If you currently have bipolar disorder, you are most likely accustomed to mood swings.

Bipolar disorder is defined by Kathleen Smith, PhD, LPC as “a type of mood disorder that affects all areas of life, including your mood, energy level, attention, and behaviors. Symptoms of bipolar disorder are classified into two types of mood episodes, known as depression and mania.”

Not only can these produce a lot of tension in your personal and professional life but in other more dangerous ideations and activities if the cause is left untreated for too long. However, this does not mean that bipolar disorder is a hopeless case and cannot be managed. Aside from medications, adding behavioral therapy to the treatment plan can further improve mood stabilization and enhance your quality of life. 

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How Behavioral Therapy Works 

According to a study about bipolar disorder, the mood swings are strongly influenced by what you are thinking. The researchers discovered that people who have frequent and robust negative thoughts might manifest with descent behaviors. Descent behaviors are highly associated with depressive disorders. One type of action that shows this behavior is the tendency of the person to withdraw from friends and loved ones. On the other hand, people who show many and robust positive thoughts may manifest with ascent behaviors that are closely associated with manic episodes. One example of an ascent behavior is risk-taking. 

Behavioral therapy will try to modify one’s cognition then afterward it will affect the behavior of the person. The therapist offers structured activities and take-home assignments for the person to complete. The results will be discussed with the therapist and will aid in the treatment plan. 

Rashmi Nemade, Ph.D., & Mark Dombeck, Ph.D., elaborated this approach by saying,  “The dominate type of psychotherapy for bipolar disorders is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). CBT is founded on the basic idea that what people think about an event that has happened determines how they will feel about that event.”

Accepting The Clinical Diagnosis 

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One of the initial and most crucial steps is to acknowledge and understand that having a disorder means being responsible for the symptoms that come with it. This is usually a difficult time for people with bipolar disorder to accept.

According to Michael G. Pipich, MS, LMFT, this is difficult  to accept for some because they reject the idea of giving up their manic episodes because, “For many, it’s the only way for them to get anything done before they get depressed again. So they will often deny there is any kind of problem, or sometimes even find blame in others to deflect responsibility for owning their bipolar disorder.”

Therefore, teaching the causes, signs, symptoms, and the general course of the condition is vital to recovery and management of manifestations. 


Cognitive Restructuring 

The entire process focuses mainly on modifying and correcting the problematic thought processes. This can be done by improving your level of awareness, as far as the nature of your thoughts is concerned. Also included in the correction of the views are your moods, identification of the unwanted thoughts, and correcting or changing them altogether. In this context, the therapist will guide you on how to scrutinize these thoughts by identifying the distorted ones and differentiating them from the acceptable ones. As the therapy progress, this helps improves balanced thinking. 


Frequent Problem Solving 

The approach is typically taught during the first few sessions. This requires you to identify the problem, come up with possible solutions, choose among what you formulated, try it out for yourself, and decide if the choice was worth it. After this concept is introduced during the initial sessions, you will be asked to implement it. The therapist will present you with some open problems that you must solve. 


Mood Monitoring 

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For this method, your therapist will require you to record your current mood and what the activities attributed in a journal. You may also be asked to write down what caused the feelings and what you did about it. For the next sessions, your therapist will examine the entries and check for any patterns that may have taken place. Moreover, you may be asked to indicate your general mood for the mood using a 0 to 10 scale. 

Aside from these strategies, your doctor will also be prescribing you medications to alleviate the symptoms of moods disorders such as heightened sensorium, depressive moods, inability to sleep, and problems with eating habits. Altogether, this treatment package can generate productive and successful outcomes in treating bipolar disorders.