Develop A Healthy Routine
Another key factor in knowing how to deal with bipolar disorder involves developing a systematic routine that encourages health and vitality. Lifestyle choices are just that: choices. The choices you make affect your mental health. This is true for everybody, whether they have bipolar disorder, anxiety disorder, or neither.
So, dedicate some time and start making smart choices about your sleeping, exercise, eating, and drinking habits. There are so many small, easy-to-implement things you can add to your days or take away from them to help better control and manage bipolar symptoms and episodes.
With a healthy lifestyle, you might be able to experience a mood change less often.
What A Depressive Episode Feels Like
The unpredictable nature of cycling through mood states, being unsure of what symptoms may envelop you next, typically creates underlying anxiety, says Colleen King, LMFT, a psychotherapist who specializes in treating people with bipolar disorder, depression, and anxiety.
People with bipolar disorder can experience mixed states or dysphoric mania, she says. King says her clients experience their dysphoric mania as an excruciatingly difficult mood state that simultaneously combines symptoms of mania and depression, though the typical euphoric feelings are absent.
They also often experience psychomotor agitation, insomnia, anxiety, and restlessness. Sometimes they experience irritability or anger.
You might be especially curt with others and feel like no one understands your experience, says Louisa Sylvia, PhD, associate director of psychology at the Bipolar Clinic and Research Program at Massachusetts General Hospital.
You might lash out and not want to interact with anyone, Sylvia says in her book, The Wellness Workbook for Bipolar Disorder: Your Guide to Getting Healthy and Improving Your Mood.
During a depressive episode, Kings clients tell her that they feel broken or dont care about anything anymore.
They say they dont have the motivation or passion for anything except sleep. Her clients say they cry all the time and feel frustrated and helpless. They fear theyll never feel normal again.
Convincing A Person With Bipolar Disorder To See A Doctor
Aside from offering emotional support, the best way to help your loved one with bipolar disorder is by encouraging and supporting treatment. Often, that can be more of a challenge than it sounds. Since people with bipolar disorder tend to lack insight into their condition, its not always easy to get them to a doctor. When your loved one is manic, they feel great and dont realize theres a problem. When your loved one is depressed, they may recognize somethings wrong, but often lack the energy to seek help.
If your loved one wont acknowledge the possibility of bipolar disorder, dont argue about it. The idea may be frightening to them, so be sensitive. Suggest a routine medical checkup instead, or a doctors visit for a specific symptom, such as insomnia, irritability, or fatiguethen privately call ahead to tell the doctor of your concerns about bipolar disorder.
Things you can say that might help:
- Bipolar disorder is a real illness, like diabetes. It requires medical treatment.
- Youre not to blame for bipolar disorder. You didnt cause it. Its not your fault.
- You can feel better. There are many treatments that can help.
- When bipolar disorder isnt treated, it usually gets worse.
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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.
Ways To Support The Person After An Episode
- Some of the things the person might need when trying to get well are rest, routine, something to do, something to look forward to and love and friendship.
- If the person has ongoing symptoms or is finding it hard to cope, ask them how you can help .
- Do things with the person rather than for them, as this can help to rebuild their confidence.
- Try to be available to support the person , without being domineering or overindulgent.
- Encourage the person not to try to get everything done at once. Initially it might be easier for them to prioritize essential tasks and do less stressful activities.
- Let the person recover at their own pace, but actively encourage or invite them to do things if they find it difficult to become involved in life again.
- If the person finds it hard to make a start on things, encourage them to set a small manageable goal.
- The period after a bipolar episode can be a high-risk time for suicide. There is a list of warning signs of suicide attempts to look out for in the section on helping to prevent suicide.
- When possible focus on wellness and positive behavior, rather than illness and problem behavior .
- Offer assistance if the person has difficulties with remembering things or concentrating .
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Causes Of Manic Bipolar
While there is no full proof way of knowing why someone has Manic Bipolar Disorder, medical research has seen some traits and factors which may make one person more susceptible to the disorder than another.
Two factors that play a big role are:
- Genetic Makeup
Mental disorders often have a familial link. Studies show that some people are genetically predisposed to mental illnesses, so people with a family history of depression, schizophrenia, or other mental disorders are at a higher risk of developing Manic Bipolar. But there is still a lot left to be understood about the whys and hows of the illness as simply having the gene does not guarantee the development of the disorder.
- Biological Makeup
Manic Bipolar is a disorder of the brain, and studies show that people with Bipolar Disorder have irregularities in their brain chemicals or neurotransmitters. Unfortunately, there are no cures for this or any way of determining why these irregularities exist.
Additional factors such as substance abuse and addiction, going through trauma such as sexual or physical assault or ongoing abuse can worsen the symptoms of Bipolar Disorder or trigger the illness if the predisposition is already there.
Understand And Accept Depression
Learning more about depression can help people deal with the condition. Depression is a widespread and genuine mental health disorder. It is not a sign of weakness or a personal shortcoming.
Accepting that a depressive episode may occur from time to time might help people deal with it when it does. Remember, it is possible to manage symptoms with treatments, such as lifestyle changes, medication, and therapy.
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Dealing With Bipolar Depression Crisis Planning
While no one wants a bipolar depression to escalate to a crisis point, part of learning to cope with bipolar depression is to make a plan in case it does.
For example, a crisis plan might be:
Part of a crisis plan is also writing this plan down along with all diagnoses, medications and any other pertinent medical information .
What Can I Do To Manage My Symptoms
You can learn to manage your symptoms by looking after yourself. Selfcare is how you take care of your diet, sleep, exercise, daily routine, relationships and how you are feeling.
