Coping With Bipolar Disorder
Living with bipolar disorder can be challenging, but there are ways to help yourself, as well as your friends and loved ones.
- Get treatment and stick with it. Treatment is the best way to start feeling better.
- Keep medical and therapy appointments and talk with your health care provider about treatment options.
- Take medication as directed.
- Structure activities. Keep a routine for eating, sleeping, and exercising.
- Try regular, vigorous exercise like jogging, swimming, or bicycling, which can help with depression and anxiety, promote better sleep, and is healthy for your heart and brain.
- Keep a life chart to help recognize your mood swings.
- Ask for help when trying to stick with your treatment.
- Be patient. Improvement takes time. Social support helps.
Remember, bipolar disorder is a lifelong illness, but long-term, ongoing treatment can help manage symptoms and enable you to live a healthy life.
Wellness Recovery Action Plan
A Wellness Recovery Action Plan helps you account for important decisions and contact persons you may need if you get into a crisis. The National Alliance on Mental Illness recommends these plans as a means to avoid a crisis or have easy resources to reach out to. Examples of items on this plan include:
- phone numbers of key family members, friends, and/or healthcare providers
- phone numbers of local crisis lines, walk-in crisis centers and the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK
- your personal address and phone number
- medications that youre currently taking
- known triggers for mania
You can also create other plans with trusted family members or loved ones. For instance, your plan can record decisions about who will handle certain things during an episode. It might record who will take care of important tasks such as paying your bills or feeding your pets. It can also record who will manage financial details, such as finding sales receipts or making returns if spending sprees become a problem.
How Long Does A Manic Episode Last
A manic episode can last anywhere from a couple of days to several months . Mania can become so intense that people with bipolar disorder are admitted to hospitals for observation and care. Emergency interventions often take place when loved ones notice changes in behavior. Manic episodes can also contribute to behaviors that attract the attention of police and other authority figures, which can lead to hospitalization or time spent in jail.
The length of a manic episode in someone with bipolar disorder often depends on how soon they seek treatment. When left untreated, risky behaviors and other symptoms associated with manic phases can continue for months.
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What Should I Do While Im Waiting To Come Down
If youre currently experiencing a manic episode, there are a few things you can do.
- Reach out to your treatment team. Your doctor, psychiatrist, or therapist can help you navigate your episode. They may recommend that you start or change medication.
- Avoid mind-altering substances like alcohol or recreational drugs. Becoming intoxicated can worsen your manic episode or interfere with your medication management.
- Get plenty of sleep. It might be hard to sleep during a manic episode, but try to go to bed and wake up at a regular time. You might find that certain sleep hygiene practices help.
- Eat according to a regular schedule. Hunger can destabilize your mood. Reduce your consumption of caffeine and sugary foods, as these can also affect your mood.
- Spend time with others. If you attend a support group, this might be helpful. Spending time with people close to you and your condition can help you feel more validated and less isolated.
- Stay consistent with meds. No matter whether youre experiencing a manic episode or not, its important to consistently take medication thats been prescribed to you according to your doctors directions. Setting a reminder on your phone might help you during episodes.
Can Bipolar Disorder Be Prevented
There is no known method to prevent bipolar disorder. Because its exact cause has not yet been determined, it is especially important to know its symptoms and seek early intervention. Regular and continued use of medication can help reduce episodes or mania and depression. Some people who experience bipolar disorder may become suicidal. By knowing how to recognize these symptoms, there is a better chance for effective treatment and finding coping methods that may prevent long periods of illness, extended hospital stays, and suicide.
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What Is The Difference Between Major And Minor Depression
Dysthymic disorder/dysthymia Also known as a moderate form of depression, the symptoms last a long time at least two years but are not as severe as the symptoms of major depression. Minor depression This form of depression is similar to the others except the symptoms are not as severe and dont last as long.
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Recovering From A Manic Episode
In the recovery period, its time to start regaining control over your life and schedule. Discuss with your mental health provider and loved ones what youve learned from the episode, such as possible triggers. You can also start reestablishing a schedule for sleeping, eating, and exercising.
Its important to think about what you can learn from this episode and how you can help yourself in the future. This will help you engage later in mania prevention.
Following a manic episode, many people gain insight into what may lead to their episodes. Examples of common mania triggers can include:
- drinking alcohol or abusing illegal drugs
- staying up all night and skipping sleep
- hanging out with others known to be an unhealthy influence
- going off your regular diet or exercise program
- stopping or skipping your medications
- skipping therapy sessions
Keeping yourself on a routine as much as possible can help reduce manic episodes. But keep in mind that it wont prevent them altogether.
If you or a loved one has bipolar disorder, there are certain key preparations you may wish to make.
