Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) is designed to help individuals manage emotional regulation difficulties. Bipolar Disorder (BD), formerly “manic depression,” is a recurrent and debilitating condition characterized by episodes of depression and mania, leading to extreme mood swings. Consequently, such individuals often struggle with emotional regulation.
This relationship between BD and emotional regulation issues explains why DBT is frequently recommended for people diagnosed with BD. As a form of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, DBT aids individuals in identifying negative thought patterns to foster positive behaviours.
Understanding Bipolar Disorder
Bipolar disorder is a chronic mental health condition marked by extreme mood swings that usually start in one’s teenage or early adult years but can occur at any age. The symptoms and their severity vary widely among individuals.
A significant aspect of bipolar disorder is that those affected are often unaware of their extreme behaviour’s intensity. They may perceive others as overreacting or persecuting them, underscoring the importance of identifying negative thought patterns using DBT.
DBT’s Four Core Skills and Bipolar Disorder
For this discussion, let’s primarily focus on the four core skills training in DBT:
- Distress tolerance
- Emotional regulation
- Interpersonal effectiveness
Let’s delve into how each skill can benefit individuals struggling with bipolar disorder:
Mindfulness: This skill encourages us to remain in the present moment, promoting emotional regulation without dwelling on the past or fearing the future. Through mindfulness, individuals can effectively identify emotions and associated behaviours and thoughts, making it easier to manage mood fluctuations.
Distress Tolerance: Given that BD often leads to high levels of distress, learning to cope with this distress significantly bolsters emotional regulation efforts; it reduces susceptibility to impulsive actions and fosters a better understanding of others’ perceptions during interactions.
Emotional Regulation: Seeking balance is crucial—you need to validate your feelings while preventing emotions from escalating into dysfunction simultaneously. But how do you discern which emotions genuinely reflect your mental state? Here’s where DBT is an effective tool for achieving this vital equilibrium.
Interpersonal Effectiveness: Bipolar disorder can strain relationships—friendships, familial ties, professional connections, neighbourly relations or romantic partnerships. As you strive towards mindfulness and better distress tolerance while regulating negative emotions, it’s time to apply these skills effectively in your interpersonal life. Interpersonal effectiveness skills not only mitigate the potential damage caused by BD but also empower you to mend already strained relationships.
Starting Your Journey
Bipolar disorder cannot be addressed solely through self-care; professional intervention and support from trained mental health specialists are essential for effective treatment and management- although there’s no cure yet for BD. I understand you might have questions—perhaps many—and initiating such a dialogue forms an excellent starting point.
Consider revisiting the four core skills mentioned above if you seek this change in your life—it might just be what you need! Let’s discuss this further during a free, confidential consultation for DBT therapy