Just because you have bipolar disorder doesn’t mean you can’t live a happy, healthy, and productive life. In fact, otherwise content celebrities such as Mariah Carey, Demi Lovato, and Russel Brand deal with the condition on a regular basis.
Despite having successful careers, they’ve had to develop effective coping mechanisms for their mental health issues. But learning to cope with bipolar disorder isn’t always easy, and it sometimes requires professional help. It also involves understanding what the condition is (and isn’t).
What is bipolar disorder?
This is a relatively common mental health disorder that affects about three million people each year. It’s generally managed with variable treatment options like talk therapy, group therapy, and medication. Meanwhile, bipolar disorder (BPD) can be a lifelong condition, which means it affects all aspects of a person’s life. Thus, combined approaches are often necessary.
Bipolar disorder is characterized by frequent episodes of manic high and low moods. A person’s demeanor and countenance can change rapidly and without much warning, causing a mixture of depression and anxiety or elation and excitement. Typically, those episodes are triggered by often unknown stimuli, making it even more difficult to manage.
The primary causes of bipolar mood swings
Each person with bipolar disorder has a unique set of triggers which can cause a mood swing. For some, it may be a simple word, gesture, or circumstance that sets them off. For others, mood swings may be triggered by less noticeable and/or internal phenomenon. Either way, mood changes can range from very slight to extremely drastic depending on the person and the situation.
Moreover, certain genetic factors may also play a role in bipolar disorder or the manifestation thereof. Environment, brain structure, diet, and lifestyle can lead to mental health issues as well, although individuals with this disorder most often demonstrate a chemical imbalance. Therefore, most people develop effective coping skills to manage the symptoms without disrupting their lives.
How does bipolar disorder affect your life?
BPD involves many distinct symptoms which can reduce the quality of your life and even hinder your most important relationships. That’s because it involves bouts of high energy followed by depressed states. It’s an unpredictable amalgamation of low motivation or lack of interest with extreme enthusiasm or borderline obsession. As such, it can be hard to maintain a relationship without easy coping mechanisms.
The 5 best coping mechanisms for bipolar disorder
Your best therapeutic approaches for BPD should always stem from your unique understanding of how it affects your daily life. If it ever becomes unmanageable, never rely on simple coping mechanisms to make you feel better. But while things are still relatively controllable, here’s what you can do to stop them from getting worse:
#1. Create a routine and stick to it.
When your surroundings are predictable, your mind will respond with calmness. Daily routines help your brain know what’s it doing next, thereby making it easier to handle problems that pop up out of nowhere. So, make a schedule and try to stick to it as much as you can, even through your mood swings.
#2. Try to keep your sleep schedule balanced.
Lack of sleep can have many negative effects on your physical and mental health. In fact, studies have shown a direct correlation between sleep deprivation and bouts of mania. That means you’re more susceptible to bipolar mood swings when you wake up tired in the morning.
#3. Eat foods that support hormone health.
Diet can dictate how your brain reacts to certain stimuli and stressors. Research shows that certain foods actually support neurological and hormonal health, making the symptoms of bipolar disorder less prevalent. So, eat a balanced diet full of fruits, veggies, fish, and whole grains if you can.
#4. Make some time to play around a bit.
They say laughter is the best medicine, and it certainly help manage the symptoms of bipolar disorder. When you’re feeling blue, try to find ways to have fun instead of soaking in the sadness. Positive, uplifting mindsets can also help you focus on what’s really important instead of what’s bothering you.
#5. Keep a record of your mood swings.
Look at yourself objectively to determine your triggers and observe the way you handle your emotions during bipolar episodes. Then, use that information to track your progress, see patterns of behavior, and uncover better coping mechanisms for you and/or the people in your life.
Meanwhile, if you or someone you love suffers from bipolar disorder or the life-altering effects thereof but cannot find solace with these coping mechanisms, seek professional help from a mental health counselor as soon as possible. To get a head start on your treatment, take a test to see how many of the symptoms you’re already experiencing.
Bipolar disorder symptoms can range from moderate to severe, with some of the side effects causing major damage to a person’s life. But you can still be happy, healthy, and successful despite your diagnosis. By learning effective coping mechanisms and seeking professional help when it’s needed, you’ll protect your positive state of mind and more easily achieve goals without guilt.
About the author
Marie Miguel has been a writing and research expert for nearly a decade, covering a variety of health- related topics. Currently, she is contributing to the expansion and growth of a free online mental health resource with Mind-Diagnostics.org. With an interest and dedication to addressing stigmas associated with mental health, she continues to specifically target subjects related to anxiety and depression.