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Bipolar disorder and schizophrenia are severe mental illnesses commonly referred to as psychotic disorders, meaning symptoms can include psychosis—impaired thoughts and emotions severe enough to induce a disconnect from reality. McLean Hospital offers comprehensive treatment and education to help individuals understand and manage symptoms of their illness.
Bipolar disorder causes severe shifts in mood, ranging from depressive lows to manic highs. These changes in mood are different from what may be experienced by most people, and if left untreated, often worsen. Bipolar disorder is treatable, and with proper care and attention to symptoms and recovery, individuals can learn to manage their disorder.
Schizophrenia is a complex brain disorder. Symptoms can include a disconnect from reality, paranoia, seeing or hearing things that aren’t there, and disorganized thinking. Though this a lifelong psychiatric illness, there are successful treatments, including medications and therapies, that allow individuals to live well with schizophrenia.
Find the help you need. Learn more below about treatment options at McLean, definitions, and helpful resources.
For patients who live with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or other severe forms of mental illness, McLean Hospital offers an array of mental health services. Successful treatment of these disorders involves a combination of elements, including medications, talk therapy, symptom education, and rehabilitation and social supports.
Staff in our inpatient, residential, outpatient, and community-based programs have specialized expertise in treating this patient population and in providing individualized support and education to family members. McLean is dedicated to continuity of services during transitions and helps to coordinate care with community clinicians, social service agencies, families, and other support systems.
Appleton provides comprehensive diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitative care for adults ages 18 and over who have schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or persistent psychiatric illness. Our self-pay, longer-term residential program focuses on personalized care that helps individuals understand, accept, and effectively manage their illnesses and symptoms. We help patients build skills so they can learn to live as independently as possible
Adolescent Acute Residential Treatment (ART) Program
The Adolescent Acute Residential Treatment (ART) Program provides intensive, short-term, and highly focused psychiatric care for teens and young adults through age 19 with emotional and behavioral difficulties. With a length of stay between 10 and 14 days, this insurance-based residential program focuses on stabilizing adolescents in acute crisis.
Behavioral Health Partial Hospital Program
This day program helps individuals to develop skills that improve their mood and ability to function in hopes of allowing them to better cope with life circumstances. To achieve this mission, the BHP utilizes cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) approaches (including dialectical behavioral therapy skills) for a wide range of conditions such as mood and anxiety disorders, depression, personality disorders, bipolar disorder, and substance use disorders. BHP is useful as a step-down transition from acute inpatient care or as an alternative to inpatient treatment.
McLean-Franciscan Child and Adolescent Inpatient Program
The McLean-Franciscan Child and Adolescent Inpatient Program is a place for hope and healing for children in psychiatric crisis. Intensive psychiatric stabilization is available for children and adolescents ages 3 to 19. Located in Brighton, Massachusetts, we offer expert assessment and inpatient mental health treatment in a safe and nurturing environment. The goal of the program is for each child and adolescent to successfully return to his or her home, school, and community.
McLean OnTrack focuses on treating young people ages 18 to 30 who have had their first episode of psychosis during the previous year. The years immediately following the onset of psychosis represent a critical period, and treatment during this time is important for good long-term results. Our self-pay, outpatient program is a leader in first episode psychosis care.
Waverley Place is a community-based support program which provides a therapeutic community for adults experiencing severe mental illness, including conditions such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Staff, peer counselors, and other community members assist each member to design and implement a plan of action customized to the individual’s needs and goals.
Program of Assertive Community Treatment (PACT)
PACT brings clinicians into individuals’ homes and local communities. This allows us to best meet the ongoing needs of people with psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and psychosis. As a “hospital without walls,” PACT strives to provide customized, person-centered care for individuals at any stage of the rehabilitation process. The program is structured to make sure people receive the help they need, when they need it, and for as long as they need it.
Find more information about bipolar disorder and schizophrenia care and treatment at McLean:
According to National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), every year, 2.9% of the U.S. population is diagnosed with bipolar disorder, with nearly 83% of cases being classified as severe. Bipolar disorder is a chronic mental illness that causes dramatic shifts in a person’s mood, energy, and ability to think clearly. People with bipolar disorder have high and low moods, known as mania and depression, which differ from the typical ups and downs most people experience.
With mania, people may feel extremely irritable or euphoric. People living with bipolar may experience several extremes in the shape of agitation, sleeplessness, and talkativeness or sadness and hopelessness. They may also have extreme pleasure-seeking or risk-taking behaviors. If left untreated, the symptoms usually get worse. However, with a good treatment plan and a strong lifestyle that includes self-management, many people live well with the condition.
Schizophrenia is a chronic and severe mental health disorder that affects how a person thinks, feels, and behaves. People with schizophrenia may seem like they have lost touch with reality and can experience hallucinations, delusions, and disorganized thinking. Although schizophrenia is not as common as other mental illnesses, the symptoms can be very disabling. With treatment, often including medications and coping skills, it is possible to live well this condition.
According to NAMI, schizophrenia affects about 1% of Americans. The average age of onset tends to be in the late teens to the early 20s for men, and the late 20s to early 30s for women. It is uncommon for schizophrenia to be diagnosed in a person younger than 12 or older than 40.
Psychosis is characterized by an impaired relationship with reality. People who are psychotic may have either hallucinations or delusions. Hallucinations are sensory experiences that occur within the absence of an actual stimulus. For example, a person having an auditory hallucination may hear their mother yelling at them when their mother isn’t around. Someone having a visual hallucination may see something, like a person in front of them, who isn’t actually there. Psychosis is manageable with therapy and medications. Early intervention (recognizing and treating the symptoms when they first arise) is an important part of best outcomes for this diagnosis.
You may find the following organizations useful for more information on bipolar disorder and schizophrenia:
McLean Hospital faculty have penned more than 50 books in recent years, including these books about psychotic disorders.
Social Cognition in Psychosis
by Kathryn Eve Lewandowski and Ahmed A. Moustafa
Chemotherapy in Psychiatry: Pharmacologic Basis of Treatments for Major Mental Illness, 3rd ed.
by Ross J. Baldessarini
Living with Someone Who’s Living with Bipolar Disorder: A Practical Guide for Family, Friends and Coworkers
by Chelsea Lowe and Bruce M. Cohen, MD, PhD
(Jossey-Bass/John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2010)
Looking for information on another mental health condition? Visit one of these pages to find out more.
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