Bipolar Disorder

Being Bipolar Doesn’t Have To Get You Down

Receiving a diagnosis of being bipolar can be frightening. Not only are you left with trying to deal with serious mood disorders but also at times, you feel out of control. But being bipolar doesn’t have to get you down. Suffering with bipolar is NOT a symptom of a hole in the soul. This condition is a medical one and requires understanding, action and sometimes medical intervention.

What is bipolar disorder?

By understanding the ins and outs of bipolar disorder, you can more easily deal with it. A type of mental health problem, it influences your mood. Those with bipolar disorder may find themselves feeling:

  • High – manic or manic or hypomanic 
  • Low – depressed 

Whilst experiencing these episodes of high and low mood swings, psychotic symptoms may also manifest. Your psychiatrist may refer to them as ‘mood states’.

In the past, bipolar disorder was termed ‘manic depression’. Some people still use this term. Your doctor or psychiatrist will call it ‘bipolar disorder’ or even ‘bipolar affective disorder’, the term ‘affective’ meaning that the condition refers to your emotions or moods.

View The Symptoms Of Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar Symptoms
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Effects of bipolar disorder

Bipolar is an amplifier of moods. Everyone has varying moods, swinging between high, low and something in-between. When you are bipolar, when your mood is high, you might feel like you can conquer everything. Nothing can faze you and you love life. Come the lows, you will feel depressed, as if you have all the problems of the world resting on your shoulders. The world seems like a dark and scary place.

Having mood changes is not unique. This happens to everyone but with bipolar disorder, the changes can be extreme. To begin with, you may find this distressing, feeling as if your life is being turned upside down.  Depending upon how these mood states affect you and how you experience them, your psychiatrist will diagnose your type of bipolar disorder.

Whatever your age, you know that taking medication is going to be vital, as is keeping in touch with a doctor. You might think that the rest of your life is on hold. But it doesn’t have to be this way.  Bipolar episodes can vary. You could go for months with no episodes at all or have several close together. But there should be no stigma attached to this.

10 Ways To Improve Mental Health

10 ways to improve mental wellbeing with bipolar disorder

Whilst your psychiatrist will prescribe certain medications, natural remedies and various tactics can also help treat bipolar disorder. By facing bipolar disorder head-on and taking good care of yourself, you can improve your mental wellbeing. Here are some tips to help dealing with the disorder far less problematic:

  • Keep well informed. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) is a great source of information. You may pass the first 20-years or so of your life without a hitch, and then bipolar disorder appears. Whilst lifestyle changes and a mix of medication and natural remedies can help to manage it, understanding your condition goes a long way towards managing it.

  • Don’t limit yourself, just set realistic goals – your life doesn’t have to be put on hold. You can still do everything you want to if your targets are reasonable. Pay great attention to your general good health and don’t over-stretch yourself. Keep people around you informed of your condition. Remember that every small achievement you make is a step in the right direction.

  • Medication can help – but it may take time to get the balance right. Doctors cannot work miracles. There is the perfect medication combination out there for you that will keep you evenly balanced. Just be realistic and don’t expect to find it overnight. It may take a while, but it does exist. If your psychiatrist mentions a mood stabiliser or anti-depressants, don’t reject them immediately or be afraid of giving medication a go. The right mix of medication has changed many people’s lives in a good way. Remember to balance any negative side effects with the positive ones.

  • Life can still be fun – yes, you have mental health challenges to deal with but you can still live your dream. Tap into your inner strengths and make the most of them. Make use of your experiences to help others that are bipolar. Make the most of available support and live life in the moment.

  • Always be kind to yourself – by accepting and loving yourself as you are, people around you will respond in the same way. You did not create your illness. Recovery is not a myth so go for it.

  • Get plenty of sleep – when your body is well-rested, your mind is too. Whilst bipolar disorder may affect your sleep, particularly during manic phases, make a point to catch up during your low phases. You may sleep longer but don’t fight it. Being over-tired can trigger a change in mood, which is what you need to avoid. If you find sleeping problematic, you must discuss it with your physician.

  • Keep to a healthy diet – in 2011, a study found that 68% of people with bipolar disorder are overweight. You may also be at risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Eating well can help keep these problems at bay. If the chemicals in your brain are imbalanced and you have low serotonin levels, this can make you crave sweet foods or carbohydrates. Try to switch these to eating plenty of fruit and vegetables instead. If you don’t like to eat them, make healthy smoothies instead.

  • Get activeStudies have also shown that exercise can help improve your mood, particularly when in a low phase. Try yoga, going to the gym or simply going for a walk or run.

  • Add supplements to your diet or add in the form of food:
    • Omega-3 is a good one to try. Scientific studies have shown that bipolar disorder is less frequent in places where fish is eaten freely.
    • Magnesium can help to regulate moods. Useful when controlling episodes of manic and depressive behaviour. Talk to your doctor about trying magnesium supplements and eat plenty of green leafy vegetables, nuts and fish.
    • Vitamins – vitamin C and folic acid can be particularly beneficial. Whilst folic acid may help to strengthen cognitive health, there is no clear instruction from experts on which vitamins to take. Whilst vitamins may not directly help with bipolar disorder, they will boost your general good health, strengthening your ability to deal with the condition. Citrus fruits are full of vitamin C and folic acid is present in green leafy vegetables, such as spinach.
  • Try counselling and CBT – studies have shown that CBT and counselling can help deal with bipolar disorder. Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is useful when it comes to managing the symptoms. In 2017, a report showed that:  “CBT is effective in decreasing the relapse rate and improving depressive symptoms, mania severity, and psychosocial functioning.” It works most effectively with longer sessions of say 90 minutes or more. This way, the person attending can work with the counsellor to identify negative and destructive habits that may be influencing the effects of their bipolar disorder. By substituting them for positive ones, general improvements can be made.

Bipolar is not you

Always remember that your bipolar disorder is not ‘you’. When your moods are extreme, you are not exhibiting signs of bad behaviour. This is purely the disorder manifesting itself. Accept that the symptoms created by bipolar are not personality traits. You are still the same person you were before the diagnosis. By looking after your health and viewing the treatment of your bipolar disorder positively, being bipolar doesn’t have to get you down.

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