Here are 10 great ways to help manage your Bipolar Disorder.
It has really helped me. I found this resource through the “Bipolar for Dummies” book.
TEAM UP WITH YOUR DOCTOR AND THERAPIST
- Make and keep regular appointments.
- Be open and honest. –Doctors and therapist are only as effective as the accuracy of the information you provide.
- Consult your doctor before making any medication or treatment changes. –If you feel the urge to reduce or stop taking a medication, contact your doctor before doing so.
- Ask questions. –When you know why your doctor or therapist recommends a certain medication or treatment, or therapy, you’re more likely to stick with the treatment plan.
- Don’t hesitate to speak up. –You’re a consumer of the medical services and products you’re using, so you have a right to tell your doctor and therapist what’s working and what’s not, what you like and dislike, what makes you feel better or worse, an which side effects you just won’t tolerate.
TAKE MEDICATIONS AS PRESCRIBED
The single most important step for stopping and preventing a major mood episode is to take your medications as prescribed. Keep in mind that some medications require several weeks to establish a therapeutic level inn the bloodstream and alleviate symptoms.
REGULATE YOUR SLEEP
Too much, not enough, or poor-quality is both a symptom and contributing factor to bipolar mania and depression. You should be getting eight to ten hours of quality sleep per day/night.Whether you sleep eight hours solid or divide it into smaller chunks is up to you, but try to establish a regular routine so you’re sleeping at the same times everyday.
DEVELOP DAILY ROUTINES
Daily routines relieve stress, level moods, and help regulate sleep. Start with the basics, such as a specific bedtime and wake time and then add in your mealtimes. Track your schedule over the course of a week to spot any severe variations and try to bring them more in sync with your scheduled times.
BUILD MINDFULNESS AND OTHER SELF-CENTERING SKILLS
- Breathe. –Close your eyes and think only of breathing in and out.
- Focus on sensations. –Pay attention to what you see, hear, smell, taste, and feel at this given moment in time.
- Shift from doing mode to being mode. –Most of the time, people are in doing mode. Setting goals and trying to achieve them. In being mode, you accept your current situation and the way you’re feeling instead of fighting or analyzing it.
- Observe thoughts without judging them. –As you have thoughts, avoid temptation to view them as good or bad or to become emotionally involved in them. By observing your thoughts objectively, you reduce their ability to trigger emotional reactions.
- Accept yourself. –Comparing yourself to someone else or measuring your situation based on someone else’s often leads to feelings of inadequacy an resentment. Be grateful for who you are and what you have.
- Spend time in nature. –Leave your cellphone and other gadgets at home and enjoy a walk in the woods or at the local park. In the midst of nature, people tend to become more aware of what’s around them at the given moment and less absorbed in inner thoughts about past and future events in their personal lives.
CLEARLY COMMUNICATE YOUR NEEDS
Even if you have the most supportive network of family and friends on the planet, get into the habit of advocating yourself. Tell people what you need from them, express your preferences, and if they don’t seem to understand, say so. You can say something like, “I think maybe I wasn’t clear. What I really need.want is…”
AVOID ALCOHOL AND STIMULANTS
- Alcohol: –Moderate alcohol consumption (one or two occasional drinks) is okay, but you’re asking for trouble if you have more than that. Drinking alcohol can neutralize the beneficial effects of medication, trigger a wide range of damaging mood and behavior changes, and interact with some medications to cause liver damage, seizures, unpredictable shifts in moods, and other health problems. If you can’t drink in moderation, don’t drink.
- Stimulants. –Caffeine, nicotine, energy drinks, and other stimulants can tip your mood balance, especially if they cause you to lose sleep.
MONITOR YOUR MOODS
Early intervention is essential in preventing major mood episodes, and mood monitoring is the best way to tell when intervention is necessary. Hang a calendar on your wall or keep on in your purse or your cellphone or computer and rank your mood from –5 to 5 on a daily basis, –5 being severely depressed, 0 being baseline (neither depressed nor manic), and 5 being highly manic. If your mood drifts from the middle ranges to higher or lower levels for more than a few days, contact your doctor.
IDENTIFY YOUR EARLY WARNING SIGNS
- Missing an entire night’s sleep and not feeling tired
- Hearing more and more people tell you to slow down
- Being less sexually inhibited than usual
- Spending significantly more money than usual
- Engaging in reckless behaviors, including driving too fast.
- Dressing flamboyantly or wearing makeup that’s out of the ordinary
- Hearing more and more people ask you, “What’s wrong?”
- Getting plenty of sleep and still feeling tired
- Eating a lot less or a lot more than normal
- Being more socially withdrawn
- Crying or being upset for no specific reason
GET HELP AT THE FIRST SIGN OF TROUBLE
- Ask your doctor and therapist what to do if you begin to notice signs of depression or mania. Your doctor may be able to prescribe something for short-term relief
- Contact your doctor or therapist as soon as you notice your early warning signs or a shift in mood that causes concern.
- Be prepared to call 911 or head to the emergency room if you feel that your moods are escalating out of control. (Don’t drive yourself unless you’re confident that doing so is safe)
If you have any resources you’d like to share or if you have a comment, please do so in the comments. You may also DM me via twitter.