Bipolar Disorder 2: Treatment options after diagnosis
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Clinically Reviewed 
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Bipolar disorder is a mental health condition that affects your mood and can cause significant shifts that can disrupt your daily life. There are two main types: bipolar I and bipolar 2. Bipolar 2 is different from bipolar 1 because it is not characterized by full-blown mania episodes. Instead of experiencing soaring manic highs, bipolar 2 features extended stretches of feeling low and discouraged. These periods are broken up by periods of feeling unusually energetic or irritable. These cycles can have an impact on your relationships, work and overall well-being. If you have recently been diagnosed with bipolar 2, you’re not alone. Bipolar disorder is a common condition that affects approximately 40 million people globally. 

Bipolar 2 disrupts the four core processes that contribute to your overall mental health. These four processes and how they’re affected include:

  • Emotional regulation — Bipolar 2 can make it hard to manage your emotions. This can lead to feelings of sadness, depression and irritability. You may find yourself easily overwhelmed or tearful.
  • Thought processing — Negative thoughts can become dominant and make it hard for you to see the positive side of things. You may dwell on mistakes or have a hard time making decisions.
  • Behavioral activation — Bipolar 2 can make it hard for you to do activities you used to enjoy. Social interactions can be draining. Even taking care of yourself can become a challenge.
  • Relationship effectiveness — Changes in your mood can strain your relationships with friends and family. You may withdraw socially or have a hard time expressing yourself clearly.

Receiving a bipolar 2 diagnosis may feel overwhelming, but it doesn’t mean your life is over. It can take some trial and error to find the right treatment, but an effective treatment plan can help ease the severity of your symptoms and the effect they have on your life. 

Finding the right treatment options

A variety of effective treatment options are available for bipolar 2. Your specific treatment plan will depend on your unique needs and the severity of your symptoms. The most effective approach may involve a combination of strategies. Different treatment types for bipolar 2 include:

  • Medications — Your doctor or mental health provider may prescribe different types and doses of medication based on your particular symptoms. Common medication types are:
  • Mood stabilizers
  • Antidepressants
  • Antipsychotics
  • Antidepressant-antipsychotics
  • Psychotherapy — Therapy can be an important part of treatment for bipolar 2. Your therapist can provide you with a safe space to discuss feelings, thoughts and behaviors that are causing you problems. Using evidence-based techniques, they can help you understand and work to overcome problems that are hindering your ability to function well in your life. Common types of psychotherapy for bipolar 2 include:
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
  • Interpersonal and social rhythm therapy (IPSRT)
  • Family-focused therapy (FFT) 
  • Dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT)
  • Lifestyle changes — While therapy and medication are the most effective treatments for management, adopting healthy lifestyle habits can also play a role in helping you manage your symptoms. Getting enough sleep, eating a healthy, balanced diet, and regularly exercising can be beneficial for your overall well-being. It can also make a significant difference to build a strong support system around you. 

A multidimensional and personalized approach to bipolar 2 

While there are a variety of evidence-based techniques that can help manage bipolar 2, at Lightfully, we have pioneered the use of process-based therapy (PBT). PBT can go beyond just treating the symptoms and help address the underlying roots of your mood shifts to provide you with whole-person-centered care. Unlike some therapies that focus on one area, PBT takes a holistic approach to help address the four core processes essential for balanced mental health:

  • Understanding emotions — PBT can help you identify situations, thoughts or experiences that trigger your emotional dysregulation and can lead to depression or irritability. By recognizing these triggers, you can start to anticipate them and develop healthy coping mechanisms to manage your emotions effectively. Your therapist can help you learn healthy coping skills like deep breathing exercises, mindfulness practices or progressive muscle relaxation. 
  • Challenging negative thoughts — Bipolar 2 can fuel negative thought patterns that can lead to depressive episodes. Your therapist can use PBT to help you identify these negative thoughts like catastrophizing, all-or-nothing thinking, or blaming yourself excessively. Once these negative thought patterns are identified, your therapist can help you challenge them and develop more balanced and realistic beliefs about yourself and situations. This shift in thinking can help significantly improve your mood and overall outlook. 
  • Building healthy behaviors — Bipolar 2 can wreak havoc on your motivation and cause you to stop doing your favorite activities. Your therapist can help you understand this cycle and how it impacts your mood. They can help you create a personalized schedule that promotes healthy sleep patterns, regular exercise and engaging activities. Sticking to this routine can provide you with a sense of structure and stability and promote emotional well-being. 
  • Strengthening relationships — Mood swings in bipolar 2 can place a strain on your relationships with friends and family. Your therapist can help you develop healthy communication skills to express your needs clearly and build stronger connections. You can also develop strategies to navigate conflict situations in a more balanced and assertive way, promoting healthier relationships with loved ones. 

With the help of one of our licensed clinical experts, you can become empowered to manage your bipolar 2 more effectively. You can gain the skills to regulate your emotions, challenge negative thinking, engage in healthy behaviors and build strong relationships. PBT’s holistic approach can help you improve your quality of life and help you navigate the challenges living with bipolar 2 present. With greater resilience and self-compassion, you can live a life filled with hope, connection and a renewed sense of well-being. 

Change is possible. When you’re ready to take the first step, contact us. We’ll take the next steps together, toward the fullest, brightest version of you.

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