Treating Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder is one of the most widely misunderstood and downplayed mental health conditions. While people will use the disorder as a casual insult or self-descriptor to seem quirky, most don’t appreciate the difficulty of living with bipolar disorder. At Alter Behavioral Health, our mission is to help our Orange County neighbors find the mental health care they need. To this end, we have a thorough understanding of bipolar disorder and apply the latest evidence-based treatment techniques.

What is Bipolar Disorder?

Bipolar disorder entails wild, jarring shifts between two emotional extremes. Some would describe these extremes as highs and lows, but this isn’t accurate. Both mania and depression, the two states that those with bipolar swing between, are horribly unpleasant and even dangerous.

Depressive Episodes

Depression goes much farther than simply being sad. Rather, depressive episodes entail a loss of motivation and struggle to find joy in anything. In a person with bipolar disorder, these depressive episodes may last days or longer. During this period, basic self-care, going to work, and other tasks will prove difficult to complete. As bad as the depressive episodes are, mania can be just as bad or even worse.


Manic periods of intense emotion and excitement entail out of control behavior. While suffering from a period of mania, the person is likely to make horrible decisions or engage in risky behavior. In some cases, unchecked mania may result in potentially fatal risk-taking behaviors. Additionally, the memory loss that bipolar disorder often entails may be at its worst during mania. In the long-term, bipolar disorder can entail considerable cognitive decline.

Treating Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder requires pharmacological treatment, first and foremost. However, modern studies show that it’s a mistake to treat bipolar disorder as a purely medical problem. When patients receive psychotherapy in combination with medication, they enjoy improved outcomes and manage the condition better.

Medications for Bipolar Disorder

The foundation of treating bipolar disorder is mood-stabilizing medication. Devising a suitable medication regimen can be complicated at times, due to the variance between depression and mania. Lithium and Valproic acid are some common medications, but using antidepressants can have a dangerous effect during manic episodes. After consulting with Alter Behavioral Health, you’ll be able to move forward with a medication regimen suited to your needs.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive behavioral therapy focuses on the role of thought patterns and behavior in enabling mental illness. While CBT cannot treat bipolar disorder on its own, it can help the patient regulate their emotions and undermine the thought patterns that lead to manic and depressive episodes. Recent studies have shown that psychotherapy combined with medication lead to the best outcomes for those with bipolar disorder.

Family Psychoeducation

One of the most important steps to take in improving the lives of those with bipolar disorder is education. By helping the patient and those close to them understand the condition, it’s possible to demystify and destigmatize it. This will lead to more supportive, productive relationships for all those involved.

Bipolar Disorder Treatment in Orange County

Alter Behavioral Health is dedicated to helping adults throughout Orange County find the mental health primary care they need. We follow the most up-to-date treatment methods by combining medication, specially crafted psychotherapy regimens, and support of the whole person. This means understanding how mental illness interplays with someone’s personal life and taking steps to improve both. If you or a loved one need diagnosis or treatment for bipolar disorder, get in touch with us.

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