For some people, you can treat Bipolar II effectively with the use of psychotherapy along with medication. Various forms of psychotherapy can help you manage Bipolar II symptoms that may not respond adequately to treatment with medications alone.
Bipolar II and Trouble with Medications
Although Bipolar II can be treated effectively with medications in some individuals, this is not always the case. For certain people, such as this writer, higher doses of mood stabilizers can bring moods down too low, actually triggering bouts of depression. Antidepressants can push those with Bipolar II into a hypomanic state, especially if the depression is hard to treat. According to Salynn Boyles in an article for WebMD, taking antidepressants alone is not recommended as effective treatment for Bipolar II.
Although a mood stabilizer may be used alone to treat Bipolar II, antidepressants should only be taken if a mood stabilizer is taken as well. This is why it can be important to find alternative ways to treat Bipolar II effectively with other therapies in addition to lower-level doses of mood stabilizers alone or the use of mood stabilizers with antidepressants.
Psychotherapies as Effective Treatment for Bipolar II in Addition to Medication
The most common forms of psychotherapy that can be helpful to those with Bipolar II include cognitive therapy, behavioral therapy, social rhythm therapy, interpersonal therapy and even light therapy. However, according to PsychEducation.org, light therapy should be used with care as it has similar effects to antidepressants when used alone.
Cognitive therapy is used in those with Bipolar II to help train the individual’s thought process to more effectively deal with the disorder. Behavioral therapy introduces positive lifestyle changes, such as including regular exercise and eating right, in addition to getting rid of negative behaviors such as alcohol and illegal drug use.
Interpersonal therapy helps teach coping skills in dealing effectively in interactions with other people. One of the most effective psychotherapy treatments for Bipolar II is social rhythm therapy. Getting the individual on track with their sleep-wake cycle and into a regular schedule is important to not only control symptoms of Bipolar II, but to help the person notice any changes in emotional levels better.
There are several important aspects of all of these therapies to effectively treat Bipolar II. These include preparing for relapse and being aware of signs that the individual is headed into depression or hypomania, teaching to individual the importance of remaining on medication as a preventative measure, even when moods are stabilized, and dealing with stress and other problems to reduce the affect any trigger could have on mood and possibly lead to a relapse.
Personal Experience with Psychotherapy and Medication
I use medication and psychotherapy to deal with rapid-cycling Bipolar II disorder. An antidepressant and mood stabilizer are used in conjunction with a combination therapy of cognitive therapy and behavioral therapy . Thought processes are my main concern when dealing effectively with Bipolar II. The addition of activities such as writing, poetry and drawing with oil pastels helps to reduce stress and keep my mind occupied to prevent negative thoughts or risk-taking behaviors when in a hypomanic state. Writing and art can also be uplifting to reduce the risk of depression.
I would also like to include social rhythm therapy, as changes in my sleep schedule affect my mood and after smaller bouts of hypomania, ultimately lead to a downward spiral of a fairly severe form of depression.
Susan Boyle, Antidepressants Risky for Bipolar II?, http://www.webmd.com/bipolar-disorder/news/20070315/antidepressants-risky-for-biopolar-disorder
PsychEducation.org, Psychotherapy for Bipolar Disorder, http://www.psycheducation.org/depression/Psychotherapy.htm