Using DBT to Manage the Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder

Using DBT to Manage the Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder

If you are one of the millions of people who suffer from bipolar disorder, you know how difficult it can be to manage your symptoms. The good news is that there are treatments available that can help make life a little easier. Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) is one such treatment that has been shown to be effective in managing bipolar disorder. In this blog post, we will discuss what DBT is and how DBT for bipolar works.

What Is DBT?

DBT (Dialectical Behavior Therapy) is a cognitive-behavioral treatment developed by Dr. Marsha Linehan at the University of Washington to help people cope with emotional and behavioral challenges. DBT skills are based on Eastern philosophies such as mindfulness, non-judgment, and acceptance. Yet it is adapted for Western culture in order to be more accessible to many people.

This type of therapy is rooted in understanding the dialectic nature of life, which states that two seemingly opposite ideas can be true at once. For example, a person may experience both happiness and sadness. Through learning DBT skills, individuals learn how to balance these opposing forces within themselves to support overall well-being.

Is DBT Only For Borderline?

No, DBT is not only for people with borderline personality disorder. It can be used to help people who are struggling with a variety of mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, substance abuse, and eating disorders. This form of therapy has also been found to be effective in helping those with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).

Recently, DBT for bipolar is being studied and used to help those living with this illness. Bipolar disorder can be difficult to diagnose and manage. But DBT has been found to provide stability for individuals going through the highs and lows of this mental health condition.

It works for bipolar disorder by teaching skills that help individuals cope with and manage their symptoms, as well as develop self-regulation strategies. These skills also help individuals become more aware of themselves and their emotions. So they can take better control of their moods and behaviors.

What Techniques Are Used In DBT For Bipolar?

What Techniques Are Used In DBT For Bipolar?If you are going further into treatment for bipolar disorder with Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), you will want to know what techniques are largely used. Here are some of the primary techniques used in DBT for bipolar disorder:

1. Mindfulness – Mindfulness techniques are an essential component of DBT as they help you become aware of your thoughts and feelings. Then, improve your ability to stay present in the moment. This can help reduce distress, regulate emotions, and provide perspective on things that felt out of control.

2. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) – CBT helps to recognize negative thought patterns and behaviors, challenge them and replace them with healthier ones. This technique can help you identify triggers that may lead to episodes of mania or depression, helping you become more aware of how your behavior contributes to the disorder.

3. Interpersonal Effectiveness – Interpersonal effectiveness skills are used to help individuals communicate better, build relationships and maintain healthy boundaries with others. This can be especially helpful with bipolar disorder since it is a disorder that can impact your relationships significantly.

4. Distress Tolerance – Distress tolerance helps you learn how to cope with difficult feelings without resorting to unhealthy behaviors. It also helps you accept things as they are and teaches you how to be more resilient during times of distress.

These techniques can provide a solid foundation for managing bipolar disorder and help individuals learn healthier ways of thinking, feeling, and behaving. With all the moods, thoughts, and behaviors associated with the disorder, it’s important to have the right tools and strategies in place. DBT is a valuable approach that can be highly effective for managing bipolar disorder.

What To Expect With DBT Sessions For Bipolar?

What To Expect With DBT Sessions For Bipolar?DBT sessions for bipolar disorder involve a variety of evidence-based strategies and skills to help manage moods and symptoms. During the session, a therapist will evaluate the individual’s current symptoms, social and family history, medical history, lifestyle habits, and any other relevant information. Then they will create an individualized treatment plan tailored to the patient’s specific needs.

The main focus of DBT is on building self-awareness and understanding of one’s own emotions and behaviors. Patients learn how to identify their triggers, manage intense emotions, better tolerate distress, develop healthy coping skills, and communicate constructively with loved ones.

DBT also emphasizes changing patterns of thought to better cope with stressors. With the help of a skilled therapist, patients can learn new ways of thinking and reacting to situations that can help manage their symptoms.

So, the process is a bit like learning to drive – first you understand the theory and then practice it in real life. In the same way, patients learn skills through lectures, exercises, role-playing, and worksheets during their sessions. Then they are expected to apply them in their daily lives to help manage their symptoms.

What Are The Benefits Of DBT For Bipolar?

Many people with bipolar disorder benefit from DBT. The following are the most common benefits:

1. Improved Emotional Regulation: DBT helps individuals learn and practice skills to better regulate their emotions, which can reduce mood swings and symptoms of bipolar disorder. This improved emotional regulation also helps individuals manage difficult situations more effectively.

2. Increased Self-Awareness: One of the core objectives of DBT is to promote self-awareness. This helps individuals become more mindful of their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors and how they are impacting themselves and those around them.

3. Improved Interpersonal Skills: DBT also focuses on interpersonal skills, such as communication strategies and healthy relationship building. These skills can help individuals establish meaningful relationships that provide support during difficult times.

4. Reduced Impulsivity: DBT teaches strategies to reduce impulsive behaviors that often characterize those with bipolar disorder, such as poor decision-making and high-risk behavior.

5. Improved Quality of Life: Ultimately, the combination of these skills can lead to improved quality of life, better relationships, and increased self-confidence.

DBT is an effective treatment for people with bipolar disorder and can help them find stability, manage their symptoms more effectively, and live a better life. It may also be beneficial to seek out other forms of therapy or support as well to supplement DBT.

What Therapy Approach Is Best For Bipolar Disorder?

Though DBT is often the preferred therapy for bipolar disorder, it is not the only approach. Other evidence-based therapies to consider include:

  1. Cognitive behavioral therapy: CBT is a type of psychotherapy that focuses on helping the individual recognize, challenge, and modify negative thinking patterns and behaviors. It can help individuals identify triggers that lead to episodes, as well as develop coping strategies for when episodes occur.
  2. Interpersonal Therapy: Interpersonal therapy (IPT) emphasizes interpersonal relationships and communication skills. It can help individuals identify and express their emotions in a healthier way, as well as learn how to better navigate relationships with others.
  3. Family-Focused Therapy: Family-focused therapy (FFT) is a type of therapy that involves family members in the therapeutic process. This approach helps to improve communication between family members, increase understanding of the disorder, and foster healthier relationships.
  4. Group Interventions: Group interventions can provide a supportive environment to help individuals learn new skills and better manage their condition. These interventions may involve psychoeducation, problem-solving, communication skills training, and stress management techniques.

When discussing which type of therapy is best for someone with bipolar disorder, experts suggest that a combination of approaches may be most beneficial. Depending on the individual’s needs, this may involve combining DBT, CBT, IPT, FFT, and group interventions to create a comprehensive treatment plan. Ultimately, the goal is to find an approach that best suits the individual and helps them manage their condition in a healthy way.


In conclusion, DBT for bipolar is often an effective treatment strategy for managing both highs and lows associated with the disorder. It helps individuals to gain insight into their emotions, learn skills to manage triggers, and build healthier relationships. By integrating DBT into comprehensive bipolar treatment plans, many people are able to move forward in recovery. And achieve better overall mental health.

With consistency and dedication to the program, individuals can learn to live with their disorder in a more balanced and successful way. DBT for bipolar can be an important part of a person’s journey to recovery, offering them the skills needed to cope, manage, and thrive.

For more information, please contact MantraCare. Bipolar disorder is a mental illness characterized by extreme shifts in mood, energy, and activity levels. If you have any queries regarding Online Bipolar Disorder Counseling experienced therapists at MantraCare can help: Book a trial Bipolar Disorder therapy session

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