Get Some Restorative Sleep
Sleep may seem overrated when youre running on the energy of an upswing, especially since you dont feel fatigued despite needing less shut-eye than usual. Yet it can be dangerous to rob your body of this important respite. Getting a good nights rest is crucial for regulating emotion, impulsivity, and risk-taking, as well other important jobssuch as cognitive functioning. Healthy sleep also has been shown to decrease the risk for relapse.
Lean On A Support Team
In addition to seeking professional help, it can help to put together a group of friends, family members, and other trusted adults who can support treatment. Its not uncommon for someone with bipolar disorder to feel like a burden to others. When they do, it is common to self-isolate. It can help to remember that there are people who have a common goal: to help you cope with the ups and downs of bipolar disorder.
What’s Going On In The Brain
Up until recently, researchers hadnt been able to distinguish a person with bipolars brain from a person without the disorder on a scan. But science is making some tracks. A 2019 study that looked at the brains of people with bipolar and those with depression on functional MRI scans correctly differentiated their brains about 80% of the time.
The findings suggest differences in the amygdala, the emotion center of the brain, of people with bipolar when they process emotions like sadness, anger, fear, and joy, and could become a marker to help identify bipolar disorder on brain scans. Likewise, bipolar affects brain biochemistry and neurotransmitters in the brain that produce chemical variations such as oxytocin, GABA, dopamine, and serotonin. These chemicals may be unbalanced in the brains of people with bipolar disorders. But as of yet, researchers arent clear on how too little GABA or too many oxytocin-active neurons play a role in the disorder or whether measuring them can help.
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Learn About Bipolar Disorder
If you are struggling with bipolar disorder, you are not alone. It is also important to know that there are resources available to help understand what you are experiencing and what to expect with treatment. If you struggle with bipolar disorder, you can ask your mental health professional questions, read books by and for people with bipolar disorder, and seek out articles about coping strategies for managing symptoms. Educating yourself is an important step in removing any potential shame or stigma around a bipolar diagnosis.
Educate Yourself On Bipolar Disorder
Knowing how to help someone with bipolar disorder means educating yourself. Learn about the nuances of this mental health condition, including what causes bipolar disorder, the symptoms, and how to recognize behavioral patterns. Understanding how to identify these things early on is key to effectively helping your loved one learn to cope.
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Consider Collaborating With A Therapist
Psychotherapy is commonly used as a bipolar disorder treatment. Cognitive behavioral therapy is a common therapy for bipolar disorder, but family-focused therapy can also be quite helpful.
Therapy helps you and your loved one understand bipolar disorder better so you can learn how to handle bipolar disorder in relationships, and begin to develop effective coping strategies for long-term symptom management.
Get A Prescription Discount Card
Prescription discount cards could save you up to 85% off the cost of brand-name and generic prescriptions. How much you actually save depends on your medication and pharmacy. One caveat is that you have to use these cards instead of your insurance.
You can print out a prescription discount card from the companys website or use a mobile app. Some cards include medications that are delivered to your home.
Here are a few examples of prescription discount cards:
Mental illness is the third most common reason for hospitalization in the United States. You might need treatment in a hospital if youre having hallucinations or delusions or if youre thinking about hurting yourself.
A hospital stay for bipolar disorder can cost more than $1,200 per day.
Staying on the treatment plan your doctor prescribed can help you avoid a costly hospital stay. Certain bipolar disorder treatments help prevent the complications that lead to hospitalization. A 2021 study showed that taking the mood stabilizer lurasidone reduces the need for hospital stays compared to other bipolar medications.
Watch for warning signs that you might be headed for a crisis. For example, not sleeping could be a sign of hypomania. A medication adjustment might help prevent severe symptoms that could send you to the hospital.
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How To Help Someone Stay On Their Bipolar Medication
Just like someone with type 1 diabetes will always need insulin, a person with bipolar disorder will likely need to take medication for their whole life. Research shows that many of those who stop often find their symptoms return within a year.
As important as it is, people often don’t stay the course with their medication. There are some common reasons why someone might skip doses or stop taking drugs. If you have a friend or family member with bipolar disorder, you can help them stick with it. And knowing the reason the person quits using the medicine can help.
Make sure you tell them that you care about them, that you believe medication is key to their being well, and that you’ll be there to support and help them along the way.
The reason: The drugs don’t seem to be working.
Encourage patience. Many medications can take up to 8 weeks to kick in. So it’s not unusual to think they’re not working at first. Sometimes, they and their doctor may need to experiment for months or even years before settling on the right drugs and doses. Reassure them that most people are eventually glad they stuck with the process because they end up feeling a lot better.
