Bipolar disorder is a serious mental health condition that affects 2 million Americans today. It’s characterized by both manic (e.g., need for less sleep, high energy, losing touch with reality) and depressive (e.g., lack of energy, lack of motivation, loss of interest in daily activities, suicidal thoughts) episodes. These episodes can last anywhere from days to months at a time, but there are ways that a person can lessen the impact of the disorder on themselves and their lives.
Avoiding Substance Abuse
Unfortunately, those with bipolar disorder are more prone to substance abuse (60% of patients face this issue in comparison to 15% of the general population). This is because the disorder’s cycling causes one to want to “self-medicate.” However, when you’re manic, you find yourself craving more of everything to accentuate your “high” feeling. Therefore you may need substance abuse treatment along with medication to help stabilize your mood.
Learning Self-Management Skills
Developing a substance abuse disorder isn’t the right way to manage your life. There are many other things you can do to manage your bipolar disorder. One of the most crucial tools you can learn for yourself is how to track your moods. When you objectively rate and record your daily mood and how much sleep you’ve had, you’ll recognize patterns that trigger your highs and lows.
You also need to learn how to identify anything that triggers stress. For instance, research has shown that being deprived of a night’s sleep can cause manic symptoms while experiences of loss or rejection can cause depression, and family conflict can cause relapse. You need to be aware of these things and learn how to cope with them.
Learning to accept your illness is also important. This is a serious diagnosis, so you can’t simply take medication for a while and then stop taking it suddenly. Doing so can result in a relapse or worse. This is something that psychotherapy can help you learn to accept. You will also learn how to manage your illness both behaviorally and physiologically properly.
A Word About Psychotherapy
Research shows that there are three types of therapy that patients benefit from here. They are:
- Family-focused therapy brings together both the patient and their family. Herein they learn about the disorder, how to communicate better, and improve problem-solving skills.
- Social Rhythm and Interpersonal therapy help patients learn how to manage their sleep-wake cycles and regulate their daily-living routines.
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy helps patients restructure their unduly optimistic cognitions and their pessimistic thinking.
Managing Workplace Issues
Many people who have bipolar disorder can’t work a predictable schedule. They need more flexible jobs or the option to work from home. Additionally, many people struggle with whether they should tell their co-workers about the disorder. The only real benefit of telling coworkers is that they can recognize your early signs of cycling and point them out to you.
Reclaiming Your Life
Once you have your mood cycles under control, it’s time to work on reclaiming your life. While you may no longer have symptoms of bipolar disorder, you may still have other issues, such as substance abuse, that make it difficult to live a “normal” life. You may also still find yourself dealing with residual cognitive problems (e.g., memory, attention, vigilance, concentration), or your medications are affecting your cognitive functioning. You may also find that after a manic episode, you suffer from mild or moderate depression. This makes it more difficult for you to function at the same level you did before the episode.
Whether you’re suffering from bipolar disorder alone or with substance abuse issues, we want you to know that at TMS Advantage Clearwater, we’re here for you. Get in touch with us today to set up an appointment.
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