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Bipolar Disorder Treatment for Young Adults

Bipolar disorder is most commonly diagnosed in the teen years or early adulthood, and in some cases, bipolar symptoms may develop in children. Symptoms of bipolar may fluctuate over time; however, treatment for bipolar disorder is usually lifelong.

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7 mental health questions answered

What is bipolar disorder?

Bipolar disorder, previously referred to as manic depression, is a mental disorder that causes changes in mood, energy levels, concentration, and the ability to carry out everyday tasks.

It can be difficult for young adults to manage symptoms of bipolar disorder as it can affect responsibilities like work, school, and personal relationships. The unique changes and stress that young adults face can trigger and worsen symptoms of bipolar disorder.

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Are there different types of bipolar disorder?

In some cases, a person may experience symptoms of bipolar disorder that don’t fall under these three categories, known as “other specified and unspecified bipolar and related disorders.”

The NIMH names three different types of bipolar disorder:

Bipolar I disorder

Bipolar I disorder is characterized by manic episodes that last a minimum of 7 days or manic symptoms that put a person in need of immediate hospital care. They are often coupled with depressive episodes that last at least two weeks.

Bipolar II disorder

Bipolar II disorder involves a pattern of depressive and hypomanic episodes. Hypomanic episodes refer to less severe manic periods.

Cyclothymic disorder (Cyclothymia)

Cyclothymia involves hypomanic and depressive symptoms that last for at least two years or one year for adolescents. The symptoms, however, do not meet the requirements for depressive and hypomanic episodes.

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Sandstone Care provides age specific care for those who struggle with substance use, mental health, and co-occurring disorders. We have treatment centers throughout the United States.

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What does bipolar look like in young adults?

Bipolar disorder can look different from person to person. Young adults with bipolar disorder may display various changes in their moods, habits, and behaviors.

These changes are more than the typical shifts older teens, and young adults experience as they transition into adulthood.

Young people struggling with bipolar disorder may face challenges at work, school, and in their relationships.

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What are some warning signs and symptoms of bipolar disorder in young adults?

Someone with bipolar disorder can experience extreme and intense emotions, changes in their eating and sleeping patterns, and display changes in their behaviors.

Periods of these changes are known as “mood episodes.”

If you or a loved one are experiencing suicidal thoughts, reach out for help right away. If you are in danger, you can call 911 or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – 988.

Signs of a manic episode

  • Feeling very “up,” elated, or irritable
  • Showing intense silliness
  • Feeling high in energy or “jumpy”
  • Decreased sleep
  • Loss of appetite
  • Talking very fast
  • Racing thoughts
  • Trying to do a lot of things at once
  • Engaging in risky behavior
  • Feeling talented or powerful

Sings of a depressive episode 

  • Feeling “down” or hopeless
  • Feeling restless
  • Having sleep problems
  • Increased appetite
  • Isolating themselves
  • Talking very slowly
  • Having trouble concentrating
  • Difficulty doing simple tasks
  • Little motivation or interest in doing things
  • Suicidal thoughts or feelings of worthlessness

What triggers bipolar mood episodes?

Factors that may trigger bipolar mood episodes can include:


Experiencing high-stress levels such as losing a loved one or traumatic life events can trigger mood episodes.


Certain medications may affect symptoms of bipolar disorder and potentially trigger an episode. It is important to consult with your health care provider on any medications you are taking and discuss what is safe.

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Change in seasons

Sometimes, there are patterns that connect mood episodes with the changes in seasons.

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Sleep problems

Poor sleep habits or a lack of sleep may also trigger intense mood swings. Getting quality sleep can help manage the symptoms of bipolar disorder.

Substance use

Mental illnesses and substance abuse commonly co-occur. Sometimes, people with mental disorders may turn to substances to self-medicate. Both disorders can worsen the symptoms of the other.

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It can be helpful for people with bipolar disorder to talk with their healthcare provider about caffeine intake. Caffeine is considered a stimulant and can trigger manic episodes.

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How long is the recovery process?

The recovery process for bipolar disorder is different for each person.

It, however, is not a quick process and does not happen within days.

