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What Living with Bipolar Disorder Can Look Like

Dealing with the highs and lows of Bipolar Disorder (BD) can be difficult, both for those living with the diagnosis and the people around them. Each mood swing or manic episode has the potential to turn a person’s life upside down. Without proper treatment and support, it can be easy for those with BD to become overwhelmed and struggle with feeling as if they have little control over their lives.
Fortunately, with a combination of life adjustments, therapy, and the use of medication, mood swings can typically be reduced and largely eliminated. Mood stabilizers including Lithium, Lamictal, Depakote, and Tegretol are generally effective and commonly prescribed, however antipsychotic medication may be necessary in some cases. The prescription needed depends on the type of Bipolar Disorder and the intensity of the symptoms. It can take time, trial and error, and commitment to finding the right medication for every individual.

Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder

People with Bipolar Disorder typically suffer from depression with the same intensity as those living with Major Depressive Disorders, however, they also experience periodic episodes of intense, elevated emotional states referred to as mania. Manic episodes are unpredictable euphoric high energy states that may at first begin with an improved mood, increased motivation, and heightened excitability. The intense positive mood that often accompanies the onset of a manic episode can be confusing for those with Bipolar Disorder and their loved ones once the mania disappears and is replaced with depression. 

Typically, manic episodes do not happen overnight. Instead, you will typically see a progression of various manic symptoms that build over days or sometimes weeks. During the early phases of a manic episode, a person can become extremely energetic and talkative, have tons of different ideas, become very productive, and even stay awake all night. 

As a manic state progresses and grows stronger, a person will lose more and more of their self-consciousness and sense of judgment and may feel drawn to pursue risky behaviors and act out of character. All too quickly, the early positive mood tends to become a more agitated and psychotic state. This can lead to lashing out at loved ones, self-destructive actions, and irrational or irresponsible choices.

Managing Bipolar Disorder

Learning to control your symptoms starts with proper treatment, beginning with medication and therapy. There are many things you can do to keep yourself on track and learn to live better. These tips can help you take an active role in your treatment and learn to cope with your symptoms more effectively:

  • Set and follow a healthy sleeping schedule. Sleep deprivation or an irregular sleeping schedule can cause symptoms to flare up and trigger manic episodes if prolonged.
  • Watch your diet and exercise regularly. Eating healthy foods and having an active daily routine will help minimize depression and stabilize mood swings.
  • Learn everything you can about Bipolar Disorder and the treatment options available to you. Being a full and active participant in your treatment will help you better prepare to manage your symptoms and make good choices.
  • Communicate with your treatment provider honestly about fears and obstacles, including talking about episodes, symptoms, and medication side effects.
  • Use tools including pill calendars, timed digital dispensers, and tracking apps to monitor and maintain medication adherence.
  • Pay attention to triggers and early warning signs; avoid drugs, alcohol, and other activities that may exacerbate symptoms.

Staying Optimistic

It is important to remember that you can live well with Bipolar Disorder. You are not powerless and can change the course of your illness regardless of the severity of your symptoms. Recovery is comprised of small daily victories that should be celebrated. It is easy to compare what you are going through with other people’s experiences, however, everyone’s journey is different. It is entirely possible to have a good quality of life, deep, fulfilling relationships, and as much success as anyone else, even while managing a mental illness.

Life Adjustment Team

Consider joining a support group for people with Bipolar Disorder or talking to a community care provider like The Life Adjustment Team, who will connect you with trained professionals who can assist in every area of your life. Assertive community treatment significantly improves long-term outcomes for people with Bipolar Disorder. 

Life Adjustment Team is ready to help you or your loved one begin the recovery process. Contact us today to help get your life back on track!