Flipboard Magazine

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Managing Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar describes a mood disorder in the bipolar spectrum: a range of abnormal energy levels mixed with varying depressive episodes, rapid cycling of each, or episodes of each separated by normal mood. Manic periods can be characterized by delusions and hallucinations. Categorically subdivided into bipolar I, bipolar II, cyclothymia, and bipolar not otherwise specified, it is also known as manic-depressive disorder, manic depression, and bipolar affective disorder. Keeping symptoms to a minimum requires personal involvement in a management plan. Many bipolar people live productive lives because they monitor their symptoms and get the help they need. Management of any disorder requires lifestyle changes and often, medication. Family and friends can get involved in managing a loved one's bipolar disorder through education and participation in bipolar support groups, tharapy, and crisis services.

Stressful events, even minor ones, can contribute to a bipolar episode. It is difficult for some bipolar people to get regular sleep; however, this is a major goal to put into a bipolar management plan, as is abstaining from alcohol or drug use. Substance use or abuse, even alcohol in small amounts can throw the body system off rhythm. It is important to stay on schedule with medications and let your doctor know whether you have any physical conditions that may be affecting your mental status. Attend a support or therapy group regularly and share your feelings with a friend or significant other. Set up a crisis management system to help yourself and others when you cannot control your actions such as have crisis center phone numbers handy, have financial restraints if you tend too spend too much money, and a drug and/or alcohol intervention plan.

Wellness activities can make a huge difference in the way you feel physically and mentally, and sharpen your focus. Yoga or more vigorous exercise can reduce stress. Learn problem-solving skills from your friends, your support group, or your doctor. Develop a hobby that keeps your mind occupied and helps you focus. You can also write a daily journal about your feelings and challenges and keep a daily planner to help keep you on track. Eating healthier food will also help you feel better overall. Go outside every day and enjoy nature and try to avoid stressful situations. Make a note of them so you will recognize them. Everyday occurences are sometimes very stressful, like changes in the seasons, illness, and holidays. These are things you have no control over. Death, disagreements, problems, finances, and life changes also cause stress and can be a priority in a stress management system. Noting how you react to stress and having a plan to handle it can make a huge difference in managing your life overall. Keeping a chart of your moods and methods of dealing with them can be a way of making your plan concrete.

To sum it up, you can live a full, productive life with bipolar disorder with careful planning. Staying on schedule with your lifestyle plan, medications, and therapy is the key to feeling better. Once you learn methods of coping with stress and change in therapy or a support group, you can practice until it becomes second nature. Recognizing when you need to get help for a crisis and keeping your family members and friends updated on treatment and your moods can also keep you on track. If you work, try to get a job with a flexible schedule and an understanding boss. When you have energy highs, you can do tasks that require high production, and when you are low in energy, do tasks that don't require as much energy. Computer programming, software testing, writing, and working at home might be some options for employment. The best thing to remember is that we all have ups and downs and make mistakes. When you fall off schedule, pick yourself up, repair any damages, and keep on going.

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