How to Manage and Control Your Bipolar Disorder
Although bipolar disorder is a major health concern, that’s not to say that you cannot help yourself. Aside from the treatment or medications you’re given by your medical team, you can do much to look after your own wellbeing, manage your moods and stay balanced. We’ve rounded up the best things you can do to ensure your wellness:
1. Get involved in your treatment: Your treatment process will go so much better if you become a full and active participant. Learn everything you can about bipolar disorder, from your treatment options to all the symptoms, so you can recognise them yourself. Once you’re well-informed, you can collaborate with your doctor or therapist in the treatment planning process. Your programme will change all the time, so it’s important to work as your healthcare provider’s partner, and keep channels of communication alive and well. Be honest about your symptoms and any medication side effects.
2. Keep track of your symptoms and moods: It is essential that you are closely attuned to the way you feel, as it’s far better to discern the early warning signs of a mood swing than to wait for full-blown mania or depression. By the time mood swings are apparent to most people, it’s often too late to do anything to stop it so closely monitor subtle changes in your mood, sleeping patterns, energy level, and thoughts. Also try to identify the triggers, or outside influences, that have led to mania or depression in the past.
3. Be prepared: If you do spot any warning signs of mania or depression, it’s helpful to have a wellness toolbox of coping skills and activities to draw from. These things will be unique to you, but many bipolar sufferers often find certain practises helpful; talking to a supportive person, getting a full eight hours of sleep, cutting back on your activities, attending a support group, calling your doctor or therapist, doing something fun or creative, exercising, writing in your journal, increasing your exposure to light and cutting back on sugar, alcohol, and caffeine.
4. Get ready for emergencies: For those times in which you experience a relapse into full-blown mania or severe depression, you need to have an emergency action place in place that someone else can follow. Your action plan should include a list of emergency contacts, a list of all medications you are taking (including dosages), a list of any other health problems you have, your treatment preferences and a list of symptoms that indicate you need others to take responsibility for your care.
5. Find the right support: While taking charge of your own health is important in bipolar disorder, having a strong support system is vital to staying happy and healthy. As well as surrounding yourself with supportive individuals, you also need to avoid or limit contact with people who drain your emotional energy or leave you feeling discouraged, ashamed, or guilty. This is good advice for anyone to follow, but especially for those who suffer with bipolar disorder – why wouldn’t you just want to spend time with people who truly value you and make you feel better?
6. Develop a daily routine: Every little thing you do in life has a significant impact on your mood. By building a structure into your life – including set times for sleeping, eating, socializing, exercising, working, and relaxing – you can help stabilise your mood swings. Regular exercise is vital for treating depression, so try to incorporate at least 30 minutes of activity five times a week into your routine. This can be as simple as going for a walk.
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