Skip to Main Content

Bipolar Disorder Guide


Bipolar disorder is a mood disorder. It causes you to have cycles of extreme mood changes that go beyond normal ups and downs. You will have periods of feeling joyful, energized, and excited (called mania). These are followed by periods of feeling sad and depressed. For this reason, it’s also called manic depression.

Bipolar affects your body, mood, and thoughts. It also affects how you eat and sleep, think about things and feel about yourself. It’s not the same as being unhappy or in a blue mood. It’s not a sign of weakness or a condition that can be willed away. Treatment is often needed and is key to recovery.

Bipolar disorder affects equal numbers of men and women. But women tend to have more symptoms of depression than of mania. This disorder often starts in the teens or early adulthood.


You can also take steps to help yourself. Consider the following:

  • Get help. If you think you may have bipolar disorder, see a healthcare provider right away.
  • Set realistic goals and don’t take on too much at a time.
  • Break large tasks into small ones. Set priorities and do what you can as you can.
  • Try to be with other people and confide in someone. It's usually better than being alone and secretive.
  • Do things that make you feel better. Going to a movie, gardening, or taking part in religious, social, or other activities may help. Doing something nice for someone else can also help you feel better.
  • Get regular exercise.
  • Expect your mood to get better slowly, not right away. Feeling better takes time.
  • Eat healthy, well-balanced meals.
  • Don't drink alcohol or use illegal drugs. These can make bipolar disorder worse.
  • As difficult as it may be, tell your family and friends that you are not feeling well and let them help you.


There is no cure for bipolar disorder, but treatment works well for many people. Treatment may include one or a combination of the following:

  • Medicine: Many different medicines are available for bipolar disorder. But it often takes four to six weeks for medicines to work their best. It’s important to keep taking the medicine even if it doesn’t seem to be working at first. Long Acting Injectable medication may be an option. It’s also important to talk with your healthcare provider before stopping or changing the medicine dose. Some people must switch medicines or add medicines to get results.
  • Therapy: This treatment is most often cognitive-behavioral or interpersonal therapy. It focuses on changing the distorted views you have of yourself and your environment. It works to improve your interpersonal relationship skills. It also helps you find out what your stressors are and how to manage them.
  • Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT): This treatment may be used in people with severe, life-threatening depression that has not responded to medicines. A brief electrical current is passed through the brain, triggering a mild seizure. For unknown reasons, this treatment helps restore the normal balance of chemicals in the brain and ease symptoms.

In most cases, you will need consistent, long-term treatment to stabilize the mood swings and provide the support needed to manage bipolar disorder. Life charts can be very helpful to manage the condition. In a life chart, you record daily mood, symptoms, treatments, sleep patterns and life events. You can share this life chart information with your healthcare provider. The chart can help your healthcare provider see patterns and figure out the best treatment. Family therapy can also be very helpful.



Your Behavioral Health benefits include:

