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Is Cognitive Therapy Effective For Bipolar Disorder?

Learn about the benefits and efficacy of cognitive therapy for bipolar disorder and if it’s right for you or your loved one.

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What Is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)? 

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a well-known therapeutic technique used to treat a wide range of issues, such as depression, anxiety disorders, marital issues, eating disorders, and serious mental disorders. Evidence has shown the positive effects of CBT on many problems and conditions for children and adults.1

CBT is a type of psychotherapy that focuses on helping people learn how to recognize and change harmful or distressing thought patterns that affect their behavior and emotions. These destructive thought patterns are identified and addressed to create room for more objective and realistic thought patterns.

Cognitive Therapy For Bipolar

Is CBT Evidence-Based?

For bipolar disorder and other cognitive mood disorders, cognitive behavioral therapy is recognized as an evidence-based treatment. The techniques and methods utilized in this therapy effectively help treat bipolar symptoms, allowing clients to gain more control of their thoughts, behaviors, and emotions.

Is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Bipolar Disorder Effective?

Medication is usually the first form of treatment for bipolar disorder; however, it may not always be effective, as each client and situation is different. Thus, cognitive behavioral therapy is an ideal solution to help treat and ease symptoms of the disorder.

A meta-analysis determined that CBT has a positive impact on people with bipolar disorder in terms of reducing depression levels, improving manic severity, decreasing relapse rates, and promoting psychosocial functioning.2

How Does Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Fit Into Treatment?

Bipolar disorder treatment goals and objectives are simply to prevent recurrences or relapses. While cognitive behavioral therapy alone does not guarantee this, it doesn't take away the importance of therapy for bipolar. CBT can help as part of the treatment plan by:

Addressing Depressive Symptoms That Occur as Part of Periods or Episodes of Depression

CBT for bipolar depression can help tackle hypomanic episodes associated with bipolar disorder. Depressive episodes can cause feelings of guilt, despair, sadness, and negative thoughts, ranging from mild to severe. CBT helps identify and address triggers that may cause these episodes and teaches how to handle and overcome depressive feelings.

Addressing Feelings of Guilt or Other Negative Thoughts and Beliefs About Manic Episodes

Looking back on events during a mood episode can elicit strong negative feelings, such as guilt,  humiliation, shame, and uselessness. Denying or dismissing any wrongdoing is unhealthy, but holding on to bad emotions is worse. Utilizing CBT for manic episodes makes dealing with these emotions relatively easier to achieve.

Addressing Feelings of Losing Friends or Relationships

People with bipolar disorder may often experience more intense feelings of confusion, anger, and loss when friendships come to an end. Bipolar-generated thoughts can be the cause of fixating on why the relationship ended, self-blame, and paranoia. Cognitive therapy for bipolar can help develop a realistic way of handling such issues that trigger these intense feelings.

How Does Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Work?

Cognitive behavioral therapy is considered a short-term treatment, but the length of each treatment varies depending on the client. So, CBT can range from a few sessions to several months.3

Generally, with the right therapist, CBT works by helping clients:

Determine the Problem

Problems can be anything, such as grief, divorce, depression, anxiety, etc. Identifying the problem paves the way for examining thoughts, emotions, and behaviors associated with the recognized problem.

Examine the Thoughts, Behaviors, and Emotions Associated With These Problems

The client is guided through examining their perception of the situation. Reflecting on their life and choices can be beneficial in determining the best opportunities for growth.

Spot Negative or Inaccurate Thoughts, Behaviors, and Emotions

Clients work with their therapist to spot the negative thought patterns associated with the problem. Engaging in cognitive distortion group activities can be quite helpful at this stage.

Change Your Reaction

This might be the most challenging step, as it can be difficult for people to change their perception, especially when it’s about themselves. However, clients can achieve this with guidance from the therapist and constant and conscious practice. 

