5 Things to Look for in the Best Treatment Centers for Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder is a serious mental illness that causes rapid, often unpredictable shifts in mood from one extreme to the other. These include episodes of depression and periods of mania. The cycling of extreme moods is damaging and disruptive to normal functioning. This is a chronic illness that requires lifelong management. The best way to get started is with intensive treatment in a residential facility. But not all treatment centers are the same. Know what to look for and how to choose the best facility for you or a loved one struggling with bipolar disorder.

When you are looking for treatment for a serious mental illness like bipolar disorder, it is important to carefully consider your options. Not all treatment facilities are the same, and some are much better than others. Although getting treatment quickly may be important, it is also essential that you don’t waste your time and money on a facility that won’t provide effective care.

Take some time to research treatment centers and visit them before you commit. Talk with the staff and get all your questions answered so you feel good about the choice. Some of the most important considerations when looking for treatment for bipolar disorder are expert and caring staff, an accurate diagnosis, individualized plans for care, and a focus on therapy and overall wellness.

1. An Accurate and Differential Diagnosis

Even if you or a loved one already has a diagnosis of bipolar disorder, any new treatment plan at a residential center should begin with a complete evaluation for mental illness and substance use disorder. Treatment can only be as effective as possible when all mental health issues are recognized and addressed. This can’t be done until you receive a complete diagnosis that is accurate.

The best treatment centers will have an expert team in place for evaluation and to make a differential diagnosis for bipolar disorder. This refers to an evaluation to determine which condition or conditions most accurately explain the symptoms. Bipolar disorder can co-occur with or be misdiagnosed as anxiety disorders, dissociative personality disorder, substance use disorder, schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, or even medical conditions like head trauma or Lyme disease.

2. An Individualized Treatment Plan

No mental illness can be easily or simply cured. There is no single course of treatment or medication that works for everyone. Everyone is different, and each person with bipolar disorder experiences it and responds to symptoms and treatment types in unique ways.

This means that having a treatment plan that includes multiple elements and that take into account an individual’s needs, abilities, and limitations is essential for effectiveness. Never settle for a treatment center that has a one-size-fits-all plan for treating bipolar disorder.

Even with medical treatment, there are many different options for drugs that can help manage symptoms. You may need to try a few medications before you find one that helps the most with the fewest side effects. And, types of therapy will also work differently for each patient. You may benefit more from family therapy, for instance, than one-on-one behavioral therapy.

3. Expert and Multi-Disciplinary Staff

Bipolar disorder is a complex mental illness that had the potential to cause or contribute to a number of serious complications. There are also different types of bipolar disorder and associated conditions like anxiety disorders and trauma disorders. To get the best care and outcomes from treatment, you need a staff of mental health professionals with expertise in bipolar disorder.

Also important for good care is a multi-disciplinary team. The best treatment centers for bipolar disorder have staff members with a wide range of areas of expertise to help patients. Even among the therapists, arguably the most crucial members of the staff, there should be experts in behavioral therapies, family and relational therapy, trauma-focused therapies, and other sub-types.

You should also find that your treatment center staffs medical personnel, including at least one physician or psychiatrist, along with nurses and other healthcare workers. Look for staff members who specialize in holistic care, alternative therapies, diet and nutrition, and other types of wellness that are crucial to recovery.

4. A Variety of Psychosocial Therapies

Medical treatment is an important part of recovery for many people with bipolar disorder. Mood stabilizers, antipsychotics, antidepressants, and other types of drugs can be very helpful in managing moods and symptoms. But medicines alone are not enough to help patients learn to manage this chronic condition long term.

Effective treatment facilities offer a variety of therapies as the cornerstone of care. Studies have shown that bipolar patients who receive intensive psychotherapy have better outcomes after treatment. The types of therapy that have proven effective include family therapy, interpersonal and social rhythm therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, and both individual and family psychoeducation. For the best results from treatment, it is essential to choose a center that will provide this range of therapy types.

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5. Focused Attention on Health, Wellness, and Holistic Care

Therapy and medications are considered essential for most people in the treatment of bipolar disorder. However, there are also many supportive therapies and treatment types that provide additional benefits. When choosing a treatment center, look for one that offers these other types of care that will promote overall wellness.

Holistic wellness is the idea that all areas of a person’s life and health are interconnected and need to be addressed and promoted for optional health. The best treatment centers for mental illness will include things like alternative medicine, alternative therapies, nutrition and diet, exercise, mindfulness training, social skills and relationship training, and even recreation and fun.

All of these things together with traditional treatment provide the best care and the best long-term outcomes for patients with bipolar disorder. It is these so-called secondary treatments that will help you learn to take better care of yourself and to be able to better cope with bipolar moods and symptoms after you leave treatment.

No one treatment plan is right for everyone. As you look into options for your own care or as you help a loved one get treatment, keep this in mind. What you need more than anything is a treatment facility staffed by caring experts willing to work with you as an individual. The care you receive now will help you for years to come as you learn to live with this illness, so take a little time to make the best choice.

If you’re concerned about a loved one and believe they may need residential care, we can help. BrightQuest offers long-term treatment for people struggling with complex mental health illnesses and co-occurring disorders. Contact us to learn more about our renowned program and how we can help you or your loved one start the journey toward recovery.