Dealing With Bipolar Depression Being Involved In Treatment
While medical treatment may not be a self-help bipolar depression coping skill, being actively involved in your treatment is. The first step is ensuring you have quality treatment. Just any treatment isnt enough. You need to ensure that you get the best treatment you can which usually involves seeing someone who specializes in bipolar disorder, if at all possible. If the medical care you are receiving today isnt helping, make sure you look at alternatives.
You can also help deal with your bipolar depression symptoms by tracking them and giving the results to your doctor. Looking for triggers that may cause or worsen bipolar depression can also help. Additionally, noting side effects can help you decide if a bipolar medication isnt right for you.
In short, just because your doctor is prescribing the medication, it doesnt mean you cant have an active voice in the process.
Living With Bipolar Disorder Tip : Get Involved In Your Treatment
Be a full and active participant in your own treatment. Learn everything you can about bipolar disorder. Become an expert on the illness. Study up on the symptoms, so you can recognize them in yourself, and research all your available treatment options. The more informed you are, the better prepared youll be to deal with symptoms and make good choices for yourself.
Using what youve learned about bipolar disorder, collaborate with your doctor or therapist in the treatment planning process. Dont be afraid to voice your opinions or questions. The most beneficial relationships between patient and healthcare provider work as a partnership. You may find it helpful to draw up a treatment contract outlining the goals you and your provider have agreed upon.
Improve your treatment by:
Being patient. Dont expect an immediate and total cure. Have patience with the treatment process. It can take time to find the right program that works for you.
Communicating with your treatment provider. Your treatment program will change over time, so keep in close contact with your doctor or therapist. Talk to your provider if your condition or needs change and be honest about your symptoms and any medication side effects.
Taking your medication as instructed. If youre taking medication, follow all instructions and take it faithfully. Dont skip or change your dose without first talking with your doctor.
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Track Your Moods And Triggers
Keeping a journal helped Joyce of Sioux City, Iowa, figure out her typical triggers.
I write down how I am feeling so I can look back and reference other entries to look for common themes, she says.
Journaling helped her identify behaviors to address, such as waiting calmly at traffic lights, being patient with others, and handling comments that irk her whether aimed at me or not, she reports.
After three decades of living with bipolar, the 61-year-old has a handle on the emotional and physical signals that tell her its time to redirect her energy. When she feels her temper heat up, she gets down to her favorite music, including disco tunes like Chics 1978 hit Le Freak.
My therapist told me to put on my favorite music and dance when I am feeling rage. I had to laugh at the suggestion at first, but it works, and the only one who can see me is my cat.
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Recognizing Bipolar Disorder In Yourself Or Others
Just like each person looks different, the condition can vary from person to person.
It is important to understand how bipolar disorder tends to present. Its not like a light switch of emotions, as many believe it to be. Symptoms of mania or depression may appear over the span of days, weeks, or even longer.
Some episodes may last for a day or two while others may last for a week or longer.
To understand BD, its important to understand the signs of manic and depressive episodes.
Some signs that someone is experiencing a manic episode include:
- Feeling elated, high, or up
- Feeling extremely irritable
- A decreased need for sleep, sometimes going several days without sleep at all without feeling tired
- Changes in appetite
- Bouncing quickly between thoughts
- Risky behavior and poor judgment, such as spending large amounts of money, drinking excessively, or risky sexual behavior
- Grandiose ideas where the person feels exceptionally talented, important, or powerful
Since a manic episode can involve feelings of euphoria, its not unusual for people experiencing mania to want the feeling to last forever. This also explains why many who are experiencing episodes of mania may not ask for help. However, the feeling of mania will end.
Some people with BD will also experience one or more depressive episodes. They may have symptoms similar to major depressive disorder . Some of the most common symptoms include:
Treatment Of Bipolar Depression
As noted, depressive, dysthymic, and mixed states account for the majority of illness-burden in BD, and are strongly predicted by initial depressive, mixed, or anxious episodes . Remarkably few treatments are proved to be highly and consistently effective in acute episodes of bipolar depression, and there is even less evidence supporting substantial long-term protection from recurrences . In particular, there is continued controversy about the value and risks of antidepressant drugs in bipolar depression . Lack of highly effective treatments encourages widespread drug-combinations and other off-label treatments largely untested for effectiveness and safety.
Table 4 Placebo-controlled trials for acute depression in bipolar disorder
Relative paucity of experimental treatment studies for bipolar depression may reflect a broadly accepted view that major depression is similar in its clinical characteristics as well as treatment responses in BD and MDD . Instead, their characteristics differ, e.g., in family history, sex-distribution, onset-age, long-term diagnostic stability, episode duration, recurrence rates, and treatment-responses . The assumption of similarity probably contributes to the rarity of direct comparisons of treatment responses with depression in BD vs. MDD, and leaves bipolar depression as a leading challenge for psychiatric therapeutics .
