Can Psychotherapy Help with Depression?

Whether you’re struggling with anxiety, depression, PTDS, or any other form of mental illness, psychotherapy may be worth considering. Commonly referred to as “talk therapy,” psychotherapy is designed to help you learn problem-solving skills that can lead to changes in behaviour patterns. Also, it can aid in finding ways to cope with the negative feelings that accompany most mental health disorders like being overly self-critical and self-loathing, for example. In this article, we will take a closer look at what psychotherapy entails and why it is so helpful in treating mental health problems.

HOW DOES PSYCHOTHERAPY WORK?

Psychotherapy places a strong emphasis on “talking through your problems” and working towards resolving them. In most cases, patients are encouraged to track their progress throughout their treatment sessions by writing down their thoughts and tracking mood changes. For those who are trying to overcome anxiety, psychotherapy may include engaging in social activities that may have previously resulted in anxiety. The rationale behind this approach is to help the patient become desensitized to events that can trigger feelings of anxiousness. All in all, psychotherapy is delineated by short counselling sessions aimed at focusing on the patient’s current thoughts, feeling, and general problems that impede them from living a truly fulfilled life. That said, frequent psychotherapy sessions may be needed early on, but they will become less frequent as you progress through therapy.

COPING SKILLS AND PSYCHOTHERAPY

Now that we have a general idea of what psychotherapy entails let’s take a moment to explore how it changes thought patterns and feelings that can contribute to mental illness. In each psychotherapy session, you will learn the following steps to cope with your mental health problems:
  • Accepting and understanding mental health problem
  • Managing your stress
  • Learning to cope with crises
  • Identifying why thing bother you
  • How to avoid destructive habits
  • Identifying your triggers
  • How to cope with your fears and insecurities
  • Setting wellness goals
  • Learning how to better understand traumatic life experiences
  • Separating true personality traits from those brought on by mental illness

CHOOSING THE RIGHT FORM OF PSYCHOTHERAPY

When it comes to choosing the right type of psychotherapy, your mental health problem will likely dictate which option is right for you. That said, psychotherapy treatments can include CBT, family-focused therapy, DBT, or IPT. Having established what is available, let’s take a closer look at what these specific treatments entail: CBT (Cognitive Behavior Therapy) – This form of psychotherapy is goal-oriented and is best suited for patients willing to take an active role in overcoming their mental health problems. CBT generally involves recognizing automatic thoughts or beliefs that translate into negative feelings, emotions, or patterns of behaviour. Your CBT therapist works to help you identify thoughts, feelings, and beliefs are false and nonproductive and helps you through the process of changing them. It is worth noting that CBT works best for patients who have a calm and open to suggestions as it creates an opportunity for them take actionable steps toward achieving planned goals. FFT (Family Focused Therapy) – This form of psychotherapy helps identify challenges and conflicts with family members as they may be contributing to a patient’s mental health problems. Family-focused therapy is intended to help the individual and family members find productive ways to resolve conflicts and other familial problems. To accomplish this goal, therapists will explain in detail the patient’s mental health diagnosis and how the family can help them in overcoming it. Family-focused therapy also benefits the patient’s family in that it teaches them how to cope with the stress that comes with taking care of a relative diagnosed with a mental health disorder. Why is family-focused therapy so beneficial? Well, it helps minimize the burn out that family members invariably experience when caring for a loved one with a mental health disorder. Beyond that, it allows the patient to concentrate on overcoming their problems without feeling like they have become a burden on their family. DBT (Dialectical Behavior Therapy) – DBT is a cognitive behaviour therapy variant that helps patients in understanding that their challenges, behaviour, and feelings are valid and shouldn’t be a source of shame, which is especially helpful for those struggling with depression or anxiety. Also, DBT therapists work to help patients understand that when it comes to changing unhealthy or disruptive behaviour, the onus falls on them. It is also worth noting that DBT can be in the form of individual or group therapy. IPT (Interpersonal Therapy) – This form of therapy places a strong emphasis on time and achieving goals. Unlike CBT and DBT, interpersonal therapy focuses on resolving present-day problems as opposed to addressing what may have contributed them. Some may argue that this is not the best way to resolve a mental health problem, but it has proven to be effective for some patients. How does it work, you ask? IPT addresses your mental health symptoms and social relationships that you may have. This information is then used to implement social adjustments that can help ease anxious or depressive symptoms, for example, without changing the patient’s personality.

