What is Bipolar Disorder?
Bipolar disorder is considered a significant psychiatric condition that results in abrupt and severe mood fluctuations. Bipolar disorder is characterized by two extremes—depressed (“low”) and manic (“high”). The individual suffering from bipolar disorder may go through periods of “highs” (diagnostically known as mania) and “lows” (recognized as depression), which may last for a short while or last for many weeks. The individual may go through separate manic and depressive phases, and all these episodes may change quickly, even more than once in a single week.
Individuals dealing with a severe bipolar illness may also experience psychotic symptoms such as hallucinations or delusions, as well as thoughts of harming themselves or taking their own lives. Bipolar disorder can make it difficult for a person to carry out everyday activities properly and can harm both personal and professional relationships.
Bipolar disorder was formerly known as manic depressive illness. The severity varies, and mild instances may seem typical for years. There are many different symptoms; a person may be either manic or largely depressive. A person is most likely healthy and able to operate between bouts. Symptoms of depression include feeling gloomy and hopeless all the time, being sluggish, and even having suicidal thoughts. When manic, a person exhibits excessive elation, is more irritable, needs less sleep, develops lofty plans, and may act rashly in ways that might be harmful.
Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder
When they are in their manic or depressed stages, people with bipolar illness have two different sets of symptoms.
Symptoms of the Manic Phase
Manic episodes cause the person to act impulsively, make poor judgmental choices, and take extraordinary risks. Additionally, the individual disregards or is ignorant of any unfavorable effects of their unanticipated activities. Symptoms of the manic phase are:
- Extreme joy with the thought that nothing, not even terrible news or sad circumstances, can alter the situation
- Strong irritation or a sudden wrath
- Possess strong views without a rational foundation or very ambitious fantasies. The individual can assert that they have a unique bond with God, famous people, or figures from the past.
- Unrealistic expectations about one’s capacity. They could believe that nothing can stop them from completing a challenging task.
- Inability to manage harmful activities such as shopping too much or driving too fast
- Flowing incessantly in the mind are uncontrollable ideas.
- Lack of sleep, which can lead to agitation and hyperactivity
- Having trouble focusing and being incapable of performing typical tasks
- Being frustrated and unpleasant most of the time during the day
- Speech that is spoken quickly, jumps from one notion to another, and lacks consistency in thinking
- A loss of perspective that may result in psychosis
- Excessive self-confidence and unfounded confidence in one’s talents
- Showing Obsessive behavior such as cleaning or organizing things or attempting to dominate or control others
Symptoms of the Depressed Phase
- A person going through a depressed phase could go through the following:
- Extreme melancholy or despair
- A sense of helplessness
- Lack of enthusiasm for activities they used to like
- Energy decline, a propensity to get fatigued and unmotivated quickly
- Having trouble falling asleep; sleeping excessively or not at all
- A change in appetite, difficulty eating healthily, and a considerable loss of weight without dieting
- Difficulty paying attention, recalling details, or making judgments
- Suicidal, self-destructive, or death thoughts
Types of Bipolar Disorder
The three primary forms of bipolar disorder are cyclothymia, bipolar I, and bipolar II.
A minimum of one manic episode must occur for a person to be diagnosed with bipolar I. Prior to and following the manic period, an individual can encounter major depressive episodes or hypomanic episodes, that are more intense than manic episodes. Everyone who has this kind of bipolar illness is affected, regardless of gender.
Bipolar II patients go through one severe depressive episode which typically lasts for at least two weeks. Additionally, they experience at least one hypomanic episode every four days. This kind of bipolar illness may be more prevalent among women, claims a 2017 analysis by Trusted Source.
Cyclothymia patients have periods of hypomania and sadness. The mania and depression brought on by these episodes are milder and last for a shorter period of time than those brought on by bipolar I or bipolar II illness. Most sufferers of this ailment only have periods of no mood symptoms lasting one or two months.
It is not advisable to attempt to self-diagnose. During the diagnosing process, a psychiatrist or doctor might go into greater detail regarding the type of bipolar illness one may have.
Different mood symptoms that are experienced by some people approximate these three categories but don’t exactly fit. If it applies to someone, they can be given the following diagnosis:
- Additional specific bipolar illnesses and associated conditions
- Undefined bipolar disorder and associated conditions
Let me share an experience with you where I witness someone really close to me battling with bipolar disorder.
Sometimes, my cousin acts weirdly. She briefly becomes euphoric, continues to talk about unrelated subjects, or occasionally boasts of extremely ambitious goals like establishing a business, pursuing a master’s degree overseas, planning a luxurious wedding, etc. But after a few days, she separates herself, stops communicating with anyone, and becomes incredibly silent.
She once lost control when we were at a dinner party and flung the utensils at the server because it was taking a long time and her order was still not ready. We were astounded by her actions. Similarly, once at a family function, she lashed out at an elder family member because he was coughing restlessly.
Her connections with people, studies, and employment were all impacted by her increasingly erratic conduct over time. She eventually started losing friends and relatives, and day by day, her condition began to deteriorate.
It was when she was taken to a psychiatrist that we all discovered that she is suffering from bipolar disorder. It’s been more than a couple of years. Her treatment is still going on and with the help of therapy, medications, and self-help strategies, she is doing fine now.
Self-help Strategies For Bipolar Disorder
Why do self-help techniques for bipolar disorder work?
