Living with Bipolar disorder doesn’t need to be as hard as it seems. Yes, depending on the intensity of the condition, it may need medication and therapy. But you know what?? There is so much more you can do by yourself to control bipolar disorder. These tips will help you understand bipolar disorder and how to cope with the condition to live a better-quality life.
What is Bipolar Disorder?
Bipolar disorder, formerly known as manic depression, is a mental health condition characterized by extreme mood swings of emotional highs to depressive lows. Called episodes, bipolar disorder is unpredictable, and one never knows how someone with the disease will react in a dynamic situation. A typical bipolar high can feature an energetic and maniacal state of euphoria, whereas a low episode is marked by depression, sadness, and a sense of hopelessness. Episodes of bipolar disorder usually vary in intensity and duration, with no predictive transition time between episodes, which can be sudden or gradual.
What Causes Bipolar Disorder?
Experts are yet to understand what really causes bipolar disorder, but some feel it could either be genetics or cognitive factors influenced by the environment. Research receiving attention today is brain function and how the neurotransmitter system could be the possible cause of bipolar disorder. A link has also been found between neurotransmitters and mood disorders where low or high levels neurotransmitters such as serotonin, norepinephrine, or dopamine could be associated with mood disorders.
Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder
There are three types of bipolar disorder ( Bipolar I, Bipolar II and Cyclothymic disorder. Symptoms of Bipolar disorder are often displayed during manic episodes and depressive episodes. Hypomanic episodes are usually a milder form of manic symptoms lasting around two to four days with no major impact on daily life. In manic episodes, one can expect the following behavior:
- Elevated mood: Individuals may feel extremely happy, euphoric, or irritable.
- Increased energy and activity: Marked by impulsive or risky behaviors and the decreased need for sleep
- Increased or faster speech: speech may become pressured, racing thoughts, erratic ideas, changes in moods, opinions, and topics
- Easily distracted: Thoughts and focus may jump from one topic to another
- Impulsiveness and hyperactivity: The urge to multitask and do several things at once
- Restlessness and risky behavior: Spending sprees, Impaired decision-making, reckless driving, or difficult sexual encounters.
- Grandiose thinking: Individuals may have inflated self-esteem or believe they have special abilities.
Major Depressive Episode
Major depression includes episodes that might last for at least two weeks and displaying any of the five symptoms below.
- Prolonged sadness or low mood
- Loss of interest or pleasure in previously enjoyed activities
- Fatigue or low-energy
- Difficulty concentrating and making decisions
- Changes in appetite or weight
- Feelings of hopelessness or worthlessness
- Suicidal thoughts or behaviors
Treatment For Bipolar Disorder
In addition to medication, electroconvulsive treatment (ECT), or transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), bipolar disorder can also be treated by counseling and psychoeducation. Mood stabilizers, anticonvulsants, and second or third-generation antipsychotics are examples of frequently prescribed drugs in severe cases. Anti-depressants are best avoided due to the risk of mania and rapid cycling. A common psychotherapy used by most therapists today is cognitive behavioral therapy for bipolar disorder which has proved useful in management of the condition.
Tips On Coping with Bipolar Disorder
Keep a Mood Journal
Keeping a mood journal to track your emotional ups and downs can help identify triggers and warning signs of episodes. Eventually, you will learn to identify patterns and motivations of your bipolar episodes. This helps in preparing yourself for what to expect and intervene accordingly. Identify potential triggers for mood episodes, such as lack of sleep, substance use, or relationship conflicts. Avoid or manage these triggers to minimize the risk of mood swings.
Maintain a Routine
Create a daily schedule that includes regular sleep patterns, exercise, and meal times. Consistency can help stabilize mood and reduce the risk of mood swings.
High levels of stress can trigger both manic and depressive episodes. Implement stress-reduction techniques like mindfulness, meditation, deep breathing exercises, or yoga to help manage stress. Write down in your journal what factors affect your stress so that you can avoid them. Explore creative activities to channel your energy to relax and destress yourself.
Avoid Drugs and Alcohol
Using alcohol or nonprescription drugs can affect bipolar disorder by altering the chemicals in the brain. This can worsen symptoms and make them more frequent.
Find Support Groups
Bipolar disorder can leave you emotionally drained and challenged. Locating support groups with people who you can relate to and understand what you’re going through is an important step in the right direction to managing your condition.
Educate Yourself and Loved Ones
Learn as much as you can about bipolar disorder, and involve your family and close friends in the process. Educating your support network will help them understand your condition, your triggers, and the warning signs of an impending episode. Building a support system ensures you are surrounded by friends and family who can offer emotional support when needed. Try to stay connected with loved ones, even when you may not feel like it.
Engage in a Purpose
Create ways to evaluate your beliefs, your values, and activities that are important to you. Setting goals to match these ideals will help distract you from an attack as well as prevent them by keeping you occupied with more positive behavior.
A balanced and healthy diet devoid of processed and junk food can go a long way in keeping your brain and body healthy. Regular exercise, sleep, and a good diet strengthen your physiology against dysfunction.
Acceptance and Patience
Do not fight your condition. The more you try to resist, the more intense the depression and negativity. Accept it and live with it without giving it importance to develop further.
Don’t Forget Your Medications
Do not be tempted to stop treatment if you have been prescribed medication. Take them on time and do not stop on your own because you might incur the risk of withdrawal symptoms, which might increase your bipolar condition.
Bipolar disorder is a lifelong journey, but it is treatable and need not be a life impairing one. All you need is an intelligent, restructured approach, loving support, good management, and patience to ensure your continuous well-being.