  • Assessment Services: Standard assessment of mental health needs and progress.
  • Behavioral Health Day Services/Day Treatment: Day treatment and adult day care services.
  • Behavioral Health Medical Services (Medication Management, Drug Screening): Services include evaluation of the need for medication; clinical effectiveness and side effects of medication; medication education; and prescribing, dispensing, and administering of psychiatric medications.
  • Behavioral Health Psychosocial Rehabilitation: Services to help people re-enter everyday life (cooking, managing money and performing household chores).
  • Computerized Cognitive Behavioral Analysis: Including health focused clinical interview, behavioral observations, and health and behavioral interviews for individual, group and family (with or without the patient).
  • Equine Therapy: Provided to members with behavioral health conditions and involves activities with horses.
  • Medication Assisted Treatment Services: Services used to help people who are struggling with drug addiction.
  • Therapeutic Behavioral On-Site Services: Therapy services, behavior management, and therapeutic support are coordinated through individualized treatment teams to help members with complex needs from requiring placement in a more intensive, restrictive behavioral health setting.
  • Art Therapy: Provided to members with behavioral health conditions in an outpatient setting. Must be delivered by a behavioral health clinician with art therapy certification.
  • Therapy (individual or family): One-on-one individual mental health therapy.
  • Therapy (group): Mental health therapy in a group setting.
  • Pet Therapy: Provided to members with behavioral health conditions and involves activities with trained animals.
  • Massage Therapy: Massage of the soft body tissues to help injuries and reduce pain.
  • Non-Emergency Transportation Services: Transportation to and from all your medical appointments. This could be on the bus, a van that can transport people with disabilities, a taxi, or other kinds of vehicles.
  • Free Standing Psychiatric Inpatient:  Short-term alternative to inpatient psychiatric hospitalization and provides brief intensive services for patients presenting in acute crisis.
  • Crisis Stabilization Unit Services (CSU): Emergency mental health services that are performed in a facility that is not a regular hospital.
  • Detoxification or Addiction Receiving Facility: Emergency substance abuse services that are performed in a facility that is not a regular hospital.
  • Mobile Crisis Assessment and Intervention: Emergency mental health services provided in the home, community, or school by a team of health care professionals.
  • Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP): Structured mental health treatment services provided in a hospital four-six hours each day for five days per week.
  • Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP): Intensive outpatient treatment for alcohol or drug services and behavioral health treatment or services.
  • Ambulatory Detoxification Services: Services without extended onsite monitoring provides clinical and medical management of physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms (from alcohol and other drugs) on an outpatient basis in a community setting.
  • Peer Support Services: Services to help people who are in recovery from an addiction or mental illness.
  • Drop-In Center Services: A social club offering peer support and a flexible schedule of activities.
  • Infant Mental Health Pre and Post Testing Services: Testing services by a mental health Services professional with special training in infants and young children.
  • Community Based Wraparound Services: Individualized care planning and care management service to support children with complex needs who are at risk of placement in a mental health treatment facility.
  • Short Term Residential Treatment: Short term residential treatment program for pregnant women with substance use disorder.
  • Multi-Systemic Therapy: Multi-Systemic Therapy (MST) is an evidenced based practice of intensive treatment for troubled youth delivered in multiple settings. This program aims to promote pro-social behavior and reduce criminal activity, mental health symptomology, out-of-home placements, and illicit substance use.


Earn cash rewards through Sunshine Health My Health Pays programs:

  • Substance Use Health Coaching: Ages 12 years and up. Complete three coaching sessions with a Care Manager in three months. Enrollment in Case Management and signed consent form are required. Earn $10.
  • Post Behavioral Health Admission Follow up Visit: Earn rewards for attending an outpatient follow up appointment with a behavioral health provider within seven days after discharge from an inpatient facility. Earn $20.


  • 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline - it’s like 911, but it’s 988. Dial 988 for confidential, free, 24/7/365 support from a trained counselor for mental health, substance use or suicidal crisis. You can also text 988 for support (English only).
  • SAMHSA’s National Helpline is a free, confidential, 24/7, 365-day-a-year treatment referral and information service (in English and Spanish) for individuals and families facing mental and/or substance use disorders. Call 1-800-662-HELP (1-800-662-4357)
  • NAMI HelpLine is available Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Eastern. Connect by phone at 1-800-950-6264 or text "Helpline" to 62640, or chat.
  • Sunshine Health’s Behavioral Health Crisis Line. Call 1-866-796-0530 (TTY 1-800-955-8770). We are here 24/7, including weekends and holidays. Resources available on our crisis line include coping with behavioral health crisis, how to help a friend and information on suicide prevention helplines.
  • The Trevor Project (hotline for LGBT youth): 1-866-488-7386
  • Chat is available 24/7:
  • Trans Lifeline: 1-877-565-8860. Hotline for transgender people (volunteers and staff are transgender, as well.)
  • Crisis Text Line: 741-741. Trained crisis counselor replies within minutes.
  • Veterans Crisis Line: 1-800-273-8255, press 1.
  • National Crisis Text Line for the Deaf: Text HAND to 839863
  • Sunshine Health Community Resource Database: Find more free resources through Sunshine Health’s Community Resource Database. Enter your ZIP code to search for help with food, shelter, healthcare, money, school, jobs and more.

Contact Member Services or your Care Manager to learn about several programs, including:

  • HAPPY: 24/7 emotional support to address loneliness and social isolation
  • Hazel Health: School-based telehealth program to improve access to both behavioral and medical care in schools
  • Choose Tomorrow: Suicide Prevention Program
  • METS: Members Empowered to Succeed, support recovery and resiliency


Contact Sunshine Health Member Services at 1-866-796-0530 (TTY 1-800-955-8770) Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Eastern.