Outpatient Bipolar Treatment

outpatient bipolar treatmentOutpatient bipolar treatment programs that offer everything your loved one needs to learn how to mitigate and manage the symptoms of the disorder are their best defense. Family members, too, can benefit from getting involved in their loved one’s bipolar treatment program from the start. What does your loved one need to succeed in their outpatient treatment program? Medication, psychotherapy, diverse treatment options, and you.


Depending upon the symptoms that are most problematic for your family member, different types of medication may be more or less successful in treatment. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), some of the most commonly prescribed medications in the treatment of bipolar disorder include:

  • Mood-stabilizing medications. These are often the first line of defense when bipolar disorder is diagnosed. Also called anticonvulsants, they are effective in smoothing out the extreme moods and associated erratic behavior that many bipolar disorder patients experience. Some common examples include:
    • Lithium
    • Depakote
    • Lamictal
    • Neurontin
    • Topamax
    • Trileptal
  • Atypical antipsychotic medications. Different from older versions, or “conventional” antipsychotic medications, these medications are often taken in combination with other drugs, like mood-stabilizing medications to address specific symptoms experienced by the patient. Common medications include:
    • Zyprexa
    • Abilify
    • Seroquel
    • Risperdal
    • Geodon
  • Antidepressant medications. Many bipolar patients struggle with depression, and it can be helpful to take medications that directly address that symptom. In many cases, this type of medication is taken in combination with mood stabilizers. Some common antidepressants prescribed in these cases include:
    • Prozac
    • Paxil
    • Zoloft
    • Wellbutrin

Psychotherapeutic Treatment

In combination with medication, psychotherapeutic treatment can be highly effective in helping bipolar patients to address stressors in their life, learn how to manage symptoms as they arise, and work with other family members to build a strong support system in their recovery. Common types of therapy that have been proven to be effective in the treatment of bipolar disorder include:

  • Interpersonal therapy. Working on relationships and establishing regular routines that enhance daily functioning and interactions.
  • Family therapy. Addressing interpersonal issues at home and helping both family members and the patient to learn how to function more healthfully.
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Addressing thought patterns or perspectives that may be making life more difficult for the patient.
  • Psychoeducation. Effective for both the patient and others in the family, this can be useful in gaining a better understanding of bipolar disorder and its treatment as well as learning how to identify episodes early.

Other Bipolar Disorder Treatment Options

Depending upon the circumstances (e.g., the symptoms experienced by the patient and the efficacy of medication and therapy), it may be a good idea to augment outpatient bipolar treatment with other treatment options. Possibilities include:

  • Herbal supplements. No herbs are FDA-approved in the treatment of bipolar disorder but some vitamin and/or herbal supplements may be helpful in overall health and wellness.
  • Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT). A non-invasive therapy, ECT may be effective in patients who cannot take medication (e.g., pregnant patients) and in those who do not progress in treatment despite other types of intervention.
  • Sleep medication. Non-addictive sleep medication may be an effective choice for bipolar patients who suffer from insomnia and find that sleep deprivation exacerbates their symptoms.

Help Your Family Member Begin the Healing Process Today

Family members can be crucial to the success of patients in outpatient bipolar treatment. Your first step in assisting your bipolar family member can be to help them find a treatment program that can give them what they need to begin the healing process. Call now to get started.