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Mental Health Helplines And Resources
If you find yourself struggling with your mental health, contact the hotlines below to seek for help and emotional support.
Befrienders is a not-for-profit organisation providing emotional support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, to people who are lonely, in distress, in despair, and having suicidal thoughts without charge.
SOLS Health is a behavioural health centre that connects clients to accessible individual, family and community mental health and nutritional services with an emphasis on combating the stigma of mental health in Malaysia.
Clients with a monthly household income below a certain threshold will qualify for subsidized rates.
Life Line Association Malaysia
WAO Hotline: +603 7956 3488
WAO SMS/WhatsApp line, TINA : +6018 988 8058
General Enquiries: 03 7957 5636 / 0636
WAO provides free and confidential services to survivors of domestic violence, rape, and other forms of violence.
Malaysian Mental Health Association
Reach Out To Your Healthcare Team
The first and most important thing to do if you think you have manic episodes, is to reach out to your mental health provider. This could include a psychiatrist, psychiatric nurse practitioner, counselor, social worker, or other mental health professional. If youre worried that youre close to the onset of a manic episode, contact your mental health provider as soon as possible to discuss your symptoms.
If you have a loved one or family member who is familiar with your illness, they may also help you receive support.
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Living With Bipolar Disorder
Bipolar disorder is a condition of extremes. A person with bipolar disorder may be unaware they’re in the manic phase.
After the episode is over, they may be shocked at their behaviour. But at the time, they may believe other people are being negative or unhelpful.
Some people with bipolar disorder have more frequent and severe episodes than others.
The extreme nature of the condition means staying in a job may be difficult and relationships may become strained. There’s also an increased risk of suicide.
During episodes of mania and depression, someone with bipolar disorder may experience strange sensations, such as seeing, hearing or smelling things that are not there .
They may also believe things that seem irrational to other people . These types of symptoms are known as psychosis or a psychotic episode.
What You Can Do: Daily Habits Make A Difference
These healthy lifestyle habits, along with professional treatment, can help manage the symptoms of bipolar disorder:
Treatment Works. SAMHSA Can Help You Find It.
Effective treatments for bipolar disorder are available in your area. The earlier that you begin treatment, the greater likelihood of a better outcome. For confidential and anonymous help finding a specialty program near you, visit SAMHSAs Early Serious Mental Illness Treatment Locator.
If you, or someone you know, need help to stop using substances whether the problem is methamphetamine, alcohol or another drug call SAMHSAs National Helpline at or TTY: , or text your zip code to 435748 , or use the SAMHSAs Behavioral Health Treatment Services Locator to get help.
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What Are Bipolar Cycles
A bipolar cycle refers to the various stages a person with bipolar disorder experiences. They typically experience an initial stage of mania, which is behavior characterized by high levels of energy, excitement, and sometimes, agitation.
A person with bipolar II disorder may experience hypomania instead of mania. Hypomania is similar to mania but with milder symptomsa person is still able to function with hypomania.
In a bipolar cycle, the manic or hypomanic stage is followed by a stage of depression. A bipolar episode may last an entire day, several days, or several weeks.
Can Bipolar Episodes Last Days
From the highs of mania on one extreme to the lows of depression on the other, there are serious shifts in mood, energy, thinking, and behavior caused by the condition. The cycles of bipolar disorder last for days, weeks, or months and are not just a fleeting good or bad mood.
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Reality #: Mania Often Needs Medications And Always Needs Trigger Management
A general note: Mania and depression are symptoms. One is not different from the other. Both signal illness in my book.
Its extremely unfair that people with bipolar disorder have to take medications when they feel TOO good. That sucks. Its not cool that coming out of a depression and going into a euphoric mania isnt a good thing when it feels so incredible. Its natural we want to end uncomfortable dysphoric episodes, but cling to the euphoric mania especially after a depression. I want to change how we look at mania. To explode the myth that depression is bad and mania is good. To help us find true stability that is defined by life without depression or mania.
I have a radical question to propose:
I ask this of the people who love a person with bipolar disorder who loves mania more than they love stability.
I ask this of you, if you have bipolar disorder and often seek more help for depression thanmania.
I ask this of myself daily, in order to stay stable.
What if all mania, no matter how a person feels is seen as just as dangerous as suicidal depression?
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Signs And Symptoms Of Mania
Many people wonder, What does mania feel like? There are multiple signs of mania that are experienced during a manic episode. These mania symptoms include:
- Increased energy
- Extreme talkativeness
The signs of bipolar mania include these manic episode symptoms over a prolonged period, normally for at least one week.
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How Do I Get Help If I Think I Have Bipolar Disorder
The usual first step to getting help is to speak to your GP.
