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7 Keys to Managing Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder is a mental health condition that causes extreme mood swings and variations in energy level, attention, and behavior. As a result of these symptoms, bipolar disorder affects every aspect of a person’s life. Although bipolar disorder is not curable, people with this condition can live fulfilling lives. If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, here are 7 key changes you can make to control the symptoms and better manage the highs and lows.

#1 Educate Yourself

One way to gain a handle on bipolar disorder is to learn about the condition, including the symptoms, treatment options, and the latest research findings. There’s a vast amount of information available online, but not all of it is accurate, so it’s important to refer to authority websites. If you’re not sure where to look, talk to your mental health professional and ask them to recommend resources. By understanding your illness and learning more about it, you are better prepared to recognize the symptoms before they spiral out of control.

#2 Build Offline Connections

With our busy lives in modern society, we are becoming increasingly reliant on online social media platforms as a means of staying connected with loved ones. However, a solely online existence can be extremely isolating. For people with bipolar disorder, there’s a risk that mood changes may go unnoticed, putting their mental health at risk. Also, a lack of real-world contact increases the risk of depressive episodes. That’s why it’s important to make an effort to connect offline with friends and family. Counselors, support groups, and community organizations are other valuable support systems.

#3 Keep a Journal

Many people with bipolar disorder find that writing a journal helps them keep track of their moods, thoughts, and behaviors. Jotting down your state of mind on a daily basis allows you to recognize small changes and seek help before the episode increases in intensity. It’s also a good idea to note any triggers that provoke mood changes, such as work stress, relationship conflicts, or changes in season. What’s more, keeping a journal allows you to accurately report your symptoms to your counselor, who can use the information to plan treatment for mood stabilization.

#4 Practice Coping Skills

Counseling or talk therapy with a professional therapist is an important part of bipolar disorder treatment. However, you can learn additional coping skills to reduce the risk of a severe mood episode. There is no one-size-fits-all solution that works for everyone, but any healthy activity can be a coping mechanism, such as a hobby that helps you feel calm, talking to a close friend, or working out. It’s a good idea to have some coping strategies listed out before-hand because it’s difficult to generate ideas when you’re experiencing mood changes.

#5 Develop a Routine

One of the most effective strategies to prevent a manic or depressive episode in people with bipolar disorder is to establish a healthy daily routine. Eating healthy, getting exercise, taking your medications, and getting enough sleep are lifestyle choices that can improve and stabilize your mood. Besides work and family responsibilities, carve out some time to relax with friends and family and do things you enjoy as a means of unwinding from life’s stressors.

#6 Establish a Crisis Plan

Sometimes, despite your best efforts, a mood episode can escalate and you can start to feel like the world is fading away and you’re losing control. For such possibilities, it’s important to have a crisis plan in place. This includes making a list of people to call in an emergency and having information about your medications, doctors, and counselors readily available. Also, keep the mental health crisis hotline number on your refrigerator or somewhere you will see it if you experience suicidal thoughts.

#7 Get Professional Help

Bipolar disorder is a chronic condition, meaning the symptoms can last a lifetime. However,  people with this condition can lead happy, healthy, fulfilling lives with a combination of treatments, including psychotherapy and medications. If you or someone you love is struggling with a mood disorder or has received a diagnosis of bipolar disorder, counseling with a mental health professional can help. Call us today and let’s talk about helping you feel better.

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