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Bipolar Disorder And The Family
Living with a person who has bipolar disorder can cause stress and tension in the home. On top of the challenge of dealing with your loved ones symptoms and their consequences, family members often struggle with feelings of guilt, fear, anger, and helplessness. Ultimately, the strain can cause serious relationship problems. But there are better ways to cope.
The first step to successfully dealing with bipolar disorder is for families to learn to accept the illness and its difficulties. When youre feeling frustrated or guilty, remember that bipolar disorder isnt anyones fault. Accepting bipolar disorder involves acknowledging that things may never again be normal.
Treatment can make a huge difference for your loved one, but it may not take care of all symptoms or impairments. To avoid disappointment and resentments, its important to have realistic expectations. Expecting too much of your family member can be a recipe for failure. On the other hand, expecting too little can also hinder their recovery, so try to find a balance between encouraging independence and providing support.
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Lifestyle Management For Bipolar
According to both experts, cultivating healthy habits is paramount. Sleep deprivation and substance abuse exacerbate bipolar disorder and derail treatment, Preston said. Even patients who receive effective treatment dont end up getting better if theyre abusing drugs and alcohol, he said.
If youre struggling with substance abuse, seek professional help. Make sleep a priority. Try to get seven to eight hours of slumber per night, and wake up at the same time each morning. Consult your doctor if youre traveling between time zones, which boosts the risk for manic episodes.
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Find Coping Strategies That Work For You
When you are dealing with bipolar disorder, its important to identify healthy ways to deal with stress and remain both mentally and physically healthy.
Not all coping strategies will work for all people, but trying different methods out will help you determine what works and what doesnt. For example, some people might find yoga is a great option for them. Others might not enjoy it. Experiment until you find your go-to coping strategies that work well for you and that you enjoy.
From Patient To Therapist
Once I got healthier, I started noticing that some of my family and friends were struggling too, whether they were diagnosed or undiagnosed. Most of them were undiagnosed, because they weren’t going to get help. That’s what led me to become a therapist, get my master’s degree in mental health counseling, and also pursue my PhD in international psychology.
A lot of the clients that I work with are men of color. I can’t expect them to come in and be completely vulnerable with me in a traditional therapeutic setting. I can’t come at them with a textbook solution. The textbook wasn’t written by us, or even for us. I have to meet them where they are and make them comfortable.
I incorporate physical activity, whether it’s going to the gym and shooting basketballs, or going to the local trail and walking the trail. Especially when I’m working with young boys, playing games is how I build trust with them.
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What To Do When Youre Depressed
Your doctor might prescribe a few different kinds of medication, including mood stabilizers, antidepressants, and antipsychotic drugs. Talk therapy can also help you control stress and recognize your symptoms sooner. Another type of therapy, called cognitive behavioral therapy, teaches you good ways to handle the negative thoughts that come with depression.
You can take other steps to fight depression, too:
- Donât drink alcohol or use drugs. They can make your mood worse and keep your medications from working.
- Stick to a routine. Try to go to bed, wake up, exercise, and take your medicines at the same time every day.
- Donât make major life changes while youâre depressed. Your doctor or therapist may be able to help you schedule absences from work if you need them.
- Ask a family member or friend for support. They can help you keep up with your appointments and medications.
If you are thinking about suicide or hurting yourself:
- Tell someone who can help you right now
What Are The Symptoms Of Bipolar Disorder
The changing mood states do not always follow a set pattern, and depression does not always follow manic phases. A person may also experience the same mood state several times before experiencing the opposite mood. Mood changes can happen over a period of weeks, months, and sometimes even years.
An important aspect of the mood changes are that they are a departure from the persons regular self and that the mood change is sustained for a long period of time. It may be many days or weeks in the case of mania and many weeks or months in the case of depression. Shorter periods of mania or depression may be an indicator of more severe episodes in the future but are usually not enough to diagnose a person with bipolar disorder.
The severity of the depressive and manic phases can differ from person to person and in the same person at different times. Symptoms of mania include:
- Excessive happiness, hopefulness, and excitement
- Sudden changes from being joyful to being irritable, angry, and hostile
- Rapid speech and poor concentration
- Increased energy and less need for sleep
- High sex drive
Patients with depression can also become psychotic and hear things or have delusions.
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How Bipolar Disorder Is Diagnosed And Treated
Bipolar disorder is a lifelong illness. While some people with BD may have a single episode of mania, often people experience more than one mood episode.