What lifestyle changes can I make?
Making small lifestyle changes can improve your wellbeing and can help your recovery.
Routine helps many people with their mental wellbeing. It will help to give a structure to your day and may give you a sense of purpose. This could be a simple routine such as eating at the same time each day, going to bed at the same time each day and buying food once per week.
Your healthcare professionals should offer you a combined healthy eating, exercise and sleep programme.
You can find more information about wellbeing any physical health at:www.rethink.org/advice-and-information/living-with-mental-illness/wellbeing-physical-health/.
What are support groups?
You could join a support group. A support group is where people come together to share information, experiences and give each other support.
You might be able to find a local group by searching online. The charity Bipolar UK have an online support group. They also have face to face support groups in some areas of the country. Their contact details are in the Useful contacts at the bottom of this page.
What are recovery colleges?
Unfortunately, recovery colleges arent available in all areas. To see if there is a recovery college in your area you can use a search engine such as Google.
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What To Do When Youre Depressed
The most important step you can take is to start and stay on a bipolar treatment plan. Most include a mix of medicine and talk therapy.
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
Be Supportive And Encouraging
If you notice behavioral changes in your colleague, it might be that they are going through a depressive episode. This can leave your bipolar coworker feeling helpless and extremely negative.
A good way to counteract and uplift their mood is by encouraging them to stay positive and offer your support.
Active listening will help your coworker to feel supported and not isolated. Remind them how great they have been performing and how well they fulfill their tasks.
A little praise can do wonders in improving your bipolar co-workers mood.
- Of course, make sure that you are genuine with your praise.
- Its not a good idea to praise them for behaviors you dont feel positive about. It could actually worsen things as they might sense that youre not being sincere.
- Being supportive and sincere is a good way to improve your work experience with a bipolar coworker.
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What Is Unipolar Depression
Unipolar depression is what we typically think of as depression: a mood disorder thats characterized by feeling sad or down for two weeks or more. Symptoms of unipolar depression can include:
- Constantly feeling sad, empty, or hopeless
- Changes in appetite and sleeping patterns
- Feeling fatigue or a lack of energy
- Feeling guilty, worthless, or like you are not enough
- Frequently having thoughts of death or suicide
- Losing interest or pleasure in your usual hobbies, or withdrawing from social activities
Unipolar depression does not include the manic behaviors that characterize bipolar depression, but like bipolar depression, its symptoms can be mild or severe, and can be disruptive to a persons everyday life. Learn more about depression and depressive disorders here.
Recognize Your Triggers And Early Signs
The goal of learning to recognize your triggers is that you can anticipate how a situation will affect you. This way, you can also lower the chance of having a major mood episode such as mania or depression.
Start by thinking of the mild or early symptoms youve experienced before an episode of mania, hypomania, or depression.
Questions you can ask yourself:
- Was I irritable a few days before?
- Did I feel more tired than usual?
- Was it difficult for me to concentrate?
- Was I sleeping more or fewer hours than usual?
There might also be some situations that triggered a mood episode in the past. For example, a job deadline, seasonal changes, lack of sleep, or interpersonal conflicts.
Not everyone responds to the same triggers in the same way. This is why it can be helpful to recognize what affects you most.
You might need additional support during these times. By recognizing the trigger, you can move to action and prevent a crisis or major episode.
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Instill And Enforce Boundaries
Its essential for parents to establish boundaries and consequences for inappropriate behavior for these children and then stick to it. By letting the kids run the house or manipulate them, because at times its just easier to give in, is actually doing these kids a disservice as future adults, explains Lynn. Children with bipolar will benefit from strong, but loving parents who dont let the child spin free because there are no consistent consequences.
Breathe Deeply And Relax The Muscles
Deep breathing techniques are an effective way to calm anxiety and soothe the bodys stress response. Slowly inhaling and exhaling has physical and psychological benefits, especially when done on a daily basis.
Anyone can practice deep breathing, whether in the car, at work, or in the grocery store. Plenty of smartphone apps offer guided deep breathing activities, and many are free to download.
Progressive muscle relaxation is another helpful tool for those experiencing depression and anxiety. It involves tensing and relaxing the muscles in the body to reduce stress. Again, many smartphone apps offer guided progressive muscle relaxation exercises.
We have reviewed some meditation apps that can help with depression and anxiety.
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Information For Family Carers And Friends
How can I get support?
You can speak to your GP. You should be given your own assessment through NHS mental health services to work out what effect your caring role is having on your health. And what support you need. Such as practical support and emergency support.
These are some other options for you:
- Join a carers service
- Join a carers support group
- Ask your local authority for a carers assessment
- Read about the condition
- Apply for welfare benefits for carers
Rethink Mental Illness run carers support groups in some areas. You can also search for groups on the Carers Trust website:
- Rethink Mental Illness: www.rethink.org/about-us/our-support-groups
- Carers Trust: www.carers.org/search/network-partners
How can I support the person I care for?
You might find it easier to support someone with bipolar disorder if you understand their symptoms, treatment and self-management skills.
You should be aware of what you can do if you are worried about their mental state. It can be helpful to know contact information for their mental health team or GP.
You could find out from your relative if they have a crisis plan. You could help your relative to make a crisis plan if they dont have one.
As a carer you should be involved in decisions about care planning. But you dont have a legal right to this. The medical team should encourage the person that you care for to allow information to be shared with you.
You can find out more information about:
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. Here’s 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 person’s 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 it’s also possible to reduce the frequency and intensity of mood swings by being aware of situations or events that can trigger them.
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