HOW TO GET THE MOST OF YOUR PSYCHOTHERAPY SESSIONS

Although your therapist will be doing most of the “heavy lifting,” you will be responsible for pulling your own weight in your psychotherapy sessions. To get the most out of these sessions, consider writing down a list of problems you would like to address; the list can include
  • Thought of self-harm
  • Managing irritability or anxiety
  • Relationship problems
  • Changes in eating or sleeping habits
Having an idea about the problems you want to address during therapy can help make them more productive. It is also helpful to note that during your initial sessions your therapist will be doing more listening than talking; this is nothing to be concerned about as it is completely normal. Your therapist will be trying to assess your mental health problem, and this requires patience and good listening skills, which, coincidentally are the hallmarks of a good therapist. Although your therapist will be intent on listening while you’re discussing your problems, don’t hesitate to ask them questions as it can help decide whether he or she is a good fit for you.

MENTAL HEALTH PROFESSIONALS WHO OFFER PSYCHOTHERAPY

If you’re considering psychotherapy to resolve depression, anxiety, or any other mental health disorder, you’re probably also wondering how to go about choosing a therapist. If so, you’re encouraged to continue reading. Most licensed mental health professionals are well-versed in psychotherapy. These mental health professionals include social workers, psychiatrist, counsellors and, in some cases, psychiatric nurses. To that point, it is a good idea to execute due diligence in choosing the right mental health professional to help you cope with and, most importantly, overcome your mental health problems. It is equally important to be as honest as possible during your treatment sessions as it can provide an opportunity to make appreciable progress. In summation, psychotherapy is a great way to identify the underlying problems that may be contributing to your mental health problems. While certain pharmacotherapies are also effective, they only provide a short-term fix. The ability to talk through your problems with a licensed mental health professional, on the other hand, can offer long-term solutions that are not only sustainable but also effective. If you’re struggling with any form of mental illness, you’re encouraged to try one of the psychotherapy methods outlined in this article before resorting to taking medication that could potentially cause undesirable side effects.
How to find a good psychotherapist ?

How to find a Good Psychotherapist?

How to find a Good Psychotherapist

If you are feeling overwhelmed and having a hard time dealing with your problems, psychotherapy may be able to help. Psychotherapy involves the use of scientifically validated procedures that can help people become happier, healthier, as well as more productive. The National Institute of Mental Health estimates that one in four people of all ages have debilitating problems and can benefit from psychotherapy. Once a person acknowledges their need and desire for the help psychotherapy can provide, the next step is to figure out how they can find the right psychotherapist for their needs.

A Collaborative Relationship

Effective psychotherapy requires a collaborative relationship between a person and their therapist. A psychologist is able to help people work through their problems using interpersonal, cognitive-behavioral and other types of approaches to therapy. Psychotherapists use dialogue in a supportive environment working together with clients to help them identify and change negative thought and behavior patterns which prevent them from feeling their best. When the therapy is completed, the client would have solved the problem which brought them to the therapist and learned new coping skills that enable them to deal with future challenges that may arise.

Characteristics Of A Good Therapist

Finding a good psychotherapist can be a daunting task. But if the person seeking help looks for certain key characteristics in the therapist, finding the right one can be a lot easier. A good therapist should be patient, accepting, neutral, objective and nonjudgmental. They should encourage the client to speak openly about their feelings and concerns and help them process and understand them. The right psychotherapist can help people deal with anger, anxiety, depression, prolonged feelings of sadness and helplessness and a host of other short-term and long-term problems that interfere with their physical and emotional well-being.

    Related Article: Is Psychotherapy a Waste of Time?  

Treatment Methods

Therapists employ a variety of treatment methods to help people better navigate their daily challenges. They draw on their psychological and psychiatric training, counseling and behavior modification techniques, psychoanalytic and humanistic approaches, current psychological research and their theoretical orientation to act as a mentor and guide. You have to decide if you are comfortable with the methods the psychoanalyst uses and if you feel they will work best for you. That decision will take some research on your part and a willingness to try different types of therapists.

The First Step

When looking for the right psychotherapist, the first step is to compile a list of good candidates. You can do this by talking to several different groups. If you have a physician you trust and like, you can ask them to recommend a therapist your insurance plan will cover. You can also contact the American Psychologist Association Practice Organization for a list of qualified psychoanalysts in your area. They can provide information on the area of specialization and experience of their members. Local mental health associations and the psychology departments of colleges and universities near you can also help. Plus, you can also check with mental health centers in your local community. If you are comfortable disclosing your search, you can ask relatives and friends for recommendations as well.

