4 Tips for Managing Bipolar Disorder

4 Tips for Managing Bipolar Disorder

People are under a significant amount of stress these days. Isolation, climate change, political divisions, social unrest, wars, jobs, and financial woes are common. It only takes one to cause some anxiety.

Mood swings are a common response to stress. So are the inability to sleep well, poor dietary choices, hormonal vacillations, anger, tears, and other physical responses. But when those mood swings aren’t short-lived, you may be suffering from something more serious: bipolar disorder.

In these times, bipolar disorder is more often diagnosed and less often stigmatized. That’s good news for people who want to manage this mental health condition.

If you don’t manage your bipolar disorder, it will manage you. While the condition isn’t curable, it can be treated. Here are some tips you may want to consider to handle yours.

1. Learn How to Manage Symptoms

Bipolar disorder is characterized by periods of mania followed by periods of depression. That’s why it used to be referred to as “manic depression.” There are two degrees of the disorder, Bipolar I and Bipolar II.

The two types of bipolar disorder vary by the intensity of symptoms, especially the degree of mania. Mania that interferes with your ability to function and interact with others is characteristic of Bipolar I. Hypomania is an indicator with Bipolar II, wherein people experience over-confidence, hyperactivity, the inability to sleep, and effusive talking.

Depression is part and parcel of both types of the disorder, so managing it is vital. Participating in mental health rehab is often the most safe and effective way to learn how to do that. Both psychotherapy and education are tools typically used in rehab.

You’re not alone in your bipolar disorder diagnosis. Roughly 5.7 million adults in the U.S. suffer from it. Mental health rehab can help you understand the condition and deal with it.

2. Take Medication as Prescribed

Bipolar symptoms vary from person to person. But certain medications are commonly prescribed to treat specific traits. Taking them as prescribed is crucial to managing symptoms.

Common medications include antidepressants, mood stabilizers, antipsychotics, and anti-anxiety drugs. It often takes time for your healthcare provider to determine which ones are effective for you and in what combination. Patience, journaling symptoms, and frequent contact with your provider are essential to find out what works for you.

When a medication regimen is working, the person taking it will level out. That’s a positive outcome, but one that sometimes leads to non-conformance. Some patients think they’re “cured” and no longer need to take medication. Others miss the manic highs or despise the side-effects of the drugs. In every situation, they end up back where they were without it.

Taking any medication as prescribed is always the prudent course. Because those prescribed for bipolar disorder are altering brain chemistry and function, sticking to the script is vital. Use as directed.

3. Steer Clear of Drugs, Alcohol, and Stress

Chemistry is a key to why people suffer from bipolar disorder as well as how they can manage it. Drugs, alcohol, and stress all affect the chemistry of the brain. Therefore, avoiding them will help.

There are multiple potential causes of bipolar disorder, including genetics, childhood trauma, extreme stress, and brain chemistry. Drugs, alcohol, and stress all work differently on the brain, but none of them are good. They affect the work of neurotransmitters, which send messages throughout the body.

Drugs interfere with how neuron signals are sent, received, and processed via neurotransmitters. Alcohol disturbs the fragile balance between excitatory neurotransmitters, like epinephrine, and inhibitory neurotransmitters, like serotonin. Chronic stress depletes neurotransmitters, which causes the brain to work sluggishly and inefficiently.

Remember, the medications prescribed by your healthcare provider are designed to help balance brain chemistry. Using drugs or alcohol and leaving chronic stress unmanaged will thwart that effort, so steer clear.

4. Ask Others for Help

You’ve no doubt heard the saying that it takes a village to raise a child. That’s because it is our social bonds that help us survive. That’s certainly true for children. But adults need that support as well.

Create a network of people you trust, among your family, friends, and healthcare providers. They should be people who respect you and will give you space to slip or fail then help you get back up. They should be those who aren’t afraid to ask questions and who always have your best interest in mind.

Your network may also include your peers who suffer from bipolar disorder or related conditions. Even if you have no other connection with them, you share an important bond. They will understand your challenges and you, theirs. Receiving as well as giving support will be helpful to you.

You’ll need to educate your support people about bipolar disorder. Their relationship with you means they will be able to watch for signs of swings, stress, and other changes. Addressing bipolar symptoms in their earliest stages will improve the quality of your life.

Swing for the Fences

Bipolar disorder isn’t easy to live with. But if you don’t take steps to handle it, your symptoms will control your life. The best way to manage is to step up to the plate and swing for the fences. Your support network will be there to cheer you on.