Manic Episodes
Bipolar-related manic episodes can typically last anywhere from 3 to 6 months.
Depressive Episodes
Depressive episodes can last from 6 to 12 months.
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Sandstone Care offers age-specific, individualized, and evidence-based treatment programs that help you regain control of your life and achieve lasting recovery.

How do you calm a bipolar person?

If you are trying to calm a person with bipolar disorder experiencing a manic episode, it is important for you to stay calm.

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Learn how to cope with stress

Stress is a common trigger for mood episodes, so learning healthy ways to help you or a loved one cope is important.

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Don’t just tell someone to “relax”

It is also important to remember that telling someone to “relax” doesn’t help the situation and may worsen matters.

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Practicing mindfulness

Practicing mindfulness techniques like breathing exercises, meditation, journaling, or exercise can help calm someone down.

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Give space when needed

Sometimes people need space as well, so ensuring someone that you are there when they need you can make a difference.

What is the main cause of bipolar disorder?

Research is being done to determine the main causes of bipolar disorder.

Many agree that there is not one single cause for bipolar disorder and that it may develop from various factors.

Research suggests that individuals with bipolar disorder may exhibit differences in brain structure and function compared to those without bipolar disorder. However, healthcare providers still base diagnoses on symptoms and history, as more research is needed.

Some studies show that genetics can also play a role in the development of bipolar disorder.

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4.4% of adults experience bipolar disorder

How common is bipolar disorder in young adults?

According to a National Institute of Mental Health study, an estimated 4.4% of adults experience bipolar disorder at one point in their lives.

Bipolar disorder is somewhat common and often develops in young adults.

How do you test for bipolar?

It can sometimes be challenging to diagnose bipolar disorder because it shares similar symptoms with several other mental health disorders and commonly occurs with other conditions.

Your healthcare provider can refer you to a psychiatrist who can give the proper tests like physical exams, interviews, and lab tests.


How do I know if I need bipolar disorder treatment?

If you or a loved one are experiencing signs of bipolar disorder and think you may have it, it is important to reach out to a professional to receive a proper diagnosis.

If your symptoms affect your everyday responsibilities and cause a negative impact on your life, treatment can help make these symptoms more manageable and improve your quality of life.

If someone is in imminent danger, call 911 or 988, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

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How can I help a young adult with bipolar?

One way you can help a young adult with bipolar disorder is by learning more and understanding bipolar disorder.

When you understand how bipolar disorder works, the symptoms that can come with it, and the different treatment forms, you can better help yourself or your loved one.

Sometimes people with bipolar disorder need someone to listen to them, while others may need space.

If someone close to you is struggling with bipolar disorder, learning and understanding their triggers can be helpful so that you can help them avoid triggers and learn to cope.

Spending quality time with your loved ones and doing fun activities can also benefit the overall well-being of someone struggling with bipolar disorder.
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What are the treatments for bipolar disorder?

Psychotherapies, or “talk therapy,” such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) or dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), can be helpful for young adults with bipolar disorder.

Medications for treating bipolar disorder include mood stabilizers and second-generation or “atypical” antipsychotics.

Antidepressants may also be prescribed to help treat depressive symptoms that come along with bipolar disorder and mood stabilizers.


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Explore depression therapy options for teens.

We deliver evidence-based therapy treatment for teens in a number of areas. We’re available 24/7 to answer any questions.

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Treatment Centers

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Virginia Beach Mental Health Center

5040 Corporate Woods Dr., Virginia Beach, Virginia, 23462

(757) 585-3518
Age Groups: TeensYoung Adults
Levels of Care: Partial Hospitalization (PHP)Intensive Outpatient (IOP)Assessments
Treatment Programs: Mental Health
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Mental Health Richmond VA

4880 Sadler Rd., Glen Allen, Virginia, 23060

(804) 494-6144
Age Groups: TeensYoung Adults
Levels of Care: Partial Hospitalization (PHP)Intensive Outpatient (IOP)Assessments
Treatment Programs: Mental Health

Tinley Park Mental Health Center

16325 S Harlem Ave #260, Tinley Park, Illinois, 60477

(708) 905-2509
Age Groups: TeensYoung Adults
Levels of Care: Partial Hospitalization (PHP)Intensive Outpatient (IOP)Assessments
Treatment Programs: Mental Health
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Care for wherever you are in your journey.

