Bipolar disorder is a mood disorder that can cause mood fluctuations between an extremely happy state (mania) and a state of depression.
It is also known as bipolar affective disorder, and manic-depression.
On the surface, it may seem like a straightforward disorder. However, symptoms can often present in unique ways. The general definition of bipolar is rather broad. Not everyone experiences the same set of symptoms.
Take a look at this article to learn more about the disorder and its symptoms.
With treatment, it is very possible to live a happy and full life. However, the very symptoms of bipolar disorder may make seeking treatment difficult for those living with the condition.
Oftentimes, the mania or extreme highs make people feel euphoric or nearly invincible.
It’s also been reported that mania comes with bouts of intense productivity or creativity.
As you might imagine someone with bipolar who experiences prolonged periods of creativity or extreme productivity may not want these experiences to disappear.
The periods of extreme creativity that often come with mania may have contributed to the unique skills and talents of some artists.
Mariah Carey, Kanye West, Halsey, and Demi Lovato are just some of the artists who live with bipolar.
The decision to seek and follow through with treatment takes energy and optimism. These are the very things depression can rob you of.
Without hope, energy, or optimism making the decision to seek treatment and mustering the tenacity to stick with it can be incredibly challenging.
These perpetual barriers to treatment often cause the progression of the disorder to worsen. This only serves to reinforce the difficulty would be patients face in getting the help they need.
Familiarity can also be a roadblock to treatment. Believe it or not, both manic and depressive episodes can feel familiar and comfortable to someone who has experienced these episodes for their entire life.
As chaotic and frightening as these episodes may sound, we tend to find comfort in familiar feelings
There are many activities you can add to your day-to-day life that can help manage the symptoms of bipolar disorder. Not only can these activities manage symptoms and side effects of bipolar disorder, they can make a big impact on your overall mental health.
mood Journal- find support -be aware of personal patterns (what happens before mania or depression sets in)-watch out for stimulants like coffee and depressants like alcohol-embrace exercise-add omega-3 and fatty acids-don’t be afraid to seek help
A mood journal or diary can be a wonderful tool for predicting and even stopping episodes before they start.
Oftentimes, episodes start slowly. Keeping a mood journal allows you to detect small changes in your mood that may mean an episode of mania or depression is coming.
Do you stay up later or spend more money before a period of mania?
Are you more agitated, or do you withdraw before a depressive episode. Tracking what you’re thinking, feeling, and doing is a good way to get ahead of things.
Also, mood journals can be handy when you are talking to your therapist or psychiatrist. It is difficult to remember what you were thinking and feeling last week or last month.
Whether it is a friend who also struggles with bipolar disorder or a support group, talking to someone who can relate to exactly what you are experiencing can be tremendously valuable.
You can get tips from others on how to effectively manage episodes and even improve your overall mental health.
Mental health struggles can often make you feel as if you are isolated and alone. Simply connecting with others who can relate to your challenges can help fight those feelings.
Not to mention, social interaction and the development of meaningful relationships is a great way to improve your overall mental health.
There are typically indicators to be on the lookout for as your brain and body get closer to having another episode. Similar to keeping a mood journal, getting to know yourself can be a good way to minimize the impact of an episode or get help before you find yourself in the depths of depression or mania. Becoming more self-aware may even give you the opportunity to stop an episode before begins.
Increasing your self-awareness also helps to increase your mental health, physical health, and social well-being.
Exercising may be the last thing you feel like doing when you’re in a period of mania or depression. However, it should quite possibly be your go-to activity to improve your mood.
Research study participants have found exercise increased their level of happiness and boosted their perceived energy levels.
Alcohol and bipolar can be a devastating combination.
It’s estimated that approximately 43% of individuals living with bipolar will develop alcohol addiction at some point in their lives.
In contrast, only approximately 7% of the general population of adults in America live with Alcohol Use Disorder.
The symptoms of this disorder can be incredibly challenging to live with. It’s thought that many individuals living with bipolar who frequently use alcohol use it to numb their feelings and escape the suffering when their mental health begins to deteriorate.
Alcohol helps to relax the central nervous system. In social situations, this calming effect may feel beneficial.
However, long-term alcohol use can worsen the severity of symptoms.
Developing research supports a handful of reasons why someone with bipolar should pass on a cup of coffee.
Difficulty Sleeping – Caffeine can lead to difficulty getting a good night’s sleep. Proper sleep hygiene is important for our overall mental health. But, it is especially important for people living with bipolar.
Caffeine and other substances that lead to increased energy levels may be instrumental in triggering a manic episode.
Links have also been found between caffeine use and increased suicidal ideations for people living with bipolar disorder.
Conventional therapeutic treatment disorder typically involves a combination of medicine and talk therapy.
It may be tempting to look only at medication when it comes to treatment. Typically, medication is not a silver bullet. Episodes can be triggered by stress and challenging life events. Talk therapy is one of the best ways to deal with stressors and challenges of life.
There are several different approaches a therapist may use.
Family Focused Therapy – The individual living with bipolar and their family work together during sessions to understand more about bipolar disorder. Later sessions focus on developing effective communication and problem-solving skills.
Interpersonal and Social Rhythm Therapy-. The patient records when they fall asleep and when they wake. The goal is to work toward developing a good sleep routine. Patients also learn to develop interpersonal skills such as approaches to solving conflicts with others.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy– Patients learn to challenge negative or unhelpful thought patterns. They also learn to balance day-to-day activities to strive toward a meaningful positive schedule.
There are a variety of medicines available to treat bipolar disorder as with any mental health treatment, the best treatment is the one that works the best for you.
Some medications work to tackle the highs, others deal with depressive episodes. Some medications are able to combat both mania and depression.
Mood stabilizers-These medications work to prevent both highs and lows.
Typically doctors will recommend mood stabilizers along with antidepressants to level out mood swings as much as possible.
- Bipolar is a mood disorder typically characterized by extreme highs and lows.
- Mania and depression are typical with bipolar. Individuals who have bouts of mania can feel intensely productive or creative during these periods.
- Bouts of depression can be severe and often make it difficult for someone to get the help they need.
- Mood journaling, exercise, and support groups are all activities that can ease symptoms and make treatment more effective.
- Cutting out caffeine and alcohol can be hugely helpful for someone living with bipolar disorder.
- Talk therapy in combination with medication is often the best route to go when seeking treatment.