Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for Bipolar Disorder

bipolar disorder therapy

Cognitive behaviour therapy is a very useful psycho-social intervention technique that is employed alongside pharmacological treatment.

The combination of psychological treatment in the form of cognitive behavioural therapy, pharmacopeia, and outpatient support has shown to work better than medication alone.

Objectives of cognitive behaviour therapy for bipolar disorders

The most important goal of CBT is to try and ensure compliance with the various treatment modalities that a patient has to undergo. This is achieved by understanding the obstacles an individual may face and trying to remove such obstacles. Early detection of symptoms pointing to a relapse is another goal. Intervention to exclude negative life experiences, manage stress, and ensure a healthy lifestyle is an exercise carried out regularly. Treatment of bipolar depression and co-morbid conditions round off the list of objectives of CBT.

A planned approach to cognitive behaviour therapy is a necessary adjunct to medicines because –

  1. It informs subjects and their families about the condition, treatment options, and obstacles in implementing the treatment.
  2. It encourages the subject to play an active role in the treatment process.
  3. It teaches the subject and family about the course of treatment, methods to track the progress of symptoms and frequency of occurrence.
  4. It educates and guides the bipolar about the benefits of complying with the treatment.
  5. It reduces a patient’s dependence on drugs and offers an alternate treatment method for managing mania and depression.
  6. It equips the subject to deal with stress and negative life experiences that may trigger an episode of depression or mania.
  7. It trains the patient to get over milder episodes of mania and depression without taking stronger drugs.
  8. It teaches the subject techniques and strategies to tackle societal negativity associated with bipolar disorder.

The extent to which cognitive behaviour therapy plays a role in the treatment of bipolar disorder depends to a large extent upon cognitive skills that a subject possesses. Bipolars who have been struggling with the condition since their pre-teens need careful guidance so that they can express themselves socially, manage stress, and go about their daily routines in a smooth manner. Such people often experience many episodes of manic depression before they come to terms with their condition and agree to treatment.

Substance abuse is a serious concern with bipolar sufferers, and medication alone has been found insufficient in dealing with this issue. Therapists act as counsellors and with the help of family members can track a bipolar’s behaviour so that any tendencies to substance abuse can be thwarted. CBT clears a patient’s doubts about the treatment process and the therapist is always there to answer questions and put the subject’s mind at ease.

CBT is an important confidence-building tool. Episodes of manic depression can sap an individual’s confidence. They may turn to drugs or alcohol to lift their morale during depressive stages.  Symptoms of substance abuse may actually manifest before a correct diagnosis of the underlying bipolar disorder can be made. This is not a desirable situation, and early consultation with therapists can put subjects on the right path to treatment and ensure that their personality develops as it should.

Regular therapy is a big help in allowing subjects to finish their education and become useful members of society. It equips them with skills to deal with episodes of manic depression so that they can continue to exhibit a high level of social and professional functioning. Bipolar patients learn to live without feeling guilty about their condition.

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