CBT Techniques for Bipolar Disorder

Cognitive therapy for bipolar disorder is more than just recognizing negative thought patterns—it's about applying a variety of tactics to help people overcome them. Some CBT techniques for bipolar disorder include the following:4

Accepting Your Diagnosis

Therapists can help clients accept their bipolar diagnosis by enlightening them more on the illness. This is a vital technique for bipolar disorder.

Monitoring Your Mood

Keeping records of behaviors and experiences is important for ensuring effective CBT outcomes. This information helps the therapist decide the best way to proceed with the treatment.

Undergoing Cognitive Restructuring

This cognitive behavioral therapy technique for bipolar disorder entails teaching clients about the importance of their thoughts and how they influence mood. In addition, it teaches how to recognize harmful or destructive thoughts and how to change them. As a result, they will be able to establish a balanced style of thinking independently.

Bipolar disorder can cause fluctuating negative and positive emotional responses, known as affective personality. Research shows that CBT influences positive changes in a person’s affective personality, increasing positive emotional responses and decreasing negative ones.5 

Frequent Problem-Solving

Acquiring problem-solving skills can assist clients in identifying and resolving issues that occur from both large and small life stressors that cause lapses. This is unarguably an essential technique in cognitive behavioral therapy for bipolar disorder.

Enhancing Your Social Skills

This technique in cognitive behavioral therapy for bipolar disorder equips clients with social skills like assertiveness that can help in social situations.

Stabilizing Your Routine

A study has shown that regular routines were found to help people avoid new depressive and manic episodes for longer than those who only took medication.6 

How to Maximize Bipolar Treatment

Usually, treatment interventions for bipolar disorder include medication and psychotherapy. The behavioral theory of bipolar disorder highlights the importance of reward and goal sensitivity.

Bipolar episodes are influenced by environmental factors, triggered by either negative or positive life events, or both. Nonetheless, negative and positive life events are part of life; therefore, anyone with bipolar disorder must ensure they observe the following to control how these events affect them.

Listen to Your Doctor

After accepting a bipolar diagnosis, ensure all instructions given by the doctor are adhered to. Follow the doctor’s recommendation and be consistent with taking the medications as prescribed for a more stable mood. For bipolar cognitive therapy to be effective, clients need to choose the right therapist and engage in therapy activities for bipolar disorder as instructed by their therapist.

Do Your CBT Homework

Cognitive therapy homework includes practicing new abilities, coping methods, and skills and modifying harmful thoughts. Of course, practice does make perfect.

Continue Learning About Bipolar Disorder

Participate fully and actively in the treatment plan and engage in therapy activities for bipolar disorder. Studying the symptoms, joining discussions, and attending support groups can help clients understand and embrace their condition. Thus, they will be better equipped to deal with symptoms and make appropriate decisions for themselves because they are more well-informed.

Cognitive Therapy For Bipolar

Cognitive Therapy for Bipolar at Anew Treatment Center

At Anew Treatment Center, we have a well-structured bipolar cognitive therapy program to help you or your loved one get the help they need to manage bipolar disorder.

CBT Techniques for Bipolar Disorder

Our CBT techniques for bipolar disorder include the following:

  • Cognitive restructuring
  • Guided discovery
  • Exposure therapy
  • Journaling
  • Activity scheduling and behavior activation
  • Behavioral therapy
  • Relaxation techniques
  • Roleplaying
  • SMART goals

Opportunities for Change at Anew Treatment Center

We aim to help clients address overwhelming problems associated with bipolar disorder. Our highly qualified medical professionals and staff help each client understand how certain thoughts can trigger episodes and practice a healthy, realistic, and objective way of thinking. We will equip you with the necessary skills and tools to best navigate your everyday life and challenges.

Our top priority is your overall wellness – mental, physical, and emotional. Contact us today to learn more and begin your self-discovery and growth journey today.

Learn More About Our Treatment Programs

Our team is ready to talk and determine how we can help. Rest assured your call is confidential. We're here for you.