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Living with Bipolar Disorder

Living with Bipolar Disorder is complicated and often confusing. Symptoms may not always make sense to the outside world and can be easily misunderstood by others. Even for those living with Bipolar, things are not always much clearer. Between the extreme highs (mania) and lows (depression) of Bipolar Disorder, there are many ways that symptoms can manifest. Individual experiences of Bipolar Disorder are as varied as people themselves.

Many individuals living with Bipolar Disorder might not always realize when they become symptomatic. It can be easy for others to misinterpret a mood swing or changes in behavior during an episode. Those living with the diagnosis often have difficulty communicating what they’re going through or may not realize they’re experiencing an episode until after the event has passed. Furthermore, there are many symptoms people do not realize are related to Bipolar Disorder. They include: 

Irregular Sleep Schedule 

The high energy levels and restlessness experienced during a manic episode often interrupt sleep cycles, sometimes for days at a time, leading to excessive fatigue once the episode is over. This causes many people living with Bipolar Disorder to need more sleep than others at times, including the need to sleep during the day regardless of their typical sleep schedule.

Hypersensitivity

Heightened sensory processing sensitivity is a common symptom of mania and can cause even the most familiar sounds and sensations to become intense and uncomfortable. Bright lights, strong odors, touch, and even some flavors can become overwhelming and are typically avoided.

Hyperawareness

People with Bipolar Disorder often can’t help but notice the tiniest details in daily life or social situations due to heightened sensory processing sensitivity. They may react strongly or become fixated on things that seem inconsequential to others.

Oversharing 

It can be hard to process and filter the constant thoughts, heightened feelings, and energy levels of a manic episode. This can sometimes result in feeling unable to stop oneself from sharing random or inappropriate compulsive thoughts, even in serious situations. 

Risk-taking behaviors

Oftentimes judgment is severely impaired during manic episodes, especially if prolonged. This can lead to a variety of thrill-seeking behaviors including driving too fast, promiscuous behavior, physical fighting, and substance abuse.

Shutting down

It is easy to become overwhelmed by the emotional rollercoaster caused by mood swings and other symptoms of Bipolar Disorder. A typical response, particularly immediately following an episode, is to shut down and temporarily avoid or ignore everything outside oneself in order to self-regulate.

Neglecting self-care 

The depression that follows manic episodes can be debilitating. Daily self-care habits including regular bathing, eating nutritious meals, and cleaning can feel particularly difficult for those experiencing intense symptoms. 

Lashing out 

Irritability and anger are common symptoms during manic episodes. Many people become less patient, increasingly verbally aggressive, and are overly critical of loved ones.

Treatment

Bipolar Disorder typically responds well to psychiatric treatment. Most experts agree the most effective treatment involves a combination of therapy, medication, and hands-on skill training. Through the use of learned self-management skills and coping skills, those diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder can drastically reduce the frequency and severity of their symptoms.


LAT’s industry-leading outpatient rehabilitation team is an invaluable resource when it comes to treating Bipolar Disorder. Our personalized care, mentorship, and coaching help our clients learn the skills and tools they need to lead more balanced and emotionally fulfilling lives. By combining one-to-one sessions, group sessions, and experiential, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Dialectical Behavioral Therapy-focused learning modalities, we help our clients build structure and meaning in their lives while learning practical strategies to manage their illness and make progress towards recovery.

Contact Life Adjustment Team today to learn how to live well.