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Explains what bipolar disorder is, what kinds of treatment are available, and how you can help yourself cope. Also provides guidance on what friends and family can do to help.
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) – the organisation that produces guidelines on best practice in health care – suggests that treatment for bipolar disorder should include both talking treatments and medication.
This page covers:
The exact combination of treatments you’re offered will depend on whether you’re managing a current bipolar episode, or managing your mental health in the long term.
For information on drug treatments, see our separate page on medication for bipolar disorder.
"[I find] the biggest step is accepting that is who you are. Changing your ways with meds and therapy is a hard slog."
(See our pages on depression for more information on treatments and self-care tips for depression.)
(See our pages on hypomania and mania for more information on treatments and self-care tips for mania and hypomania.)
The aim of treatment should be to help you maintain stable moods and manage your symptoms well. As you start to feel more stable, the majority of your support could come from a community mental health team (CMHT) or your GP, although your GP should arrange for you to still be in touch with a mental health specialist.
Your health professionals should work with you to help you identify:
If you are receiving a talking therapy, you might set some of these goals with your therapist. You should share these goals with your GP. You may also want to share them with your family, friends and carer if you have one.
"It has been 13 years since I was hospitalised or sectioned, and [I've] done so well. My medication is working."
There are several talking therapies you might be offered to help you manage your bipolar disorder in the long term. These are a few that have been tested and shown to work well for some people, although other therapies may work too:
Other types of talking therapies you may be offered are:
Some of these treatments are more widely available than others. What you are offered can also depend on what you and your doctor agree would be most useful for you.
(For more information on different types of talking therapies, including how to access them, see our pages on talking therapies.)
Talking therapies can help you:
"Bipolar disorder is one of those things that if you have it and it's well controlled, you can use it productively... it's in [my] best interest to take [my] meds, see [my] shrink regularly and stay well."
If you start to feel very unwell, or if an episode of depression or mania is lasting for a long time and your regular treatment isn't working, you may need to access crisis services to help you get through it. This may include:
(See our pages on crisis services for more detailed information about your options in a crisis, how to access services, and how you can plan ahead.)
This information was published in May 2018. We will revise it in 2021.
References are available on request. If you would like to reproduce any of this information, see our page on permissions and licensing.