Managing Bipolar Disorder Symptoms
Perhaps you have been diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder or maybe you know someone living with Bipolar Disorder. If so, you know that managing the symptoms is vitally important to help you (or them) live a well-balanced and productive life. Sometimes the advice can be confusing, especially if you’re not currently under the care of a psychiatrist and/or therapist that you trust. In this article, you will find a summary of what you can do to manage bipolar symptoms. We hope this will be helpful and encourage you to lean into making good choices for managing your symptoms.
If you’re not sure yet if you are Bipolar, or are wondering about someone in your life, then you may find our previous article on understanding Bipolar Disorder helpful.
How to manage bipolar symptoms
If you or a loved one have been diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder, you are undoubtedly aware of some of the challenges this condition can bring.
On average, it takes ten years for a person to be correctly diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder because of the constellation of symptoms and the different diagnoses these can mimic.
Bipolar Disorder is a mood disorder that is characterised by shifts in emotional state.
Depending on what type of Bipolar one has, moods can range from manic (high energy, impulsive decision making, inability to sleep) to depressed (deeply saddened, lethargic and unable to function).
The hypomanic phase of the condition is more of a mid-level form in which mood and energy is elevated but not to the extent that mania brings.
Why Management is Important
When someone is diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder, the most important thing they can do is learn how to manage their symptoms. Learning how to manage symptoms can be a good way to reduce the impact on one’s life.
When one knows what to look for, it can be easier to identify when symptoms are amping up. Awareness of symptoms can help you to establish precautions to protect yourself from damaging consequences. Bipolar can be managed when you know what you are dealing with and what to look for.
Steps for Management of Bipolar Disorder
Managing Bipolar Disorder begins with understanding one’s baseline. In order to determine baseline functioning, one must track symptoms and be a keen observer of internal and external self.
Keep a journal:
Tracking symptoms is crucial. This does not have to become a laborious task. A simple charting format is sufficient and can quickly capture what you are experiencing over the course of weeks and months.
You can begin to notice changes as they happen when you are aware of your state of mind and external behaviours.
Establish a buddy system:
Bipolar can feel isolating at times. Ask a trusted friend or family member to help you pay attention to your activities and behaviours. Be sure it is someone who will be honest with you about their observations and can level with you about it.
Exercise and eat right:
While diet and exercise won’t cure Bipolar Disorder, it can help level the playing field for you to gain an edge against it. Exercise promotes endorphins within the brain, which is a powerful antidote against depressive symptoms.
Healthy, whole foods and limiting refined sugar will give your body the consistent energy it needs to function at its best. When your body gets what it needs without the spike and drop of your blood sugars, it has a positive influence on mood.
In addition to these factors, a healthy gut microbiome has been found to improve emotional and physical health.
Maintain contact with a therapist and psychiatrist:
Medication and psychotherapy are necessary components of managing Bipolar Disorder.
Sometimes when people with Bipolar and other conditions begin to feel better, they go off the medication due to feeling as if it is no longer needed. Remember to talk with your doctor before going off a prescribed medication.
It may be that the medication is part of what is helping to keep you on track and maintenance of the medicine is necessary. Therapy is also a great place to explore the impact of this condition on your life and to learn additional coping strategies to live your best life.
[This blog post originally appeared on Teyhou’s website www.livingwithfinesse.com ~ some content may have been modified for the UK & Irish context.]