Clinical depression involves persistent low mood or loss of interest often coupled with changes in sleep, appetite, energy, concentration and decision-making, and thoughts of death or suicide. Bipolar disorders involve periods of mood elevation or irritability along with changes in thoughts, speech, activity, sleep, and often episodes of depression.
Fortunately, we can work to reduce mood symptoms and prevent their recurrence. I use Cognitive Behavioral Therapy in my approach to treating mood disorders. We might focus on behavioral interventions to increase, decrease or regularize activity; learn strategies to manage unrealistic or ruminative thoughts; or learn ways to cope with sad, angry or fearful emotions. I also practice mindfunless-based treatments, including Acceptance and Commitment Therapy and Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy to practice getting distance from thoughts and strengthening present-moment awareness. Though depression and bipolar episodes (mania, hypomania, and/or depression) are recurrent, an important part of treatment involves relapse prevention. This involves spotting early warning signs of new mood episodes, learning strategies to counteract the onset of these symptoms, and developing an individualized treatment plan to prevent recurrence.
I have spent nearly a decade treating mood disorders and 15 years researching depression and bipolar disorder. Part of my past work involved acting as a lead therapist on a study funded by the National Institute of Health specifically designed to reduce symptoms in bipolar disorder. This experience has given me a deep understanding of the challenges faced by those with mood disorders, but also the opportunity for growth, resilience and wellness.