managing bipolar disorder

Management of Bipolar Disorder: Find strategies to help cope with symptoms on a daily basis.

The treatment for Bipolar Disorder often includes a combination of medication and psychotherapy. However, it is important for the patient to take responsibility for his recovery and to find strategies that will allow him to manage the symptoms of bipolar disorder on a daily basis. Although Bipolar Disorder can be different in each person, there are some common ways in which people can better control their illness.

Learn About the Disorder

Become an expert in the illness: what are the major symptoms, what treatments are available, how it impacts daily life. Find out as much as you can by reading books and articles. Keep up with medical research and advances in the treatment of bipolar disorder. Understand medications, learn what medications are available and read package inserts for any medications you are taking to learn about side effects, interactions with other medications and what to expect from the medication.

Track Your Moods

Understanding and tracking your own moods will help you to understand the triggers that may bring on an acute episode of either mania or depression. There may be certain times of the year or certain situations that will start an episode. Learning these triggers can help you to reach out for support or more intensive treatment during these periods.

Bipolar.com offers useful mood charts and mood questionnaires to help you with this.

Join a Support Group

Check with your local mental health center or hospital and ask about support groups in your area. Support groups can provide you with a way to share experiences and give you the emotional support you may need. Support groups are also a way of sharing coping strategies to find out what has worked for other people.

The Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance can also provide information on support groups in your area.

Stay Away From Alcohol and Illicit Substances

Alcohol and some illicit substances (those that are mind or mood altering) can interfere with your current treatment. They can alter your emotional balance and can interact with your current medication. Although they are sometimes used as a way of “self-medicating” they do not help to manage symptoms correctly and can send you into depression or trigger mania.

Create an Emergency Plan

Keep the number to a crisis center in your wallet. Talk with friends and relatives about symptoms of acute episodes and what they can do to help you in that situation. Remember that you can go to a hospital emergency room for treatment when necessary. Discuss signs with loved ones, such as not sleeping or high emotions and let them know what they can do to help during these times.

Keep a Journal

Keep track of your moods, your medications and any problems you may have. This journal will help you talk with your physician and determine if changes in medication should be made. Include stressful situations, sleeping patterns and triggers you may have noticed.

Eat a Healthy Diet

Medications for bipolar disorder often cause weight gain. Eating right cannot only help you feel better physically; it can help to reduce the chances of gaining weight. Avoiding caffeine or limiting sugar helps some people to feel better.

Understand Your Medication

Learn about side effects and be aware of what side effects warrant contacting your physician, which require immediate medical attention and which should disappear within a week or two. Talk to your pharmacist or doctor about any interactions with other medications, even over-the-counter medications.

Although Bipolar Disorder is difficult to live with, there are many successful people that have battled the symptoms and have managed to cope with daily struggles and succeed. It is hard work, but it can be done.

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