Refining Your List

Once you have compiled a good list of names, you can begin to identify the best candidates. Using criteria like the number of years they have been in practice, accolades and awards for excellent work, a track record of success treating patients with conditions similar to yours, methods they use, proximity to your home and being recommended by multiple sources, you can begin to refine your choices. Ideally, you want to identify the top ten candidates before you begin to do more in-depth research. You can always return to your master list should you not be satisfied with any of your top ten choices.

Do Basic Telephone Interviews

The next step in the process of selecting a good psychoanalyst is to contact the offices of the top 10 candidates to get more information on their services. Compile a list of questions that are important to you. They should include questions about licensure, areas of expertise, years of experience and the types of treatments they use. Briefly explain the problems that have you concerned and mention if you’ve been diagnosed with a specific condition. Ask if the psychologist has experience dealing with your issues and how effective they have been treating them. This should give you enough information to cut your list in half.

Ask About Prices

You can’t put a price on good mental and emotional health. However, unless you are fabulously wealthy, the cost of the treatment should be a consideration. Begin by seeing if your health insurance will cover the cost of the treatment you need. Find out if the psychologists charge variable rates or a sliding scale and for which ones you qualify. Make them aware of the limits of your funds and request the lowest hourly rate possible. Ask about discounts for paying in cash. See what if any free or deeply discounted psychological services are available in your local community health centers and choose the best one available.

Schedule A Session With The Top Candidates

The only way to ultimately decide which therapist will work best for you is to meet them in person. Schedule a session with the top two to five candidates on your list. Make notes after each session and compare them. With which one did you feel most comfortable speaking? Which one listened to you and asked meaningful questions? Did any of them make you feel hopeful or relieved? Did one of them seem more competent than the rest? If none of them wowed you, set up a second session with the best two or three. It may take two or three sessions before you find the right one for you.

Don’t Be Afraid To Change

Once you have begun seeing a therapist regularly, you still need to continue to assess your feelings about the quality of the treatment, your relationship and the results you are getting. Continuing to see a psychologist you are not totally satisfied with until you find a better one is fine. You can even tell the therapist why you are not completely satisfied and ask them to refer you to someone they think may be better suited to your needs. A good therapist that’s genuinely concerned about your well-being will be glad to help you find a better fit. You can also continue to do your own research until you find a therapist with which you are satisfied.

An Empowering Experience

The process of searching for a psychoanalyst that feels right and delivers the positive results you need is an empowering experience. Taking charge of your mental health is a powerful step. Ultimately, you are responsible for your own healing. The therapist helps the process along by providing you with the tools and guidance that helps you to identify and address the issues that are negatively impacting your mental and emotional health. It is a healthy move to continue to monitor your progress and decide if you are healing because or in spite of your therapist and change therapists if you feel it’s in your best interest.

An Ongoing Process

Working to improve your mental and emotional health is an ongoing process. So, too, is assessing the effectiveness of your therapist. The psychologist that gets you excellent results at the beginning of your journey towards optimal mental and emotional health may not be the right one for you as you begin to make progress, grow and heal. As your competence and confidence grow, you will be better able to decide if you need to change therapists. This is something you should discuss with your therapist. They can give you some unique, professional advice about your growth and your current psychological needs.

Get Started Today

The process of finding the right psychoanalyst can take some time. However, the sooner you start the process and begin to get help the better. It takes courage to admit to yourself you need help. You must then motivate yourself to take the steps necessary to find the right therapist to help you on your journey towards wellness. There is a vast amount of effective mental health treatment available to you. This will become clear as you start doing your research and ask for guidance, recommendations, and referrals. Although moving along the road to improved mental and emotional health is a very personal journey, there are many people willing and able to help with the process.

Improve Your Quality Of Life

Many people are paralyzed into inaction at the thought of having to deal with mental health issues. In the past, there was a negative stigma attached to people who needed and received mental health assistance. But these are more enlightened times. People understand that overcoming the fear and nervousness about seeking a therapist to help improve their mental health is worth it because, in the long run, it will improve their quality of life and that of the people around them. Psychotherapy can be a valuable tool. And while finding the right therapist can take some work, simply embarking on the process is an acknowledgment you know you have a problem and you are smart and brave enough to take the necessary steps to get help to solve it.
Is Psychotherapy a Waste of Time?

