Bipolar Disorder Treatment in San Diego

Understanding Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder is a mood disorder that can cause unusual shifts in energy, mood, and activity levels which can last up to several weeks. Individuals may experience prolonged episodes of low mood (major depression) and abnormally elevated mood (mania). These episodes can affect all areas of a person’s life including behaviors, relationships, emotions, thoughts, and day-to-day functioning. While it is a lifelong mental health disorder, bipolar disorder treatment in San Diego can help individuals manage their symptoms and live happier, more stable life.

Alternating mood patterns may vary widely from person to person. Some people may experience years of normal functioning between manic and depressive episodes. Others may face several episode cycles within a year with periods of normalcy between or have continuous cycles. Generally, the depressive phase lasts longer than the manic phase and is more frequent.

The disorder is categorized into two primary forms: bipolar I and bipolar II. The main difference between the two is the severity of manic episodes. A person with bipolar I will experience more severe manic episodes, while bipolar II causes mild to moderate manic episodes. Bipolar II is the more common form but is harder to diagnose as it may be mistaken for unipolar or major depressive disorder. Bipolar disorder is also linked to seasonal affective disorder, which can lead to depressive episodes in the late fall or winter, followed by remission in the spring, and progression to mania in the summer.

Getting bipolar disorder treatment in San Diego early on can reduce the risk of future episodes and improve recovery outcomes. San Diego mental health services can help manage bipolar symptoms through therapy, medication, and alternative treatments. Episodes can be severe enough to lead to a mental health crisis that requires immediate professional intervention. Alter Mental Health bipolar treatment is available for short-term, intensive care in times of crisis.

Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder

bipolar disorder treatment in san diego

Every person will experience bipolar symptoms differently. Manic and depressive episodes can range in severity between people and even within the person each time. They do not always follow a set pattern.  Some may experience episodes for several months or years, while others experience them at the same time or in quick succession.

Manic Episode Signs and Symptoms

Individuals with bipolar disorder will have episodes of mania or hypomania many times throughout their life, while others may only experience them on rare occasions. Signs and symptoms of a manic episode include:

  • Sudden and severe mood changes, such as going from being joyful to angry and hostile.
  • Rapid speech and racing thoughts.
  • Excessive happiness, excitement, and hopefulness.
  • Restlessness.
  • Making grand and unattainable plans.
  • Increased energy.
  • Less need for sleep or not sleeping.
  • Feelings of grand importance, talent, or power.
  • Impulsivity and poor judgment, such as suddenly quitting a job.
  • Reckless, risk-taking behavior, including drug and alcohol misuse.
  • Psychosis, including hallucinations and delusions (most severe manic episodes).

Hypomania symptoms are milder manic-like symptoms. People with hypomania may feel very good and find they can get a lot done. They can function well in social situations and at work and not feel like anything is wrong. After hypomania, the person may experience severe depression.

Depressive Episode Signs and Symptoms

Symptoms of depressive episodes are similar to those of major depression, which include:

  • Low energy or fatigue.
  • Overwhelming sadness.
  • Lack of motivation.
  • Loss of interest in activities once enjoyed.
  • Difficulty concentrating or making decisions.
  • Irritability.
  • Increased need for sleep.
  • Insomnia or excessive sleep.
  • Feelings of worthlessness or hopelessness.
  • Uncontrollable crying.
  • Changes in appetite, either eating too much or too little.
  • Thoughts of death or suicide.

Mixed episodes of bipolar disorder include both manic and depressive symptoms together. Individuals with mixed episodes describe it as the worst part of the disorder and may experience negative feelings or thoughts that come with depression but also feel restless, agitated, and with high energy.

Diagnosing Bipolar Disorder in San Diego

Talking to a doctor or mental health specialist in San Diego is the first step toward a bipolar disorder diagnosis. There are no specific blood tests or brain scans for diagnosing bipolar disorder. In some cases, bipolar disorder may be difficult to diagnose as it can resemble unipolar or major depressive disorder. While bipolar disorder symptoms are distinct, there is no single test to confirm the condition. Doctors will often use a combination of methods for diagnosing bipolar disorder, which include:

  • Physical exam.
  • Thorough medical history, including asking about symptoms, experiences, and family history.
  • Medical tests, including blood tests to rule out other conditions that may be causing symptoms, such as hyperthyroidism.
  • Mental health evaluation.

According to the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), to be diagnosed with bipolar disorder a person must have experienced at least one episode of mania or hypomania. To determine which type of bipolar disorder the person may have, a mental health specialist will assess the pattern of symptoms and how much they have affected daily life.

Bipolar Disorder Treatment Options in San Diego

Bipolar disorder is a chronic mental health disorder that requires professional intervention to successfully manage. Because it affects each person differently, there are several options for bipolar disorder treatment in San Diego to fit each person’s needs and to find a treatment plan that works best for them. The best course of treatment is usually a combination of behavioral health therapy and medication management.

