Bipolar disorder is a lifelong mental health condition that affects approximately 2.8% of U.S. adults every year. And according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, approximately 83% of those cases are considered “severe.” But with the right combination of medication and psychotherapy, even severe cases are treatable. While residential treatment is sometimes necessary, outpatient treatment for bipolar disorder is also an effective option in many cases.  


What is bipolar disorder? 

Bipolar disorder is a mental illness that causes extreme mood shifts that can seriously disrupt a person’s ability to function in everyday life. Symptoms of bipolar disorder vary in type and severity, but generally, they include periods of mania and periods of depression, either of which can last for weeks or even months. During manic episodes, the individual may feel high and optimistic or extremely irritable. They may talk rapidly, act recklessly, and be unable to concentrate.  

During the depressive episodes, they may feel hopeless, sluggish, and unable to experience pleasure.  While most people with bipolar disorder experience clear and distinct episodes of either mania or depression, some experience “mixed episodes” that have features of both. The rollercoaster of moods associated with bipolar disorder can feel overwhelming and endless. Left untreated, the consequences can be damaging. Fortunately, bipolar disorder treatment is readily available.


Outpatient treatment for bipolar disorder

Bipolar disorder treatment is highly individualized. In some cases, residential treatment is necessary to help the patient achieve stability and learn to manage their symptoms. But if the person has the ability to function independently, outpatient treatment for bipolar disorder can provide support, structure, and therapeutic benefits while they continue to live at home.  


The two main components of most effective bipolar disorder treatment programs are medication and psychotherapy.  Common medications include: 

  • Mood stabilizers to treat manic and hypomanic symptoms
  • Antidepressants to treat depressive episodes
  • Antipsychotics to control hallucinations, delusions, and other psychotic symptoms 


While medication helps to manage symptoms, psychotherapy helps to manage daily life with bipolar disorder. Depending on the individual’s needs, psychotherapy may involve identifying triggers, coping with day-to-day challenges, and practicing healthy communication skills.  Common psychotherapies for bipolar disorder include: 

  • Talk therapy
  • Cognitive behavior therapy
  • Family therapy


Outpatient treatment options for bipolar disorder range from more restrictive to more flexible, depending on the individual’s needs, symptoms, and level of independence. These include: 

  • Partial hospitalization (PHP) – Involves structured programming 8 hours a day, 5 days a week. 
  • Intensive outpatient (IOP) – Involves more flexible programming, usually 3 hours a day, 3 to 4 days a week. 
  • Therapy appointments – Depending on the individual, these may take place weekly or a few times a week and may include life skills training, substance abuse recovery, or other support services. 


In addition to providing therapeutic support and symptom management, outpatient bipolar disorder treatment also allows the individual to live comfortably at home and to maintain work, school, or family commitments. Additionally, outpatient treatment provides the opportunity to practice newly learned skills and strategies in everyday situations.  

Although there is no cure for bipolar disorder, with proper treatment, it is possible to live a healthy, productive, and enjoyable life. 


Outpatient bipolar disorder treatment at Pacific Health Systems in San Diego

At Pacific Health Systems, we offer outpatient services for a number of mental health conditions, including bipolar disorder. Our providers are compassionate and skilled specialists  committed to providing the highest level of care to help our patients manage their symptoms, overcome their challenges, and optimize their mental health. For more information on our services for outpatient bipolar disorder treatment in San Diego, please contact us at 619-267-9257 today.