Bipolar Disorder Treatments at Mount Sinai

Bipolar disorder can be a challenging disease, so Mount Sinai employs an ever-expanding range of tools to treat it. Our psychiatrists, psychologists, and social workers are skilled in providing the correct diagnosis and most effective treatments, ranging from new psychotherapy techniques to emerging pharmaceutical options, to the growing field of device-based therapies. Due to our role as a leading research center, our patients also have access to state-of-the-art treatments still undergoing evaluation by joining clinical trials.

With the goals of controlling the immediate pain and unpredictability of bipolar disorder and ultimately returning patients to their fullest lives, Mount Sinai provides the following treatments for child, adult, and geriatric patients coming to us for outpatient and inpatient care.

Medications to Treat Bipolar Disorder

Pharmaceuticals, including antipsychotics and anti-manic agents, are intended to treat bipolar disorder by balancing levels of neurochemicals in the brain. Medications to treat bipolar disorder are frequently used in combination to control both the depressive and manic sides of the disease, and they include the following proven drugs as well as new medications being studied in clinical trials.

  • Proven Mood Stabilizing Medications
    The gold standard for treating bipolar disorder is the antimanic medication lithium. A series of anti-seizure medications have also proven effective against the disorder, such as Depakote (valproic acid) and Lamictal (lamotrigine). Antipsychotic medications shown to have significant efficacy in bipolar disorder include Seroquel (quetiapine) and Zyprexa (olanzapine). While most antipsychotics are proven anti-manic agents, few are also proven as antidepressants in bipolar disorder.
  • Bipolar Medication Clinical Trials
    Mount Sinai is conducting pharmaceutical clinical trials that explore existing medications used for other conditions that have shown promise in treating bipolar disorder. These include Galantamine, an Alzheimer’s medication now being evaluated for its effectiveness in treating cognitive deficits in bipolar patients. Another such trial is evaluating the efficacy of minocycline (an antibiotic) in treating bipolar disorder. Mount Sinai is also working with the pharmaceutical industry to develop and test the efficacy of entirely new medications for bipolar disorder.

Psychotherapy to Treat Bipolar Disorder

Also known as “talk therapy,” psychotherapy involves discussing thoughts, feelings, and behaviors with a trained professional in order to alleviate a range of mental health disorders. There are many forms of psychotherapy used for bipolar disorder, such as the following:

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
    A “problem-solving” form of therapy, CBT involves a therapist helping the patient identify and evaluate negatively skewed thought patterns, then providing methods for replacing those unhealthy patterns with new, helpful ones.
  • Interpersonal and Social Rhythm Therapy (IPSRT)
    This form of therapy recognizes the difficulty most bipolar patients have in sticking to regular biological and social routines (such as sleep patterns and interactions with friends), and seeks to establish a structure in order to better manage the disorder.
  • Family Focused Therapy
    This technique recognizes that a patient’s struggle with bipolar disorder can disrupt an entire family, and seeks to involve loved ones in collective therapeutic practices.

Devices to Treat Bipolar Disorder

The procedures in this growing field of therapy use various means of delivering energy directly to the brain—such as electric currents and magnetic fields—to treat mental illness including bipolar disorder. They are largely intended for severe, treatment-resistant cases, and include the following:

  • Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT)
    ECT applies an electrical stimulus to the brain in order to alleviate symptoms. The most established of the device-based treatments, ECT has undergone numerous improvements, such as the use of anesthesia and muscle relaxants and the use of novel electrical stimuli associated with improved side effects.
  • Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS)
    In Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation, a magnetic coil is positioned against the patient’s forehead, producing a change in the electrical field that stimulates nerves in the brain in order to improve symptoms. Mount Sinai is studying new forms of TMS intended to better adapt the treatment to the individual subject and more effectively stimulate structures deep in the brain.

Our Programs for Treating Bipolar Disorder

The following Mount Sinai programs provide care for bipolar disorder, with the goals of controlling symptoms among patients as well as providing support for loved ones.

  • Faculty Practice Associates
    The psychiatrists and psychologists of Mount Sinai’s Faculty Practice Associates offer a range of treatments, from psychotherapy to psychopharmacology.
  • Outpatient Psychiatric Department Clinic
    Open to adult, geriatric, and child and adolescent patients, our outpatient clinic provides a range of treatment options, from talk therapy sessions to medications.
  • Mood and Anxiety Disorders Program
    While the Mood and Anxiety Disorders Program (MAP) is primarily a research group, it also provides tertiary care for patients with challenging, treatment-resistant bipolar disorder.
  • Inpatient Services
    The Inpatient Psychiatric Service provides acute care for patients with a range of mental illnesses, from psychotic disorders to substance abuse disorders. Our multidisciplinary team cares for patients in specialized units, including Geriatrics, Child and Adolescent, and Co-Occurring Disorders.
  • Emergency Services
    If someone is in crisis (for example if the person is suicidal) our dedicated Psychiatric Emergency Room provides immediate evaluation and stabilization. Our emergency patients are either admitted to one of our inpatient psychiatry units or released with specific care plan arrangements.