If not treated, BD tends to get worse over time with more frequent, more intense episodes.
The key is to treat the symptoms, so episodes can be managed. Between episodes, people with BD may be free from mood changes. Others may have lingering symptoms. By sticking to a well-rounded treatment plan, it is possible to manage symptoms effectively.
To diagnose BD, a doctor may perform a physical exam and ask questions to rule out other illnesses that may resemble bipolar disorder. To be diagnosed, a person must have at least one episode of mania and one episode of depression. A mental health professional will assess symptoms, patterns in symptoms, and their severity to determine the type of bipolar disorder it may be.
Similar to other mental health issues, bipolar disorder is treated through a combination of things, including medication, therapies, or a variety of other activities. In addition, developing healthy routines including regular sleep, exercise, and avoiding substance use are helpful for people with BD.
The foundation of successful BD treatment involves prescription medications and therapy. The vast majority of people who seek appropriate medical care make some degree of meaningful recovery.
Tip : Watch What You Put In Your Body
From the food you eat to the vitamins and drugs you take, the substances you put in your body have an impact on the symptoms of bipolar disorderfor better or worse.
Eat a healthy diet. There is an undeniable link between food and mood. For optimal mood, eat plenty of fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains and limit your fat and sugar intake. Space your meals out through the day, so your blood sugar never dips too low. High-carbohydrate diets can cause mood crashes, so they should also be avoided. Other mood-damaging foods include chocolate, caffeine, and processed foods.
Get your omega-3s.Omega-3 fatty acids may decrease mood swings in bipolar disorder. You can increase your intake of omega-3 by eating cold-water fish such as salmon, halibut, and sardines, soybeans, flaxseeds, canola oil, pumpkin seeds, and walnuts. Omega-3 is also available as a nutritional supplement.
Avoid alcohol and drugs. Drugs such as cocaine, ecstasy, and amphetamines can trigger mania, while alcohol and tranquilizers can trigger depression. Even moderate social drinking can upset your emotional balance. Substance use also interferes with sleep and may cause dangerous interactions with your medications. Attempts to self-medicate or numb your symptoms with drugs and alcohol only create more problems.
Coping With Bipolar Mood Swings
Dramatic mood swings between the highs of mania and the lows of depression can be exhausting for the person with bipolar disorder. Heres how to cope.
Bipolar disorder is characterized by extreme mood swings from mania to depression. The pattern of highs and lows varies for each person: For some people, episodes of mania or depression can last for weeks or months, while for others, mood swings are shorter and more frequent. Coping with bipolar disorder and the mood swings it brings can be difficult. But understanding what causes mood swings can be the first step in coping with the ups and downs of bipolar disorder.
Bipolar Mood Swings: Causes and Triggers
Bipolar disorder is thought to be caused by a chemical imbalance that alters a persons moods. This imbalance may be linked to irregular hormone production or a problem with chemicals in the brain called neurotransmitters that act as messengers to nerve cells. Because bipolar disorder tends to run in families, genetics are also thought to play a role in fact, researchers believe that the chemical changes leading to the disorder result from a combination of genes and environmental influences. Some brain scans have revealed actual physical changes in the brains of people with bipolar disorder.
The best way to prevent mood swings is to get treatment for bipolar disorder. But its also possible to reduce the frequency and intensity of mood swings by being aware of situations or events that can trigger them.
Make Notes Of Your Symptoms
It doesnt have to be anything copious or formal. Tracking your symptoms may help you and your mental health team develop successful treatments and management plans.
Keeping a journal or using an app as a mood log may allow you to see patterns over long periods of time.
You may start to notice specific stressors before mood shifts. You may realize that changes in habit or diet coincide with mood episodes. Once patterns become known, you can find more targeted ways to manage bipolar disorder.
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Find New Ways To Relieve Stress
Trying new things may be one of the last things you want to do when youre in a depressive episode. However, doing so can help alleviate your symptoms.
For example, if youve never gotten a massage before, consider scheduling an appointment at a local spa.
Similarly, yoga or meditation may be new to you, but they can be beneficial during depressive episodes. These activities are known for being relaxing. They can make it easier for you to cope with the stress or irritability you may be experiencing.
Learning To Recognise Triggers
If you have bipolar disorder, you can learn to recognise the warning signs of an approaching episode of mania or depression.
A community mental health worker, such as a psychiatric nurse, may be able to help you identify your early signs of relapse from your history.
This will not prevent the episode occurring, but it’ll allow you to get help in time.
This may mean making some changes to your treatment, perhaps by adding an antidepressant or antipsychotic medicine to the mood-stabilising medication you’re already taking.
Your GP or specialist can advise you on this.