Bipolar Disorder: Symptoms, Treatment and Diagnosis
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How To Keep Symptoms Of Bipolar Disorder In Check

Mental Wellbeing
Pramod Manglik
4 min read

How To Keep Symptoms Of Bipolar Disorder In Check

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Bipolar disorder is characterised by dramatic changes in a person's energy and mood, ranging from highs of mania to the nadirs of depression.

Bipolar disorder can affect an individual of any gender, age, and ethnicity. It is usually common either in young adulthood or late adolescence. Thanks to research and increased awareness, we now know that it can be kept in check and victims of such disorder can lead a happy life.

Symptoms

Here are the common symptoms of bipolar disorder, experienced by its patients. These can be broadly divided into phases:


During the phase of mania:
  • Excessive talking; racing thoughts
  • Unusual energy; less need for sleep
  • Inflated self-esteem
  • Feeling of euphoria
  • Impulsiveness, reckless pursuit of gratification- impetuous travel, shopping sprees, and promiscuous sex (occasionally), fast driving, high-risk business investments, et cetera.
During the phase of depression:
  • Extreme sadness
  • Loss of energy
  • Irritability
  • Feeling of despair
  • Loss of interest
  • Suicidal thoughts


Treatment

A three-pronged strategy may be useful to keep the disorder in check:


1) Medications: Taking medicines regularly is extremely important. Medications for bipolar disorder come with their own set of risks. Any careless implementation may spell further complications for the patients. Hence, follow these guidelines for their relatively safer usage:
  • Throw away expired medications or those that you aren’t using anymore, if there are any.
  • Take your bipolar medication, as prescribed by your psychiatrist. For this, you can use a daily reminder system to make sure you are taking all of the necessary medications ON TIME!
  • Record your mood swings while taking your medicines. Pay attention to the timing and duration of their occurrences, as well as their severity. Also, remember to intimate your psychiatrist regularly with such developments. Only he can make appropriate replacement, addition or removal of some of the drugs.
  • Discontinue or reduce the use of alcohol. It is a depressant and makes recovery even more difficult. Moreover, alcohol can also interfere with the way your medication works.
  • On the same lines, ask your doctor if there are certain foods and beverages (as alcohol, discussed above) that you should be more careful about, when taking your medications.
  • Also, remember that medications work best when you are making other healthy choices. Take a healthy diet, incorporate regimens of exercise, ranging from moderate to near heavy ones, daily into your lifestyle.
2) Psychotherapy: Doctors may recommend psychotherapy to help the patient build workable strategies to cope with daily stress elements. Even then, there is a large scope for the patients to address their malady first on their own. Hence, some of these methods have been discussed here:
  • Go for a walk with your buddy.
  • Meet new people by joining a hobby class or club.
  • Accompany someone to movies, concerts, or social gatherings.
  • Have lunch or coffee with a friend.
  • Talk to someone person about your feelings.
  • Help someone else by volunteering.
  • Join a bipolar disorder support group.
  • And if none of these works, ask a counsellor, or a therapist to help you out.


 

3) Lifestyle changes: These include maintaining a proper routine, including physical exercise, dietary changes, and regular sleep cycle. For further clearance, a list of such measures are given below:
  • Building a strict daily regimen for your to-do list and following it religiously may help in making the mood swings uniform. Hence, determine fixed timings and durations for activities like eating, sleeping, exercising, working, socialising, and relaxing. Try your best to follow these, even in the events of emotional ups and downs.
  • Arrest growth of stress , as early as possible. Embrace proper techniques for it, from relaxing to prioritising time for leisure, above any other responsibility. Proper techniques of deep breathing, yoga, and meditation can be highly effective at lowering your stress. Similarly, taking time out for leisure would also help in expediting recovery of your mental, as well as your physical aspects. Moreover, you can indulge in watching movies or listening to the music of your choice.
  • Audit your eating habits. Make the widest room for fresh fruits, wholegrains, and vegetables in your platter- the larger it is, the better. Severely, limit your intake of sugar and fat foods. Moreover, break your meals with durations ensuring that your blood sugar levels do not dip too low. Have food rich in Omega 3 fatty acids, as it is widely believed to regulate mood swings in bipolar disorder. Halibut, sardines, and salmons, flax seeds, soybeans, canola oil, walnuts, and pumpkin seeds should be consumed. And lastly, avoid consuming drugs and alcohol. Drugs like amphetamines and cocaine are much likely to provoke mania, whereas, alcohol and tranquilisers can incite depression.

Additional Tips to Manage Bipolar Disorder


  • Going to sleep and waking up at a fixed time each day.
  • Minimise or avoid taking a nap, particularly if it disturbs your sleep pattern at night.
  • Instead of indulging in stimulating activities like viewing screens or others, before going to bed, try taking a bath. You can also try listening to soft music or reading a book.
  • Limit alcohol at night and caffeine after lunch, as both influence your sleep only for worse consequences.
And, If Nothing Works

It may happen that even most of your sincere efforts to control the disorder fail. Hence, keep a rescue course ready. Such times of crises may leave you feeling out of control and helpless. You can write the following details on a paper and intimate your family members to manage the situation accordingly.

Typically, such a rescue plan may have:
  • A list of all medicines you are taking, along with information on dosage.
  • A record of people to be contacted during emergency – your therapist, doctor, near and dear ones.
  • A list of symptoms, indicating the methods and care required by you, thereafter. You may also include other problems pertaining to your health.
  • A catalogue suggesting preferable therapists, doctors or even choicest family members, whom you want to take care of you. You may also mention the medications and treatments that work (or do not work) for you.
Dr P K Manglik is a Psychiatrist. He is also a Health Council Member at Healthhunt.

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