It can help to keep a record of your moods. This can help you and your GP to understand your mood swings. Bipolar UK have a mood diary and a mood scale on their website. You can find their details in the Useful contacts section at the bottom of this page.
Your GP cant diagnose bipolar disorder. Only a psychiatrist can make a formal diagnosis. Your GP may arrange an appointment with a psychiatrist if you have:
- depression, and
- ever felt very excited or not in control of your mood or behaviour for at least 4 days in a row.
They might refer you to a psychiatrist at your local NHS community mental health team .
Your GP should make an urgent referral to the CMHT if they think that you might have mania or severe depression. Or there is a chance that you are a danger to yourself or someone else.
Your GP should refer you to your local NHS early intervention team if you have an episode of psychosis and its your first one.
Bipolar disorder can be difficult to diagnose because it affects everyone differently. Also, the symptoms of bipolar disorder can be experienced by people who have other mental illness diagnoses. It can take a long time to get a diagnosis of bipolar disorder.
You can find more information about:
- NHS mental health teams by clicking here.
A Common Misconception About Mania Is That Its Always A Strictly Euphoric Experience
The mood elevations of bipolar are not always the grandiose, feeling on top of the world experiences that people sort of classically think of, Wendy Marsh, M.D., director of the Bipolar Disorders Specialty Clinic and an associate professor in the department of psychiatry at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, tells SELF. That definitely does happen, but there are exceptions.
For example, a person may have a mood elevation with irritability or anger. So youve got this extra energy, your thoughts are moving fast, youre trying to do ten things at once, youre easily distracted, but youre agitated, Dr. Marsh says.
She adds that many of her patients express mania with irritability as feeling as if things are taking too long: You cant sit there at the red light its taking too long. You cant wait for someone to respond to what you just said because you have three other ideas you have to get express to them ASAP, she explains. Your brain is racing, and you dont need to sleep because youve got so many ideas and so much energy to do all these activities, and youre frustrated things arent happening even faster.
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How Is Bipolar Disorder Diagnosed
To diagnose bipolar disorder, a health care provider may complete a physical exam, order medical testing to rule out other illnesses, and refer the person for an evaluation by a mental health professional. Bipolar disorder is diagnosed based on the severity, length, and frequency of an individuals symptoms and experiences over their lifetime.
Some people have bipolar disorder for years before its diagnosed for several reasons. People with bipolar II disorder may seek help only for depressive episodes and hypomanic episodes may go unnoticed. Misdiagnosis may happen because some bipolar disorder symptoms are like those of other illnesses. For example, people with bipolar disorder who also have psychotic symptoms can be misdiagnosed with schizophrenia. Some health conditions, such as thyroid disease, can cause symptoms like those of bipolar disorder. The effects of recreational and illicit drugs can sometimes mimic or worsen mood symptoms.
Mixed Episodes And Mixed Features In The Dsm
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual s used by mental health professionals as a standard tool for diagnosis of mental health conditions. In prior versions of the DSM these mixed episodes were designated as ‘mixed episodes’, but they are not referred to as bipolar disorder with mixed features” A mixed feature episode is detailed as being:
- Three or more depressive symptoms during a manic or hypomanic episode
- Or, three or more hypomanic or manic symptoms during a major depressive episode
How Prevalent Is Bipolar Disorder with Mixed Features?
Since the DSM-5 has broadened the definition of bipolar disorder episode with mixed features, old statistics have become outdated. However, some studies have explored how many people do have mixed features along with the bipolar disorder. For example, one study found that 40% of major depressive episodes also included at least one symptom of hypomania. What’s more, those in the study who had that experience were more likely to be diagnosed with bipolar disorder later on. While more research needs to be done to get a full picture of the disorder, doctors and scientists already know that bipolar disorder episodes with mixed features are not at all uncommon.
Mixed Affective Episode Symptoms
The following are symptoms commonly associated with bipolar disorder manic episodes.
These symptoms must last for at least one week and be present most of each day
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Identify Medications That Help
Healthcare providers typically treat acute manic episodes with medications known as antipsychotics. These drugs can reduce manic symptoms more quickly than mood stabilizers. However, long-term treatment with mood stabilizers can help prevent future manic episodes.
Examples of antipsychotics include:
Examples of mood stabilizers include:
If youve taken these medications in the past and have some understanding of how they work for you, you may want to write down that information in a medication card. Or you could have it added to your medical record.
Is Bipolar 1 Or 2 Worse
The difference between bipolar 1 and 2, and how to recognize the symptoms. The main difference between bipolar 1 and bipolar 2 is the intensity of manic episodes. Those with bipolar 1 experience more severe mania, whereas people with bipolar 2 may have less intense manic symptoms, and more depressive episodes.
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