Access a full range of treatments for mental health and substance use disorders. Whether you need a safe transitional living community, inpatient care, or outpatient therapy, we have a program to help.

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5-21 days of 24/7 on-site medical supervision.

Our Medically-Assisted Detox and Inpatient Center offers private rooms and 24/7 medically supervised care to support a safe recovery from drugs and alcohol, followed by comprehensive treatment that addresses your physical, psychological, emotional, and spiritual needs.

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2-6 Months

Our Transitional Living Program combines the structure of treatment and group living, with the freedom of living away from home.

This level of care is for young adults (18-30) who are not quite ready to heal from home. A safe and supportive living environment integrated with a PHP or IOP level of care so you learn life skills and healthy coping mechanisms in an environment that’s set up for your success.

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Transitional Living Overview

4 weeks of on-site day treatment.

Our Young Adult Day Treatment Program, also known as Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP), is a highly structured level of care for young adults that offers five days of robust programming a week.

Our two distinct mental health and substance use tracks help young adults to stabilize, begin to understand their mental health and/or addiction struggles, and heal from them. We strive to help our clients become more like the person they want to be without using negative coping strategies or substances to get there.

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12 weeks of on-site or virtual treatment.

Our Young Adult IOP, or Intensive Outpatient Program, offers two distinct tracks to address young adult needs, each track consisting of 3-4 days of weekly programming.

In our mood disorder track, we are able to focus on mental health, depression, trauma, and anxiety. In our dual diagnosis track, we are able to support young adults with substance use and mental health challenges. Each focuses on developing positive social, academic, and vocational habits while continuing with their job or school responsibilities.

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You have questions. We have answers.

Our goal is to provide the most helpful information. Please reach out to us if you have any additional questions. We are here to help in any way we can.

Bipolar disorder is not curable but is treatable.

Many people with bipolar disorder go on to live healthy and happy lives.

The effectiveness of bipolar treatment is unique to the individual. What works for some may not work for others. In many cases, different forms of treatment go through trial and error before finding one that fits the needs of the person.

In some cases, psychotherapy can be used to treat bipolar disorder without needing medication.

Many people diagnosed with bipolar disorder can live happy, healthy, normal lives.

Various treatments and therapies can help people manage the symptoms of bipolar disorder and learn how to understand how their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors all connect.

According to the Expert Review of Neurotherapeutics, several studies suggest that a healthy diet that includes fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, whole grains, and good quality protein can be associated with decreased risk of mood disorders.

More research is needed to determine the effectiveness of nutritional interventions for treating mood disorders.

However, a healthy diet benefits anyone’s overall mental and physical well-being.

Additionally, regular exercise can help with symptoms of depression and benefit both your heart and your brain.

Bipolar disorder is a lifelong disorder; however, symptoms may improve with age and treatment.

Being diagnosed with bipolar disorder does not mean that you are crazy.

Bipolar disorder is a mental illness that should be taken seriously and not looked at in a way that belittles the person who has it.

According to the International Journal of Bipolar Disorders, childhood trauma may be a risk factor for developing bipolar disorders.

Childhood trauma can affect many aspects of a person’s life, including functioning and coping mechanisms.

Several studies are researching how childhood trauma is associated with bipolar disorder.

Mania, or manic episodes, refers to a state of mind that involves high energy, feeling “up,” and excitement, typically followed by depressive episodes.

Someone experiencing a manic episode will have a sudden and extreme change in their mood and behaviors. A person may talk very fast, stop sleeping or sleep very little, start multitasking on numerous things, or may engage in risky behavior.

In some cases, severe manic episodes can cause someone to experience psychosis. Psychosis refers to a condition where someone may lose touch with reality and have difficulty understanding what is real and what is not.

Symptoms of psychosis include having hallucinations or delusions.

Someone experiencing psychotic symptoms during a manic episode may falsely believe they are famous or have special powers.

Hypomania is a less severe form of mania. When someone is experiencing a hypomanic episode, they may feel good and have the ability to keep up with everyday responsibilities and may not recognize certain changes in their mood or behaviors.

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