It’s crucial to engage with an expert in mental health rather than attempting to manage bipolar illness on your own if you have been diagnosed with it. Symptoms of bipolar illness can be effectively managed with a mix of medication and psychotherapy. But you may also take an active role in your care by learning coping mechanisms you can use independently to enhance your living experience.
In conjunction with obtaining professional assistance and medication, learning coping mechanisms for use in daily life is crucial for controlling bipolar illness. Evidence has demonstrated that self-help techniques that are prepared with the support of your mental health professional may significantly improve the way your bipolar disorder is managed.
You can try a variety of self-care techniques to see if they can assist you in managing the symptoms of bipolar disorder effectively
- Find out more about bipolar disorder and keep yourself laced with knowledge regarding the condition.
The very first thing you should do if you have learned that you have bipolar disorder is to educate yourself about it. You can control your illness and speak for yourself by knowing more about what it’s like to have bipolar disorder. There is a tonne of knowledge available regarding bipolar disorder, including the fundamentals, the research, and personal accounts.
Some steps that you can take to educate yourself about the bipolar disorder are:
- Enroll in a course on bipolar (online/offline)
- Attend a workshop
- Read books and articles
- Talk to people who have gone through the same.
- Observe and keep a check on your mood.
Keep a daily journal of your mood, taking into account any potential mood-influencing elements including sleep, medicine, and life events. To assist, use a graph or an app.
- Establish a schedule and create a health plan.
Having a routine will help you maintain emotional stability. Create a timetable and make an effort to follow it no matter how you’re feeling to keep things stable.
Keep notes on your strategies for controlling your sleep and routines, handling highs and lows, and your contacts in case you require assistance. Create this health plan with the aid of your mental health practitioner, and distribute a copy to your loved ones.
- Improve Sleeping habits.
Sleep cycle disruptions can affect circadian rhythms and also have a detrimental effect on mood. Learn how to establish a sleep schedule.
Watch video to help yourself sleep peacefully: Scientific method to sleep better
- Reduce tension and enjoy some downtime.
Everyone is affected by stress, but those with bipolar illness are more vulnerable. According to research findings, life pressures including marital issues, a family member’s illness, or financial hardship might cause symptom relapses.
Refrain from taking a bite more than you can chew to reduce stress. Of course, it’s harder said than done, but it’s a crucial step to take in order to sustain self-care. Limit your exposure to stimuli and avoid taking on too many obligations.
Consider scheduling little pauses throughout the day if you’re feeling pressured. Especially when significant stressful events occur in your life, be open and honest with your coworkers, family, and support system about how you are doing and how it may influence how you manage your illness. You could also take into account attempting relaxing methods like- Tai chi breathing exercises for meditation
Watch our video: Get started with prana-vikshana (breath observance) meditation
- Create a strong network of allies and Sign up for a support group.
Your close ones can assist you in managing your daily symptoms by providing an objective assessment of your mood. Additionally, they can be there for you if you need to chat about your most trying times.
Hearing from others who are experiencing similar circumstances may be quite comforting. Support groups may be a tremendous source of guidance and solace.
- Stay away from drugs and alcohol
Avoid using drugs and alcohol. These may worsen our emotions. Addiction might make it more difficult to manage bipolar illness. It may have an impact on how successfully a patient adheres to or reacts to their care plans and according to research, it may increase their risk of hospitalization and suicide.
Studies found that between 30-50% of bipolar illness sufferers eventually develop a drug use problem. It’s crucial to comprehend how the two ailments are related and that one condition cannot get better without attending to the other. Speak with your physician if you believe that using drugs or alcohol is making it more difficult for you to manage your bipolar illness and you need advice on how to cut down or stop using them.
- Monitor your moods
Among the most difficult aspects of having bipolar disorder is the unpredictable nature of the condition. You might be able to better understand your situation if you keep a journal of frequent highs and lows.
After keeping note of your behaviors and experiences for some time, you could begin to see trends. Additionally, you may see indicators of a manic or depressed episode, such as modifications in your behaviors and energy levels
In time, you could learn to recognize when you’re going to transition from mania to depression or conversely.
- Be active and engage in exercise.
According to research, a little stroll outside may reduce the impacts of stress and boost resilience. However, getting up and going out to take that initial step might be challenging. Approximately two out of every three bipolar patients have usually sedentary lifestyles.
Exercise is a fantastic way to improve mood and has been shown to help people with bipolar disorder: it helps reduce the symptoms of depression and enhance people’s quality of life. Try to include some form of exercise nearly every day, even if it’s only a quick stroll around the block. To help you stay motivated, pick an activity you enjoy. You may rely on people to help you stay to your plan and give your workout a social component.
- Identify and watch out for your early warning signals and triggers
Understanding your triggers will enable you to foresee how a circumstance will affect you. By doing this, you can also lessen your risk of experiencing a severe mood episode like mania or depression. Start by recalling any minor or early indications you have ever had before of a manic, hypomanic, or depressive episode.
You can ponder the following questions:
- Was I agitated the previous several days?
- Is my level of fatigue more than usual?
- Is it hard for me to focus right now?
- Was my normal amount of sleep different?
There can also be certain circumstances that in the past caused a mood crisis. Different people react differently to the same causes. Realizing what impacts you the most might be beneficial for this reason. You might require further assistance at this time. You may take action and manage bipolar illness effectively by identifying the trigger.
Download our free worksheet to get started with the journey of speedy recovery from Bipolar Disorder.