones seen in bipolar 1 or 2.

#4 Bipolar Disorder Not Otherwise Specified

People with this condition experience symptoms that don’t quite meet the criteria for a bipolar diagnosis.

If you live with bipolar disorder, you know how debilitating this condition can be. Bipolar disorder can rob you of living a fulfilling life. For many, the disorder affects every aspect of their day-to-day routine. Symptoms can interfere with being able to attend work and school or maintaining healthy relationships.

However, there are treatment options available that can help you manage your symptoms. One of these options is called cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT).

What Is CBT?

Cognitive-behavioral therapy is a type of psychotherapy that is effective at treating a range of mental health conditions. The main concept of CBT is to explore the connection between thoughts, emotions, and behavior. In CBT, you’ll work with a therapist to identify and change negative thought patterns that influence emotions and behavior.

Techniques Used in CBT

CBT can be a beneficial tool for identifying, challenging, and replacing inaccurate thoughts.

There are several techniques used in cognitive behavioral therapy to help you work through your problems. Knowing what to expect during treatment can be helpful. Here are a few examples of strategies used in CBT:

Identifying Negative or Inaccurate Thinking

This process involves learning what situations, thoughts, and feelings cause certain patterns of behavior.

Reshaping Negative or Inaccurate Thinking

During your sessions, your therapist will help you determine whether your perception of a situation is based on fact or a result of negative or inaccurate thinking. This is difficult and often takes time because you may have held certain beliefs about life and yourself for a while.


You will learn problem-solving skills while attending CBT. These skills can help you learn how to identify and solve problems you may face.

Problem-solving in CBT is typically a five-step process that include:

  1. Identifying the problem
  2. Creating a list of potential solutions
  3. Determining the strengths and weaknesses of each solution
  4. Choosing a solution to apply
  5. Implementing the solution

Practicing New Skills

CBT will teach you many skills, and you’ll learn how to apply these skills to your daily life. For example, when you’re stressed, you’ll be able to utilize the coping skills you learned in therapy.


This involves tracking behaviors and symptoms and sharing them during therapy, which helps your therapist provide the best treatment possible.

Treating Bipolar Disorder With CBT

Psychotherapy is a critical component in treating bipolar disorder. If you have this condition, keeping your mood stable is essential. A study published by the National Library of Medicine showed that CBT is effective for preventing and delaying symptoms associated with bipolar episodes.

CBT can treat bipolar disorder by addressing symptoms associated with depressive episodes as well as thoughts and beliefs about manic episodes.

There are four vital skills you’ll learn during CBT to help manage your condition:

  1. Accept your diagnosis. People living with bipolar disorder often struggle to accept that they have this life-long condition. Learning about how symptoms manifest and potential triggers will help you as you seek therapy. Over time, you’ll realize that bipolar disorder is only one part of you and that it does not define you.
  2. Monitor your mood. Many individuals diagnosed with bipolar disorder find it helpful to monitor their moods and share what they’ve tracked with their therapist. This helps to become aware of triggers or shifts in mood.
  3. Stabilize your routine. When you have bipolar disorder, it’s important to have a consistent routine to help stabilize your mood. This may look like working out regularly or maintaining a sleep schedule.
  4. Cognitive restructuring. This involves correcting faulty thought patterns. It’s done by identifying problematic thoughts, learning how they affect your mood, and how you can change them.

Live Well With Bipolar Disorder

With the right treatment, you can learn to live well with this condition. CBT is highly effective for treating bipolar disorder. If you’re struggling, help is available.

Bipolar disorder is a debilitating condition that can progress if left untreated. Receiving a bipolar diagnosis isn’t easy, and you may find it difficult to accept. Therapy can help you learn to accept your diagnosis as well as how to manage your symptoms. Yes, this disorder may affect every aspect of your life, but you don’t have to allow it to define you. Alter Wellness Care is an outpatient mental health program that treats conditions like bipolar disorder. Our programs are individualized to ensure you receive the care you need. Instead of just treating your condition, we offer both intensive outpatient and partial hospitalization programs that are created to treat both your condition and you as a person. We care about every client who enters our facility, and we’d love to help you. Call us today to learn more about our programs at (866) 311-3510.

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