Skip to main content

Mapping out your bipolar disorder treatment plan

This post was co-written by Ish Bhalla and Winston Lane.


As a chronic mental health condition, bipolar disorder can be challenging for both those who have bipolar disorder and their loved ones. However, with the right bipolar disorder treatment plan, it is possible to manage symptoms and improve quality of life.

Whether you have bipolar disorder or care for someone who does, it’s important to take your time assessing the multiple treatment options for this condition. This article will offer an overview of those treatment options and discuss how you can maximize your insurance coverage for the best outcomes.

Navigating bipolar disorder and treatments

Bipolar disorder is a condition that’s characterized by drastic shifts in mood and energy. People with bipolar disorder experience alternating episodes of mania and depression that can last for several days at a time. Manic episodes typically involve elevated moods, increased energy, a decreased need for sleep and impulsive behavior, whereas depressive episodes are marked by feelings of sadness and hopelessness and a lack of energy or interest. Knowing the signs of bipolar disorder is essential to getting treatment as early as possible, as untreated bipolar disorder can lead to a variety of negative consequences, including loss of employment, relationship problems, substance abuse, health concerns and suicidal thoughts.

There are several bipolar disorder treatment options available. A number of medications are available to help manage symptoms. Talk therapy, including cognitive behavioral therapy, can help those with bipolar learn coping strategies and recognize the early warning signs of bipolar episodes. Lifestyle changes, such as getting regular exercise, maintaining a healthy diet and practicing good sleep hygiene, can also help manage symptoms.

Sometimes, inpatient treatment might be necessary for those who are experiencing severe symptoms that cannot be managed on an outpatient basis. This type of treatment involves staying at a psychiatric facility or hospital for a period of time in a structured and supportive environment, with access to a multidisciplinary team of health care professionals.

Your personalized treatment plan might use a combination of these approaches. Multiple treatment options, such as medication and talk therapy, can often provide the best impact for managing symptoms of bipolar disorder.

Maximizing insurance coverage for bipolar disorder treatment

Leveraging insurance coverage for bipolar disorder treatment is crucial for optimal care. With the appropriate insurance coverage, you can access a range of bipolar disorder treatment options, including medication, therapists, psychiatrists and other specialists. In-network care options typically provide more affordable care, making it important to check with your insurance provider on available in-network treatment options. Out-of-network care options may also be available, but may come with higher costs and may require you to submit for reimbursement to receive coverage.

To find an in-network provider, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina (Blue Cross NC) members can use Find Care to search for therapists and psychiatrists, as well as inpatient and residential treatment options. If you already work with an in-network primary care provider, you can also find treatment by talking to your doctor about your needs and concerns. Your doctor may be able to recommend other providers, give you a referral and even prescribe temporary medication support while you establish care with a specialist.

Outside of using insurance, other options for accessing bipolar disorder treatment include sliding scale payment options through many clinics and mental health centers, government programs like Medicaid and Medicare, and non-profit organizations, like NAMI North Carolina.

Living with bipolar disorder can be difficult, but with the right treatment plan and insurance coverage, it’s possible to manage symptoms and improve your well-being. Seek treatment early and use all available resources, including insurance coverage, to ensure the best outcomes and care for yourself or your loved ones.

authors photo

Ish Bhalla, MD

Ish Bhalla, MD

Dr. Ish Bhalla is the associate medical director of behavioral health value transformation at Blue Cross NC. He's a graduate of Case Western Reserve University (BS), University of Toledo College of Medicine (MD), and UCLA (MS in Health Policy and Management). Dr. Bhalla completed residency and fellowship training at Yale University, is board certified in Adult and Forensic Psychiatry, and is an alum of the National Clinician Scholars Program at UCLA. He has a strong interest in the delivery of value based behavioral health care.

Browse related articles

Connecting with the right care

Figuring out where you “fit” on the spectrum of mental health is not always easy. But, the first step to finding a solution is to shake off the shame and stigma associated with mental health – because you are far from alone.

ADHD medication shortage

What to do if you can't find your ADHD drugs

Addressing senior isolation and loneliness

The detrimental impacts of senior isolation highlight the urgent need for providers, insurers and other health leaders to address this issue and find practical solutions to foster social connectedness among older adults.