Bipolar Disorder Therapy Chicago

Bipolar Disorder Therapy Chicago

Bipolar Disorder Therapy

What is Bipolar Disorder & How Therapy Can Help?

Bipolar disorder is defined by extreme ups and downs in mood. Mania is the term used to describe the elevated mood, which includes symptoms such as elation, irritability, risky behavior, decreased need for sleep and rapid or racing thoughts. Hypomania is the term used to define periods of elevated mood that are slightly less severe than mania, where the individual typically experiences high mood, feels productive and confident with slightly less need for sleep or slightly more racing thoughts than is typical. Mania or hypomania then give way to a depressive episode, with all of the usual symptoms of depression including change in sleep or appetite, lack of interest in activities that were once enjoyable, low energy, difficulty concentrating and increased tearfulness. An individual with Bipolar Disorder experiences this fluctuation in mood cyclically.

Bipolar disorder therapy is extremely effective to regulate mood and therefore improve the functioning for individuals with bipolar disorder. Therapy helps to bring light to the cyclical nature of the disorder, identifies the negative impact of the symptoms, and offers support and guidance for the individual as they aim to stabilize. Bipolar disorder therapy also aims to assist the individual in getting connected to a trusted medical professional so proper medication can be prescribed.

Come see us at our Chicago therapy office for therapy for Bipolar Disorder. Our offices are conveniently located on Michigan Avenue near Millenium Park. There are many nearby parking options and we are a few blocks walk from the state/lake CTA red line stop.

If the office is not close to you, we can easily see you via online therapy as we do for many clients in Illinois.

Diagnosing Bipolar Disorder

When considering bipolar disorder therapy, proper diagnosis is paramount. A trusted and experienced Psychiatrist or licensed therapist can diagnose based on a thorough assessment of the individual’s symptoms, personal history and family history. An individual must meet all criteria in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual to be diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Once the diagnosis is made treatment can begin and the individual will start the process of healing. 

Bipolar Disorder Types

There are three types of bipolar disorder. All three are marked by the same mood and energy shifts, and they differ in severity of the symptoms. 

Bipolar I:

is characterized by cycles of mania and depressive episodes, with some potential periods of stability in between. Mania might require medical attention if the individual does not sleep for a period of several days or is engaging in very risky behavior. 

Bipolar II:

is characterized by periods of hypomania and depressive episodes. Hypomania differs from mania because it is less severe and therefore can feel less distressing for the individual. It is important to note that hypomania if left untreated can evolve into mania. 

Cyclothymic Disorder

is characterized by a distinct cycle of ups and downs in mood that are less severe than Bipolar I and II. Short periods of hypomania and depressive symptoms do not meet criteria for bipolar I or II, but remain noticeable and distressing to the individual. 

What it’s like to live with Bipolar Disorder?


Bipolar disorder is highly individual as is the impact it can have on each individual’s life. Often it can lead to a lack of self-trust as the individual comes down from mania and is faced with choices they’ve made that have serious consequences such as spending money recklessly, cheating on a romantic partner or driving under the influence of alcohol. Suicide and self-harm are common both due to the consistent depression as well as the aftermath of mania. Self-worth is often damaged and questioned because their mental state is so unpredictable and extreme.

Prevalence of Bipolar Disorder

Approximately 2.5% of adults will be diagnosed with bipolar disorder in a given year in the U.S, with the numbers being similar between men and women. Adolescents are also impacted by bipolar disorder, with 2-3% of the adolescent population meeting criteria. 

Causes of Bipolar Disorder

There is not one single cause of bipolar disorder, rather it is thought to be a combination of factors. Genetics play a significant role in causing bipolar disorder, if relatives have been diagnosed there is an increased chance of further diagnosis down the familial line. Additionally, there is research to indicate the specific genes could be major players in the cyclical mood shifts of bipolar disorder, and those genes are largely genetically determined as well. Finally, enduring trauma in early life is a risk factor that can play a part in the development of bipolar disorder because of how it can alter the brain’s structure and functioning. 

What is therapy for Bipolar Disorder like?

Bipolar disorder therapy is curated for the specific needs of the individual. It involves individual therapy with a trained mental health professional, and can also include family therapy, couples therapy, group therapy or support groups. In more severe cases, bipolar disorder therapy can involve higher levels of care such as hospitalization to stabilize and maintain safety. 

The primary goals of bipolar disorder therapy are to eliminate any shame associated with the disorder through psychoeducation and validation, help the individual recognize the signs and symptoms of the disorder and how it impacts them specifically, and promote healthy coping skills to manage mood and overall wellness in hopes of reaching a point of stability. 

CBT for Bipolar Disorder

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a common and highly effective treatment used in bipolar disorder therapy. CBT aims to support the individual in recognizing how their thoughts, emotions and behaviors are connected, and encourages them to make effective changes within that system. CBT highlights the importance of shifting ineffective thought patterns which will then have a positive impact on mood, and lead to more desirable behaviors. Mindfulness is a core component of CBT, and is critical in bipolar disorder therapy because it allows the individual to understand their own personal signs and symptoms of depression and mania or hypomania. With that knowledge, the individual can prepare, seek support and cope effectively to reduce the impact of the episode. 

Psychoeducation

Psychoeducation is a cornerstone of bipolar disorder therapy, as it provides the individual with context for how they are feeling and acting, therefore eliminating any shame or judgment that is so commonly present with this diagnosis. Unfortunately, there is a pervasive belief that people are entirely in control of their thoughts, emotions and actions which for someone with bipolar disorder can be a devastating concept because they find themselves flipping between dangerous and extreme periods of mania, and extremely low depressions. Psychoeducation for the individual and their loved ones helps increase understanding about the disorder and it’s impact on the brain and functioning of a person with the disorder. From a place of accurate information and non-judgment treatment can begin and will be more effective.  

Interpersonal Therapy

Interpersonal therapy (IPT) is an effective component of bipolar disorder therapy, as it has been proven effective to reduce added stressors that can come from relationships, and strengthen social support. Depression for example is often connected to an interpersonal experience whether that is conflict, loneliness, rejection or grief. IPT aims to adjust the way an individual responds to these disruptive life events so they can maintain a stable mental health and social connections. 

Interpersonal and Social Rhythm Therapy (IPSRT) is an add on to Interpersonal therapy aimed more specifically at regulating the individual’s schedule and routines, both socially and personally. This in turn will reduce stress, regulate sleep and increase medication compliance for someone diagnosed with bipolar disorder, all of which are desirable outcomes to regulate mood and decrease risk of mania.  

Family Focused Therapy for Bipolar Disorder

Family Focused Therapy (FFT) is a central component of effective bipolar disorder therapy for any individual, adult or adolescent, who is supported by family. The aim is to provide psychoeducation for both the individual and the family on bipolar disorder and it’s impact, teach effective communication skills, and assist with problem solving strategies when conflict arises. 

Medications for Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder is commonly treated with a combination of therapy and medication for best results. Medication should be prescribed by a trusted and experienced medical professional, and aims to stabilize mood right away so the individual can find some relief from symptoms and participate fully in therapy. Common medications to treat bipolar disorder include mood stabilizers, antidepressants and antipsychotics. These medications can be prescribes in combination with one another depending on the severity of symptoms and how the individual responds to each medication. 

if you’re looking for a Bipolar Disorder therapist in chicago, Cityscape counseling would love to work with you.

We know that seeking out therapy can be a daunting endeavor so we’re dedicated to helping you each step of the way. Start by calling or emailing us to set up your first appointment.