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Someone with bipolar disorder may experience extreme changes in mood. These changes will be more severe and last longer that the everyday ups and downs that many of us experience. Mood can vary from feeling depressed and hopeless, to feeling ‘high’ or irritable (known as hypomania or mania).
People with bipolar disorder may also have unusual experiences during a mood episode, such as hallucinations and delusions. Alongside difficulties with mood, individuals may experience changes in their thoughts, behaviours and day-to-day functioning.
There appears to be no single cause which explains why someone develops bipolar disorder; while men and women are equally likely to be affected. Evidence suggests a role for genetic, biological, clinical factors and life events. Psychological processes are also important, such as thinking style and coping strategies. Typically, it will start with a first episode of depression in late adolescence or early adulthood.
CBT is a structured psychological therapy in which the therapist and client work together on specific problems and set clear goals. A person should expect between 12 to 20 sessions, but the length of treatment depends on the individual presentation.
Homework can often form a large part of CBT as much progress can be accomplished between sessions. Your therapist will be able to advise you on how to continue using CBT techniques in your daily life after your treatment ends.
Some aims of CBT for bipolar disorder are:
Let's Talk About CBT is a podcast about CBT: what it is, what it's not and how it can be useful. Dr Lucy Maddox interviews experts in the field including people who have experienced CBT for themselves. Each episode includes a mix of interviews, myth-busting and explains CBT jargon.
You can download our podcast - CBT for Bipolar Disorder. Links to other resources to help with understanding bipolar disorder can also be found here.
National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guidelines on the assessment and management of bipolar disorder.