Mental wellbeing is as important as physical wellness when it comes to overall health and many people tend to forget this when it comes to dealing with friends or family members suffering from different mental issues. Society attaches a stigma to these illnesses and the person suffering is more than often blamed for having an illness. But with proper treatment and social acceptance, even an illness like bipolar disorder can be managed.
What Is Bipolar Disorder?
Also known as manic-depressive illness, bipolar disorder is an ailment of the brain that is symptomized by severe changes in moods, activity levels, and energy. Bipolar disorder can be hereditary and children with parents or siblings suffering from bipolar disorder stand a higher chance of developing the condition than those who do not have the condition running in the family.
This is, unfortunately, a lifelong illness with symptoms, including phases of extreme emotions, varying energy and activity levels, and unusual behavior. These are typically categorized into two sections called manic and depressive episodes.
Manic episodes are characterized by very high energy, activity, talking fast while jumping topics randomly, trouble sleeping, and feeling like the mind is out of control.
Depressive episodes are the other end of the spectrum and showcase extremely low energy and activity, sadness, a feeling of hopelessness, too much or too little sleep, suicidal thoughts, and a feeling that one cannot enjoy anything in life.
Like with any other illness, people with bipolar disorder can benefit from being properly diagnosed to start with. The logical first step would be to meet a doctor or a licensed mental health professional and talk to them about the symptoms.
Studies have shown that a proper course of treatment, including medications and ‘talk therapy’ (talking to a doctor), have helped people cope with their symptoms and focus on their everyday life. Proper treatment might increase the duration between episodes, thus giving the sufferer more time to lead a normal life.
Medications usually prescribed for this condition include antidepressants, atypical antipsychotics, and mood stabilizers, which have been shown to be effective.
Coping with Bipolar Disorder
if you or a loved one has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, here are some tips for coping with the illness:
Don’t forget your medicines:
Always have your medications on hand and don’t miss a dose.
Watch out for warning signs
Study your symptoms and learn any pattern that you may have noticed and triggers you feel bring on an episode and make sure your doctor is kept up to date on your condition. Common triggers include stress, seasonal changes, lack of sleep, and arguments with people you love.
Have an emergency plan:
For an emergency situation where you feel the onset of an episode, make sure you have all the necessary emergency contact information (doctor, close family members, etc.) on hand, list of medications, treatment options/preferences so that people can help you efficiently.
Avoid alcohol and drugs:
Apart from following healthy food habits, make sure you avoid alcohol and drugs. These are known to increase the severity of the symptoms and even make recurrences frequent.
Keep family and friends involved:
Even though some of your family members and friends may not understand what you are going through, find a few who can support you through this troubled journey. There is nothing better than a healthy support system and if no one can help, find a support group for people with similar conditions.
Coping with a serious condition like bipolar disorder can become manageable with proper medications, a treatment plan, and support from family and friends.
- “10 Warning Signs of Bipolar Disorder: Depression and Mania Symptoms.” ActiveBeat, www.activebeat.co/health-news/10-symptoms-of-bipolar-disorder-are-you-bipolar/2/.
- “Bipolar Disorder.” National Institute of Mental Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/bipolar-disorder/index.shtml.
- “Bipolar Disorder.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 31 Jan. 2018, www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/bipolar-disorder/symptoms-causes/syc-20355955.
- “The 4 Keys to Managing Bipolar Disorder.” Psych Central, 17 July 2016, psychcentral.com/lib/the-4-keys-to-managing-bipolar-disorder/.
- “Living with Bipolar Disorder: Self-Help Tips for Managing Your Symptoms and Staying Balanced.” Depression in Older Adults: Recognizing the Signs of Elderly Depression and Getting Treatment, www.helpguide.org/articles/bipolar-disorder/living-with-bipolar-disorder.htm.