Bipolar? Predicting and managing mood swings

“Bipolar disorder meds are hell, and nothing but a crap shoot if you ask me. There’s gotta’ be some kind of psychotherapy I can turn to for relief.”

The disturbing and baffling mood swings of bipolar disorder are most often approached – and treated – from a biological perspective. So forget about securing relief through thought and behavior management. Right?

Well, not exactly…

A Brand New Study

A team of psychologists from the Universities of Manchester and Lancaster (UK) have completed some very interesting and encouraging work. It was published in the April 19, 2011 edition of the journal Psychological Assessment.

It seems the UK brain trust have determined that the mood swings of bipolar disorder can be predicted. That’s front page news, if you ask me.

But the lead headline is this – the predictions are in fact grounded in how one thinks and behaves in the immediate.

Hmmm. So if that’s the case, that means treatments such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can very nicely augment – and in some cases replace – the meds attack.

According to study lead Dr. Warren Mansell from the University of Manchester’s School of Psychological Sciences…

“Individuals who believed extreme things about their moods — for example that their moods were completely out of their own control or that they had to keep active all the time to prevent becoming a failure — developed more mood problems in a month’s time.”

“In contrast, people with bipolar disorder who could let their moods pass as a normal reaction to stress or knew they could manage their mood, faired well a month later. These findings are encouraging for talking therapies — such as CBT — that aim to help patients to talk about their moods and change their thinking about them.”

TEAMS (Think Effectively About Mood Swings)
Enter a new form of CBT – TEAMS (Think Effectively About Mood Swings). It’s being developed right now by Mansell and his colleagues. And its mission is simple – to improve upon previous therapies by focusing on current problems (depression, anxiety, irritability, etc.) – and helping clients set goals for their life as a whole.

What’s key here is encouraging those enduring bipolar disorder to accept and manage an overlay of normal emotions – joy, anger, fear, etc.

The research team will use the developing TEAMS approach to follow up their current findings with a larger study that identifies who relapses and who heads towards recovery in the long term.

And that means there’s much more to come in terms of results and reporting.

Let’s Wrap

I don’t endure bipolar disorder, so I don’t experience upsetting mood swings. And I don’t have to rely upon a meds regimen to get through life.

But I’ve had to learn and practice life management. And that means working hard with my thoughts and behaviors.

So for those of you who endure mood swings and bipolar disorder – a well researched meds-free approach to treatment is coming. And chipur will keep you updated.

To catch all chipur articles on the psychology of depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder click here.