Therapy options for bipolar disorder may include psychotherapy, various forms of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), and group therapy. Medications commonly prescribed include anticonvulsants, lithium, antidepressants, and second-generation antipsychotics (SGAs). Individuals can choose outpatient treatment options through a mental health specialist if symptoms are mild and are not a danger to themselves or others.

If bipolar manic or depressive episodes are severe, they may require immediate, emergency mental health treatment. Often, manic episodes can cause individuals to be unaware of the negative consequences of their actions, which may cause the risk of harming themselves or others. Severe manic episodes can also cause hallucinations or delusions, which need hospitalization. Depressive episodes can lead individuals to not being able to take care of themselves, experience a catatonic state, or to suicidal tendencies. Mental health crises such as these need intensive, inpatient cares with around-the-clock monitoring.

Bipolar Disorder Treatment Types in San Diego

Alter Mental Health in San Diego offers an alternative to inpatient hospitalization for bipolar disorder. We offer 24-hour monitoring and treatment from a team of mental health specialists, physicians, and nurses to ensure safety and begin the recovery process. Our programs are whole-person wellness-oriented, meaning we go beyond treating the symptoms to understand and treat all areas of a person’s life related to their bipolar disorder. Programs are personalized for each client to address their unique needs and provide referrals for ongoing, long-term treatment. Some treatment types that may be included in your bipolar disorder treatment in San Diego include:

Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT)

Cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) is one of the most widely used therapies for bipolar disorder. It is used to treat bipolar disorder by reducing overall distress and decreasing manic or depressive episodes. Individuals can learn how to be aware and manage their moods, physical sensations, and emotions. CBT works by identifying thoughts and behaviors which contribute to emotional distress followed by learning how to challenge those thoughts, replacing them with more positive ones.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)

DBT is a form of cognitive behavior therapy that targets emotional dysregulation. Individuals with bipolar disorder can benefit from DBT as it increases distress tolerance, emotional regulation, and mindfulness. A therapist will use DBT techniques to provide clients with tools and strategies that allow them to better regulate their emotions, reducing manic or depressive episodes. At Alter Mental Health, therapists will use various therapy techniques such as DBT to find what works best for managing your bipolar disorder.

Solution Focused Therapy (SFT)

Solution-focused therapy (SFT) is a goal-oriented therapy that aims to help clients focus on what needs to change in order to live a more peaceful, happy life. Instead of focusing on the problem, SFT will use forward-thinking methods of improving one’s life. A therapist will help the client discover the solutions to their problems from within, including their skills, strengths, and abilities already possessed rather than developing them.

Motivational Interviewing (MI)

Our therapists at Alter Mental Health will use motivational interviewing (MI) in personalized plans for bipolar disorder treatment in San Diego. This form of therapy aims to help clients find their motivation to create changes in their lives and empower them to make those changes. One of the greatest benefits of MI is that it meets clients where they are in their mental health recovery process, helping to resolve ambivalent feelings and insecurities. It can help bipolar disorder clients adhere to long-term treatment plans and make the necessary lifestyle changes.

Psychoeducational and Process Groups

Alter Mental Health incorporates psychoeducational and process groups as part of our family and community support. Part of whole-person wellness includes having social support systems, which can be made during group therapy sessions. We help match clients with similar mental health disorders so they can participate in educational groups about their disorder to better understand the disorder and how to manage it. Clients can also heal together and provide mutual support.

Holistic Practices

Holistic therapies may also be useful in supporting conventional treatment methods by teaching mindfulness, stress reduction techniques, and overall wellness. Our whole-person wellness approach at Alter Mental Health will include various holistic practices to heal the body, mind, and spirit, including nutrition and physical exercise. Maintaining physical health through exercise and nutrition can help stabilize neurotransmitters in the brain responsible for mental health and lead to the development of healthy self-care techniques.

Why Choose Alter Mental Health for Bipolar Disorder Treatment in San Diego?

Alter Mental Health offers a more comfortable and private alternative to inpatient hospitalization during times of crisis. Crisis stabilization units are short-term stays in a small inpatient facility designed for individuals to admit voluntarily they need a secure, structured environment to regain control of their mental health. Our clinical staff has the experience and knowledge to properly diagnose bipolar disorder and other mental health disorders through proper assessments and testing. We will provide personalized treatment plans around holistic, evidence-based therapies to help anyone struggling with bipolar disorder gain the proper foundation for long-term management. Clients will receive a discharge plan with referrals and resources to continue working on their recovery as they return home.

If you or someone you know is struggling with bipolar disorder or experiencing a severe episode, please call our 24-hour helpline at 866-986-1481 to talk to an assessment counselor and begin the admissions process as soon as possible.