PCH Treatment Center realizes that those suffering from Bipolar Disorder have a lifelong condition with exacerbations and remissions. We also understand that psychosocial factors have a large impact on the well-being of persons who are suffering from Bipolar Disorder. The first step for any client entering PCH Treatment Center is a thorough clinical assessment. We receive many clients who are referred to us with a diagnosis of “Bipolar Disorder or Bipolar 2.” There are a number of psychological problems that can be misdiagnosed as Bipolar Disorder, especially Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and trauma related Personality Issues which may exhibit dysregulation and labile mood states. Once a correct diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder is established by our Clinical Team, a member of the PCH Psychiatry team evaluates the client and prescribes an appropriate mood stabilizer. Mood stabilizers are a class of medications that are effective in leveling out labile mood states. Oftentimes, a new client will be on one or a number of medications that are not required or even appropriate for treatment. Clients may be taking a mood stabilizer (causing side effects), antidepressants (which can sometimes trigger mania), anticonvulsants, antipsychotics, combination drugs, and even benzodiazepines. Medications will be altered to find a regimen that the client feels is optimal while decreasing or eliminating undesirable side effects. PCH Treatment Center has a strong philosophy of appropriate medicating, minimizing medication usage and avoiding addictive substances.
PCH Treatment Center has a large staff of trained and highly experienced clinicians. A client with Bipolar Disorder is assigned to a program director and individual therapist who have specific experience treating mood disorders. We offer groups specific to bipolar disorder, including psycho-education, stress management, and medication and sleep management. We also involve the family in psycho-education as well, as we find that it is essential in helping to manage those suffering from Bipolar Disorder. Clients may have other co-occuring psychological issues such as anxiety, ADHD, substance abuse, oppositional defiant disorder, and trauma related personality problems. We carefully build a clinical team for each client based on their gender, diagnoses, co-occuring issues, medical problems and family situation. Clients begin treatment and immediately participate in daily individual therapy, neurofeedback, and group therapies. We also feature an arts program and programming based around exercise, sleep and nutrition. Holistic activities including yoga, meditation, mindfulness based stress reduction and mentalization are also incorporated. Many of these modalities inform our clients suffering from Bipolar symptoms how to manage their stress, as Bipolar Disorder is a stress related disorder where higher levels of stress are associated with exacerbation of manic symptoms. By providing a multitude of tools and techniques, as well as educating clients and their families about the disorder, clients will be more prepared to deal with challenges in their life, using strategies that they have mastered and found particularly effective.
One of the most important factors in helping a person suffering from Bipolar Disorder in achieving health and wellness is to help them to better manage their stress and sleep, as well as to utilize outside resources and social support. This is accomplished directly with the client and in conjunction with their family through the PCH Family Therapy Program. Clients are taught to monitor their mood daily and watch for their early warning signs. Similarly, those closest to them are taught to watch for warning signs (as those suffering from the disorder may not be initially as aware). Clients learn to minimize stress triggers (especially around family members) and stabilize their sleep patterns. They learn the importance of taking their medication and not discontinuing it because they feel “better.” We work with clients to de-stigmatize Bipolar Disorder, as shame around the illness is often associated with discontinuation of medications. Clients are encouraged to discuss how they feel about taking medication and effects they may be feeling (side effects, loss of creativity, mood changes, shame issues). We also work with clients to improve their communication with family members or therapists about their mood state and condition. Clients are taught a “mania prevention plan.” They learn about the negative interactions of drugs (caffeine, marijuana, alcohol) and over the counter medications with their bipolar illness. When clients are finished with treatment at PCH, we arrange support groups and provide a solid discharge plan which includes strong psychiatric and psychological support.
In the first month of intensive treatment, each client and their family participates in our three day weekend Family Therapy Program. Families and clients learn to lower household stress levels. They are educated about the facts and myths associated with Bipolar Disorder. Stress and high levels of criticalness and overprotectiveness are strong triggers for persons with bipolar illness. Families are taught strategies to better communicate with their family member suffering from Bipolar Disorder and how to minimize stressful interactions. The goal of our Bipolar Treatment program is to help our clients learn how to manage their illness and return to a level of stability within their work or school environment and at home with family, friends and loved ones.