Is Psychotherapy a Waste of Time?

Is Psychotherapy a Waste of Time?

Despite the increasing knowledge of mental health disorders and the importance of mental health in your overall well-being, many people still feel that therapy is a waste of time, or just not an effective solution for their situation. This, of course, is a common misconception that people need to forget immediately. There are a number of myths and misconceptions about psychotherapy. The first step to understanding this as a treatment option is to get the real facts about therapy and what it can do for you.
Psychotherapy is a scientifically-proven method of helping people navigate their feelings and develop better-coping behaviors when dealing with emotional stress and mental health issues. Some therapists utilize clinical methods like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) to help patients rebuild their mental and emotional coping strategies and improve their overall well-being in this regard. Others use different methods of talk therapy, but they all have their benefits.

You Can’t Do It Alone- And You Don’t Have To

Many people assume that they can handle whatever issues they are facing on their own. Having a bad day might not be a reason to seek out a therapist, but if you are having a lot of bad days, you might need help. There are situations where the mental and emotional issues we face become too overwhelming and cause more serious consequences to our health, and therapy is often the most effective solution. Although people with more moderate needs might be able to resolve things on their own, therapy offers a quicker and more effective solution. It is designed to help you. Take advantage of that.

Therapy Isn’t Forever

Another major reason people avoid starting therapy is that they think it is a life sentence. However, many patients who are successful with psychotherapy will be able to develop a plan for ongoing success that involves ending therapy at some point. That isn’t to say that you might never need it again, but it doesn’t have to be seen as some never-ending commitment. The way that counseling works are to help you create effective skills for dealing with the mental and emotional stressors in your life. That may or may not include ongoing therapy, but in most cases, treatment plans are set up with an end-goal in sight.
Keep in mind, of course, that the finish line isn’t the real goal in therapy. The process itself is where you will gain the most reward. When you work with a professional, you should talk to them about the length of treatment or the milestones that you want to set to help you reach your goals and get the most out of these sessions. Therapy can help you speed up the process of healing or give you better coping skills, but it is not a race. Find the balance between an effective treatment plan and a timeline that suits your needs.

Therapy Helps Everyone

Psychotherapy isn’t just for people who are facing severe situations or serious mental illness. Obviously, it does provide more value in these cases, but anyone can use therapy to help them improve their mental health and emotional habits. In fact, many people use this as a proactive method to help them identify issues as they arise and develop effective coping skills. Anytime you are working through an emotional or mental health issue, it is worth considering a therapist. Think of it more like working with a personal trainer to improve your physical health, rather than visiting a doctor. If you take care of your mental health, you might not end up in a severe situation in the first place.
Signs you should consider talking to a therapist include:
-Feelings, behaviors, or thoughts that are preventing you from living a “normal” life
-When mental or emotional issues result in physical harm, such as in the case of cutting or eating disorders
-When time is limited and you need to improve emotional or behavioral issues quickly, such as for a CEO whose resulting poor performance might affect their career

Training Your Brain

Going back to the personal trainer reference, a professional therapist works with your mind in much the same way. These individuals will work with you to develop a program that works for you, based on your needs and the goals that you have in mind for seeking this treatment. They will help you identify thoughts and feelings that are shaping your life. They are listeners. They will utilize those skills to identify what is working for you and what isn’t. Plus, they can help you see how your mind works and how it can work better, no matter what type of mental, emotional, or behavioral issues you may be facing.
Many people see therapy as a waste of time, but these people aren’t looking at things from the right perspective. This is your opportunity to process your thoughts and emotions in a setting with someone who understands them and can help you learn how to handle them better. It isn’t just about sitting down and talking to someone who will listen. A good therapist will help you develop better habits, thought patterns, and coping skills. They will also help you identify negative reactions and ways to improve upon them, among other things. Talking is only a small part of the process, but a critical one so does not think of it as a waste of your time.

