What Treatments Are Available for Bipolar Disorder?

When seeking treatment for bipolar disorder, a proper mental health diagnosis is the first step. Typically, a diagnosis will include a physical exam as well as a psychiatric assessment. You may be asked to start a journal to track your moods, symptoms, and potential triggers. This can help significantly in the diagnosis process.

After you have completed these initial steps, your doctor will go over all of your data. They will check and compare your symptoms against specific diagnostic standards to see if you meet the criteria for one of the three types of bipolar disorder.

Types of Bipolar Disorder

The three types of bipolar disorder are:

Bipolar I

The NIMH defines bipolar I by noting manic episodes that last a minimum of seven days, the majority of the day, almost every day. These manic symptoms may become so severe that you need immediate hospital care. Manic episodes are a high-energy state of mind where excitement and euphoria are sustained over a period of time. These episodes are accompanied by depressive episodes that generally last a minimum of two weeks.

Bipolar II

This form of bipolar disorder is defined by a recurring pattern of depressive episodes and hypomanic episodes. A hypomanic episode is similar to the manic episodes that occur with bipolar I, though they are less intense and don’t require medical attention. Additionally, the depressive episodes involved in bipolar II are not as severe.

Cyclothymic Disorder (Cyclothymia)

Similar to bipolar II, cyclothymic disorder involves recurrent hypomanic and depressive symptoms. It differs from bipolar II in that these symptoms are not severe enough, nor do they last long enough to be classified as true hypomanic or depressive episodes. This disorder is rare though it still causes emotional ups and downs that are difficult to manage despite the lesser severity.


When a person experiences symptoms of bipolar disorder that do not line up with one of these three types, this is then referred to as “other specified/unspecified (bipolar NOS).”

What Does Bipolar Treatment Look Like?

As with most mental health conditions, there are multiple options available for bipolar disorder treatment in Irvine, Mission Viejo and other Locations in California. A combination of therapy and medication has been found to be a very effective method, though some people may find that one or the other is sufficient, depending on the severity of their symptoms.

There are quality facilities available that specialize in a combined treatment plan. The foundation for reliable bipolar management is found in the medications available for the condition.

What Are the Main Medications for Bipolar Disorder?

Treating bipolar disorder with medication is generally the first step. Mood stabilizers are often the go-to for this condition. These help in controlling manic and hypomanic symptoms. Depressive episodes can also be a concern and are usually treated with antidepressants along with the mood-stabilizers. This is a common combination for treating bipolar disorder.

In some cases, antipsychotic and anti-anxiety medications have also been helpful. A 2017 study reviewed several medications for bipolar disorder, including:

  • Mood Stabilizers: Lithium, divalproex/valproate, carbamazepine/oxcarbazepine, lamotrigine, topiramate, gabapentin
  • Antidepressants: Tricyclics, selective serotonin reuptake-inhibitors, serotonins and norepinephrine reuptake-inhibitors, bupropion, mirtazapine, etc.
  • Antipsychotic Medications: First-generation and second-generation medicines

Your doctor can help you find the right medication for your bipolar disorder.

What Therapy Options Are Used for Bipolar Disorder?

Treatment for bipolar disorder doesn’t stop with medication. Therapy is a great addition to any management plan. The most common form of therapy for this condition is cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). This form of therapy is a combination of two therapeutic approaches, known as cognitive therapy and behavioral therapy. In CBT, you will focus on identifying problems and finding appropriate ways to solve them. This helps train your brain to cope with and manage the symptoms of your bipolar disorder.

Another very beneficial form of therapy for bipolar disorder is family psychoeducation. This is an educational form of therapy for individuals with bipolar disorder and their family members. The world of psychoeducation is ever-growing, as with any educational field. All involved parties learn all about the complexities of bipolar disorder with the goal of demystifying and destigmatizing the condition. Utilizing such therapy can result in supportive, stronger, and healthier familial relationships.

When Should I Seek Treatment?

Aiming to better yourself is always a healthy goal for your happiness and overall mental health. Anytime is the right time to seek treatment for your bipolar disorder. The good news is that bipolar disorder is easily treatable with help from the right facility.

You don’t have to struggle through the ups and downs that come with bipolar. Instead, you can have a future of confidence, joy, and less stress when you have a dependable treatment plan for your condition. You deserve to be happy so put yourself first and act today.

Starting treatment for bipolar disorder may sound scary but it doesn’t have to be. Surrounding yourself with a team of experts that truly care is the first step to proper management. At Alter Behavioral Health, we are that team. We will be with you through every step to lessen the load and get you on the right track to emotional freedom. You don’t have to keep battling the ups and downs alone. Let us help you fight this battle so that you can win the war. With the right treatment plan, you can live your life worry-free and get back to doing the things you love without your bipolar disorder getting in the way. Call us today at (866) 691-4386.