The reason: They just forget.
The reason: They hate the side effects.
The reason: They just refuse.
There could be a number of reasons someone refuses to take a medicine. They might have a concern they’re not willing to talk about. Or they may not want to accept that they have a mental illness or that they need medicine.
Bipolar Irritability And Anger Can Damage Relationships And Hurt You In The Workplace It Pays To Learn How To Prevent And Defuse Flare
It starts with a routine annoyancethe living room is a mess again, or another driver cuts you off. Irritation takes hold, then mushrooms as swiftly as a nuclear explosion. Cheeks redden, the pulse quickens, and boom. Welcome to bipolar rage.
For Paul of Las Vegas, an innocuous comment by his wife during dinner could flip his switch.
I would go off, the 45-year-old architect says. It got bad.
Paul recognized that something wasnt right with his ever-changing moods, but stigma kept him from seeking treatment for bipolar until a year or so ago. So periodically, for the better part of 20 years, I would get irate over nothing, he says.
Stress at work would affect his sleep, which would affect his equilibrium. He would keep it together at the office, only to take it out in harsh words at home. His three sons would make themselves scarce. His wife bore the brunt of his verbal attacks before their marriage ended.
It was 100 percent the reason for my divorce, Paul says.
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What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Bipolar Disorder
Before you self-diagnose, remember, were not talking about being down in the dumps over a breakup or having a bad day, or being super-happy over a promotion or a new relationship. These are natural highs and lows that everyone experiences. The classic symptoms of bipolar disorder are kind of like being on the steepest roller coaster, where moods dip from the lowest depression to the highest high .
How To Recognize Bipolar Disorder Triggers
Unexpected fluctuations in mood and activity can characterize bipolar disorder. These mood episodes intrinsic to bipolar disorder might sometimes appear spontaneous and unpredictable, but certain triggers can also cause them. You may be able to identify triggers when a generally easygoing individual starts to grow irritable. You can also look for signs of an impending shift to mania or depression based on certain signs.
Understanding and recognizing the triggers and signs for bipolar disorder is extremely helpful as a part of a treatment plan to help your loved one avoid stressful situations, maintain stable moods, and seek treatment after a reaction has already occurred. It also helps to know what to expect and seek the necessary resources when your loved one is going through a challenging time.
The following are some of the most common early warning signals of a manic episode:
Changes in sleep routines or sleep deprivation
Sleep disruptions can serve as a trigger for depressive episodes and mood shifts. According to research, sleep deprivation is the most frequently reported trigger of mood episodes in people who have bipolar disorder.¹
Drug or alcohol use
Drug and alcohol use for recreational purposes are well-known bipolar disorder triggers resulting in bouts of manic or hypomanic behavior or depressed episodes due to several neurological causes. When it comes to bipolar disorder, heavy, long-term alcohol and drug use is especially a matter of great concern.
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Bipolar Disorder And Other Conditions
Some bipolar disorder symptoms are similar to those of other illnesses, which can make it challenging for a health care provider to make a diagnosis. In addition, many people may have bipolar disorder along with another mental disorder or condition, such as an anxiety disorder, substance use disorder, or an eating disorder. People with bipolar disorder have an increased chance of having thyroid disease, migraine headaches, heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and other physical illnesses.
Psychosis: Sometimes, a person with severe episodes of mania or depression may experience psychotic symptoms, such as hallucinations or delusions. The psychotic symptoms tend to match the persons extreme mood. For example:
- People having psychotic symptoms during a manic episode may have the unrealistic belief that they are famous, have a lot of money, or have special powers.
- People having psychotic symptoms during a depressive episode may falsely believe they are financially ruined and penniless, have committed a crime, or have an unrecognized serious illness.
As a result, people with bipolar disorder who also have psychotic symptoms are sometimes incorrectly diagnosed with schizophrenia. When people have symptoms of bipolar disorder and also experience periods of psychosis that are separate from mood episodes, the appropriate diagnosis may be schizoaffective disorder.
Anxiety: It is common for people with bipolar disorder to also have an anxiety disorder.
Recognize When You Need To Back Away And Gently Verbalize It
Sometimes, you will need to back away from a situation with someone who has bipolar disorder. But how do you do so without offending them and making the situation worse?
First of all, remember your own need for self-care. If your involvement with this person is causing you to throw your own needs to the wind, pause. Take a breath and back up. If this person is someone you work with, remember to keep your work and home lives as separate as possible. If this person is a friend or family member, you might need to consider letting go of the reigns and giving control over their situation to a licensed professional.