Reasons to Consider Therapy

A lot of the information here has been provided to debunk myths about psychotherapy. However, it is also important to look at the benefits and uses of therapy as it relates to mental and emotional health, life events, and stressors. Talking to a therapist can be beneficial for many people, as we’ve discussed. Those who could benefit the most include:
-People living with constant depression, anxiety, and/or phobias that are crippling to their daily life or activities
-Those suffering from the trauma of any kind
-People who need help reaching their goals or setting a clear direction for the future
-Parents and children who are struggling to communicate or have strained relationships
-Couples who are struggling to connect or experiencing conflict
-People navigating major life events, such as job loss, the death of a loved one, or divorce
-Those overcoming addictions or seeking aftercare upon completing an inpatient rehab program
-Anyone experiencing mental, emotional, or environmental stressors that are affecting their quality of life

Types of Clinical Methods Used in Therapy

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a widely-used treatment option for people seeing a therapist. In this method, a therapist will help you identify key thoughts, behaviours, and actions that may be negatively impacting your mental well-being. Then, they will work with you to change the way to respond to stressful situations and these negative thoughts and actions. The result creates a more empowered way for you to approach the mental health issues or stressors in your life, giving you back control.
There are a number of other therapeutic methods available in therapy, as well, so people who have not found success with CBT should not be deterred. Some of the other methods used by therapists include:
Of course, all therapists start with an assessment to help them determine what method(s) will best suit your needs. They understand that treatment isn’t a one-size solution and will help you to come up with a treatment plan that meets your goals.

The Bottom Line: Therapy Works

There are many ways that you can attempt to improve your mental and emotional health, but none are quite as effective as therapy. Because there is still such a stigma attached to mental health and seeing a therapist, there is also a lot of misinformation and mistrust of the mental health industry as a sound profession. This is unfortunate because therapists truly have a lot to offer. Even for someone who is just feeling a little lost in life, a therapist could be the ideal solution to finding a new path and getting life back on track.
Psychotherapy isn’t just for people with serious mental health issues. Having a therapist isn’t a “Hollywood trend” or anything like that. Everyday people talk to therapists all the time, and they see a lot of success. If you have areas in your life where you have been struggling, it might be worthwhile to at least consider this option. With a reputable, licensed therapist, it can work for you if you are willing to put in the work.
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How much does Psychotherapy Cost in Canada?

How much does Psychotherapy Cost in Canada?

How much does Psychotherapy Cost in Canada?

What You Need to Know about the Cost of Psychotherapy in Canada In recent years, the stigma surrounding mental health issues has started to fade. However, we still haven’t gotten to the point where everyone can talk about those problems comfortably. Way too many people still struggle through their daily lives without having their mental health issues resolved. According to the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, numerous Canadians are still not receiving the care they need. Only half of Canadians who have experienced a major depressive episode have received what is termed as “potentially adequate care.” The figures become even more troubling upon taking a closer look at younger individuals. Estimates suggest that 75 percent of children affected by mental health disorders are unable to receive the care they need. It’s possible that the stigma surrounding mental health is still the leading cause for people shying away from receiving care. However, there’s a chance that not knowing about the cost of getting help is playing a role in that too. If you’re unaware of the cost of psychotherapy, then please read on as we’ll discuss that matter at length here. We’ll also talk about strategies and management plans that can help you or a loved one receive mental health care.

Related Article: Is Psychotherapy a Waste of Time?  

The Cost of Undergoing a Psychotherapy Session in Canada

Let’s get to the heart of the matter right away and discuss what you should expect with regards to pricing. The first thing you need to know about pricing is that it’s not fixed. The cost of a single session will vary depending on where you live and the type of therapy you’re seeking. Talking Can Help notes that a single 50-minute session can cost anywhere from $60 to $150. Meanwhile, Informed Choices has the price range at $50 to $240 for a one-hour session. Those are just the average numbers, however. A therapist may decide to use a sliding scale to make therapy a more affordable option. The sliding scale will take into account your monthly income. It’s also possible that a charitable organization may be offering therapy in your area. Check with them as some charitable organizations offer therapy in exchange for a small donation. Some charitable organizations may even provide therapy at no charge. Lastly, some therapists are members of volunteer organizations. You can approach them for help and potentially not be asked to pay depending on your current financial state.

Can I Receive Therapy with No Additional Charge?

After learning about the cost of therapy, you may be thinking that it’s not for you. Perhaps you’re among the individuals who make just enough to pay but aren’t financially secure enough to do so. Before you stop considering getting treatment altogether, you should know that you have options. Some of the options are even available at no extra cost. For instance, you can consult with a therapist to help figure out how you should proceed. Therapy Canada points out that some therapists will offer free consultation sessions. This consultation session will help you understand if therapy is for you. It should also give you the info you need to determine which therapist can best assist you. Do not hesitate to ask any questions during this consultation. It’s a confidential session. You can even discuss potential payment options if you would like to know more about that. Now, there are instances wherein your medical plan or insurance plan already accounts for therapy. This means you won’t have to pay out of pocket for any additional costs. Your current family medical plan may already include therapy options. Take advantage of that if that’s the case. Schools and universities also have insurance plans that may offer therapy as an option for students. Access to therapy may also be one of the benefits given to you by your current job. The bottom line is that you need to check all your options first before you make a decision on therapy. You may be stressing out needlessly when it turns out you can receive help for no extra cost.

Are There More Cost-Effective Ways to Pay for Therapy?

If it turns out that free therapy is not an option, you can still get it at a reduced cost. During your free consultation, ask the therapist which options are best for someone at your income level. They will present you with all the options worth considering. Group therapy is not for everyone, but it is a more affordable option. You can also stick to individual sessions but have them spread out over a longer period of time. Doing so will provide you with extra opportunities to get the money needed together. You should also complete all the assignments given to you. Accomplishing the assignments on time will reduce the therapy sessions you will need to attend. It would also be to your benefit to make the most out of your free consultation. Ask yourself honestly if you are completely comfortable with the therapist you are consulting with. Don’t waste your money by paying for a session with a therapist you aren’t compatible with.

How Can I Get in Touch with a Psychotherapist?

After making the decision to see a therapist, the next step is to find one. You may no longer have to do this if you went through the consultation process. However, if you decided against participating in that, there are still ways to get in touch with mental health professionals. One option is to go to the Canadian Mental Health Association or CMHA. The CMHA offers its own share of services and there should be a branch located near where you live. You can also make use of GoodTherapy.org to find psychotherapists who are practicing in your province. If you or someone you know is in need of more immediate help, Crisis Services Canada will prove immensely helpful.

Is Therapy Something I Need?

For many, admitting they need help with their mental health is a huge obstacle to overcome. Still, you can look for signs present in an individual who needs help. Prolonged issues with anxiety and nervousness could be indicators of lingering mental health problems. Relationship and professional issues could also be the triggers for a mental health crisis. It’s not easy or advisable to deal with those issues by yourself. A psychotherapist will be able to help you root out the deeper reasons for your problems. People also often make the mistake of waiting too long before seeking help. You do not have to wait for a crisis before you look for help with your mental health. It will always be better to get out in front of your problem. A psychotherapist will help you accomplish exactly that.

Conclusion

It is truly unfortunate that mental health issues continue to go untreated in Canada. That’s more troubling considering that one in every five Canadians deals with mental illness or addiction in any given year. There is simply no good reason for so many people to go without help, especially considering the availability of therapy. A lack of money does not mean that you cannot receive care. As we’ve already discussed, there are ways for people from all walks of life to get help. Neither stigma nor therapy prices should deter anyone from seeking assistance for their mental health. Hopefully, you will now be more open to therapy upon learning how accessible it is.
Can psychotherapy help bipolar disorder?

Can psychotherapy help bipolar disorder?

Can Psychotherapy help Bipolar Disorder?

BIPOLAR DISORDER BY THE NUMBERS
We live in a society today where mental illness is more prevalent than ever before. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) reports that in 2018, 18 .5% of the U.S. population experienced some type of mental illness. That’s 43.8 million adults. Of those numbers, 2.6% were affected by bipolar disorder.

What is Bipolar Disorder?

Bipolar disorder, also known as manic depression, causes rapid changes in an individual’s mood and energy levels. This can severely impact a person’s ability to function in day-to-day life. The condition usually begins in late adolescence/early adulthood, but it has also shown up during childhood and advanced adulthood. It is not uncommon for people to live their entire lives without ever having the condition diagnosed. This is because it is often dismissed as nothing more than “mood swings”.

Types of Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder is characterized by two types of behaviors: mania and depression. In the mania phase, the individual will display symptoms/behaviors such as:
1. Extremely good, often euphoric moods
2. An exaggerated attitude of self-importance
3. Insomnia
4. An increase in sexual activity
5. Aggressive behavior extreme irritability
During the depressive phase, the following symptoms/behaviours can occur: 
1. Feelings of anxiety and sadness
2. Fatigue, decrease in energy
3. Feelings of worthlessness
5. Difficulty in decision-making; poor memory In between these phases, the individual exhibits normal moves and behaviours.
Detection and diagnosis of bipolar disorder are based solely on symptoms, family history, and the development of the illness. There are currently no physiological tests such as MRI, CAT scan, or blood tests that can detect it. Once the pattern of the symptoms has been mapped out, a course of treatment can be decided upon. Doctors use the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, or DSM, to identify the illness and categorize it.

Types of Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder falls into one of four categories: 
1. Bipolar I Disorder – Manic or combined episodes lasting for at least seven days, or manic episodes severe enough to require hospitalization. Depressive symptoms may also manifest and last at least 14 days. The symptoms in either instance will display a significant deviation from the individual’s normal behaviours.
2. Bipolar II Disorder – Depressive episodes switch with hypomanic episodes, however, there are no manic or combined episodes.
3. Bipolar Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (BP-NOS) – The individual displays symptoms that do not fall under requirements for either a bipolar I or II diagnosis. The symptoms do, however, deviate from the individual’s normal behaviour range.
4. Cyclothymic Disorder (Cyclothymia) – This is a mild form of bipolar disorder. The behaviours are present which indicate the illness. Hypomania and mild depression will occur back and forth for a minimum of two years. The symptoms, however, do not fall under the requirements for any of the other categories of bipolar disorder.
There is also a condition known as Rapid-Cycling Bipolar Disorder. This occurs when the individual experiences at least four episodes of mania, hypomania, major depression, or a combination of symptoms within a 12-month period.
There is no known cure for bipolar disorder at the present time. However, there are treatments which make it manageable so that the individual is able to live a relatively normal and productive life. It is mostly most effectively controlled when the treatment is regular and continuous. One of the most effective treatments for bipolar disorder has been proven to be psychotherapy.

Can Psychotherapy Help Bipolar Disorder?

Psychotherapy is most basically defined as the psychological treatment of a mental disorder in lieu of medications or medical treatment. This treatment is often referred to as “talk therapy” since that is essentially what it consists of. Psychotherapy involves treatment by a fully trained mental health professional. It is structured, scheduled regularly, and customized to help each patient’s needs while applying common treatment principles and methods. Most psychotherapy treatment sessions last for about 50 minutes and occur weekly or bi-weekly. The term “talk therapy” is a wide generalization as it implies that simply talking will bring results. While open and honest communication is very important for treatment to be effective, there is much more to psychotherapy then just chatting. A professional therapist is trained to apply specific techniques and principles to help their client.
While talking about issues with close friends or trusted family members can be beneficial, this is not treated in itself, for a few reasons. The main reason for this is simple. Regardless of how well-meaning they are, family and friends lack professional training. Talking with them can sometimes help, but it isn’t enough to deal with bipolar disorder.
Another concern involves privacy. Speaking with a mental health professional allows you to completely open up and share everything. No matter how much you love and trust your friends and family members, there is simply no way to ensure privacy. Your therapist is bound by the laws of doctor-patient confidentiality, so you can always speak freely. This is the most important aspect of treatment.
Suppose, for example, you have an issue with a particular family member that may be directly affecting your mental health. How could you be completely open and share this with another family member? Having to repress it would only make your condition worse. A professional counsellor will always listen without judgment and be completely impartial. Your counsellor wants to help you, while someone else may have ulterior motives for getting you to open up and talk.

The Benefits of a Psychotherapist

A psychotherapist is trained to hear much more than just what you say. A professional will hear the real meaning behind your words. They can ascertain a great deal of information not just from your words but from body language, facial expressions, a tone of voice, etc. They can make important determinations based on many factors. This Is how they are able to effectively diagnose and treat bipolar disorder.
Your therapist will be focused on you. They want to hear what you have to say. Friends and family members will be more conversational, interjecting their own opinions, ideas, and discussing their own problems. That will not be helpful to you. In fact, in some instances, it can cause more problems with your mental health.
Psychotherapy provides you with a private outlet to comfortably express yourself and openly share all the things that need to be shared. You will have at your disposal a trained professional. Your therapist’s main focus is to teach you coping mechanisms to help you in your everyday life. Different therapists are trained in different aspects of psychotherapy treatment. Once the level of your bipolar disorder is determined, you will be paired with a therapist with the specific skills to help you.
The stigma that was associated with mental health issues for so long has lost its negative influence. There are a great deal more openness and understanding regarding mental illnesses and their causes. Those who suffer from them are no longer hidden away or considered outcasts from society. Bipolar disorder no longer has the power to control lives. Psychotherapy has become a real game-changer in helping people to overcome this issue and live full, happy lives.