Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center - Health Library

Other Treatments for Bipolar Disorder

Pychosocial treatments can also help support and teach you and your family. If it doesn't help, electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is a choice.

Psychosocial Treatments

These treatments can lead to better moods and better daily life. The number, how often, and type of sessions should be based on your needs.

Some of these methods are:

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive behavioral therapy(CBT) helps you learn to change thought patterns and actions that are harmful or wrong. You will look at your feelings and thought patterns, learn to grasp them, and use coping methods.


This involves teaching you about your health problem and how it is treated. You will learn the signs of it coming back so that you can get early care. It may also be helpful for your family to go.

Family Therapy

This uses methods to lower the level of worry within your family due to your health problem.

This is for you and any person in your family who wants to join in. It involves psychoeducation and teaches you better ways to talk to each other and solve problems.

Interpersonal and Social Rhythm Therapy

This helps how you get along with other people. It also helps you set your daily routines. Routines and better sleep patterns may also help.


ECT may be right for you if these methods do not help. It may also be used to treat people who have health issues that make using drugs too unsafe.

ECT is a helpful way to treat symptoms. Memory problems can happen. But the risk has been greatly lowered with modern ECT methods. You should talk with your doctor and friends about how it may help. You should also talk about the risks.

You will be given medicine to help you relax. You will be watched during the ECT. A small amount of electricity will be sent to your brain. You may get more ECT over days, weeks, or months, based on your needs.

You may have these problems from ECT:

  • Headache
  • Muscle pain
  • Heart problems
  • Short-term confusion
  • Memory problems

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Management of bipolar disorder in adults. US Department of Veterans Affairs website. Available at: Published May 2010. Accessed September 26, 2018.

Miklowitz DJ, Scott J. Psychosocial treatments for bipolar disorder: cost effectiveness, mediating mechanisms, and future directions. Bipolar Disord. 2009;11 Suppl 2:110-122.

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Last reviewed September 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Rimas Lukas, MD  Last Updated 9/25/2018