Your loved one has their limits so do you. Focus on your own life while still lending your support. Get support for yourself if you start feeling overwhelmed. Caregivers, in particular, get overwhelmed quickly, and that is when it can be truly helpful to talk to your own counselor.
Set your boundaries and stick to them. Let your loved one know if you need some time to yourself. You can tell them, Hey, Im feeling worn out right now. Is it okay if we talk about things later? Never set an absolute date, but use words like later to let them know you still want to support them and talk with them about their issues. You just cannot do it at the moment when you are feeling inundated and stressed out.
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What Are The Types Of Bipolar Disorder
Each type of bipolar disorder includes periods of highs and lows. The major difference between forms of the disorder is how extreme the mood swings are and how long they last. In all types, there are periods between manic or depressive episodes when symptoms lessen or people feel stable.
Ways To Show Up For A Friend With Bipolar Disorder
If you have a friend with bipolar disorder, you may already know that this health condition can cause extreme fluctuations in mood and energy levels. But there are also a lot of myths and misconceptions about bipolar disorder. Because of that, showing up for your friend with bipolar disorder will likely require some greater understanding of the condition on your part.
Judgment about mental health can be pervasive and harmful, and friends play an important role in providing support and kindness. A friend doesnt judge a friend in a way that triggers them to be their worst selves, Manpreet Singh, M.D., director of the Pediatric Mood Disorders Program at Stanford, tells SELF. A friend helps a friend be their best self.Here, mental health experts and a person with bipolar disorder share how you can be an excellent source of support to people with this mental health condition.
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Accept That Your Friends Symptoms Might Affect Your Relationship
Treatment may help manage a persons symptoms, but it cant offer a cure for a persons mood changes. Its a chronic condition. Your friendship may be one of the most stable aspects of their lives, says Dr. Singh.
Part of that friendship involves understanding how your friends symptoms may affect your bond. A friend who can weather those ups and downs will likely be someone who truly understands the condition well, Dr. Singh says.
This is another time when its important to remind yourself that your friends bipolar disorder doesnt define them. They can cancel on you last-minute without it being a sign that theyre isolating themselves due to depression. They can become easily irritated with you for reasons besides entering a manic episode. Do your best not to immediately chalk everything up to their bipolar disorder, and set and reinforce your friendship boundaries when necessary just as you would with other friends.
Pregnancy And Bipolar Medicines
One of the main problems is that the risks of taking bipolar medicines during pregnancy are not well understood.
If you’re pregnant and you have bipolar disorder, a written plan for your treatment should be developed as soon as possible.
The plan should be drawn up with you, your partner, your obstetrician , midwife, GP and health visitor.
The following medicines are not routinely prescribed for pregnant women with bipolar disorder, as they may harm the baby:
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Whats The Difference Between Mood Stabilizers And Antidepressants
Generally, mood stabilizers are also used for seizure disorder or migraine. This includes:
Atypical antipsychotics, such as Latuda or Zyprexa, can also be used to help stabilize mood. Doctors typically prescribe Lamictal as a mood stabilizer but they may also prescribe it off-label for bipolar depression.
The term antidepressant is traditionally used to denote selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors . These include:
Serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors include venlafaxine and desvenlafaxine . Other antidepressants include bupropion and mirtazapine .
All the formal antidepressants tend to help increase levels of serotonin, norepinephrine, or dopamine.
Build A Good Support Network
As isolation can have a negative impact on a persons mood, it is important for someone with bipolar disorder to regularly meet up with family and friends. This can give them a chance to talk through their thoughts and feelings, and receive support when they are going through difficult times.
Doctors, counsellors or other health professionals can form part of this support network, providing a person with a place to check-in so that they are able to keep a check on any mood changes and behaviours, and receive advice to help them maintain balance. Attending support groups with other people who have bipolar disorder can also be useful.
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Suggest Ways To Help Your Loved One Manage Their Treatment
Bipolar disorder is a chronic condition that requires people to take medication throughout their lives. However, nearly half of people with bipolar disorder dont stick to their treatment regimen in the long run, according to a study published in December 2016 in the World Journal of Psychiatry.
Stopping the medications that balance their mood can dramatically increase a persons risk of relapsing and causing a minor mood episode to become severe, even dangerous, Mayo Clinic experts say.
Asking gently without pushing if your loved one would feel supported if you remind them about their medication dosages and schedule, along with their therapy appointments, can help them avoid setbacks, say DBSA experts.
And if theyre comfortable with it, encourage them to adopt positive habits and self-management strategies that may enhance their professional treatment, Guglielmi says. According to the International Bipolar Foundation, helpful habits and strategies include: