How to manage bipolar symptoms
Earlier this week I wrote an article about understanding of bipolar and 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 characterized 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 behaviors.
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 behaviors. 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.