Bipolar disorder? 11 Tips To Make Life More Tolerable

Narcissistic Personality Disorder

Bipolar disorder or manic-depressive disorder is a mood disorder that causes unusual shifts in mood, energy level, and ability to function normally.

In people who suffer from this disorder, periods of depression and low energy alternate with periods of hypomania or mania, where there can be enormous amounts of energy and euphoria. Periods of normal mood may also be experienced in between.

Bipolar disorder can be divided into four basic types. In all these types you will find clear mood swings and a change in the energy balance.

Bipolar I Disorder

Defined by manic episodes lasting at least seven days, or by manic symptoms that become very severe for the individual and those affected. A mania is characterized by an exuberant, euphoric mood where everything looks rosy.

The person is restless, hyperactive and thinks at lightning speed. He seems to jump from one piece to the next.

However, the person often feels that other people cannot follow him and thus are too slow to understand.

A disgruntled mania can also occur, where the person seems to be angry at everything and everyone.

He is then overactive, restless, has an accelerated train of thought but, unlike the normal manic period, he is not cheerful, but rather anxious, irritable, angry or depressed.

This is very similar to the mixed episodes, in which both depressive and manic features are present at the same time. Depressive episodes also happen, and last for at least two weeks.

Bipolar II Disorder

Defined by major depressive and hypomanic episodes, but not reaching the more severe manic episodes such as Bipolar I Disorder.

Cyclothymic Disorder

When depressive episodes alternate with periods tending to hypomania, but never really depression or mania, and this for at least two years, then it is called a Cyclothymic Disorder. This can progress to bipolar disorder in some cases.

Other Specified and Unspecified Bipolar and Related Disorders: All disorders in which bipolar symptoms occur but do not fit into the above categories.

Living With Bipolar Disorder

Living with bipolar disorder can be very confronting. You are, as it were, labeled as ‘abnormal’ and often even as ‘crazy’.

People also experience bipolar disorder very differently according to their own level of development and much seems to depend on the past traumas they are still dealing with.

For example, someone who can understand his condition reasonably and who has experienced few traumatic events will experience bipolar disorder differently than someone else who has just experienced severe trauma.

The duration, nature and weight of the complaints can also differ enormously from person to person.

In many cases it has a huge impact on the social, professional and physical life of the patient.

Those involved can also suffer greatly from the consequences of these mood swings and their pain and commitment should certainly not be forgotten.

Characteristics of Bipolar Disorder

People with bipolar disorder experience periods of unusually intense emotions where their sleep patterns, activity levels, and behavior change.

These clearly identifiable periods have their own characteristics and are very different from the moods and behaviors that normally characterize the person.

During a manic episode, people may:

  • Feeling very elated or euphoric
  • Feeling a lot of energy
  • Show increased activity
  • Talking a lot
  • Have little or no need for sleep
  • Having an accelerated train of thought
  • Having an increased libido
  • Be much more creative than usual
  • fall in love fast
  • Showing heightened and sometimes exaggerated interest in spirituality
  • Making ill-considered decisions
  • Taking risks in all areas (including money)
  • Having a hole in their hand
  • Having an inflated sense of self
  • hallucinate
  • Get irritated easily
  • Thinking you know everything better

Due to lack of sleep and mental exhaustion, a manic period often leads to exhaustion.

This in itself can lead to psychosis or very aggressive behaviour. At this point, many people are admitted voluntarily or forcibly.

During a depressive episode, people can:

  • Feeling very sad and listless
  • Have little or no energy
  • Difficulty getting out of bed
  • Feeling extremely helpless
  • having suicidal thoughts
  • Show a decreased activity
  • Feeling worried or empty
  • Not well remembered
  • having suicidal thoughts
  • Eating too much or too little
  • Having poor concentration
  • despise oneself

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Causes of Bipolar Disorder

The exact cause of bipolar disorder is unknown, but several factors may be involved, such as:

  • Biochemical : Some studies show how certain biochemical factors play a role. For example, a shortage or an abundance of noradrenaline, serotonin and dopamine in the body has an important link with mood swings. Exactly why that deficiency or abundance occurs requires further investigation.
  • Genetic : Bipolar disorder is more common if a first-degree relative also suffers from the disorder, such as a father or sister. Here too, insufficient research has been done to provide a conclusive answer.
  • Psychoanalytic: Trauma during certain developmental stages can lead to a susceptibility to bipolar behavior.
  • Others

How to Treat Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar cannot be cured just by taking a pill every day, because trauma, level of consciousness, and other psychoanalytic factors play such a large role in the personal experience of it.

It is so complex that it almost always requires professional help.

It is therefore important that the person seeks reliable and appropriate help. This will usually be in the form of a psychiatrist.

Long-term treatment focuses on preventing the depressive and manic episodes. Usually the following elements will be part of the treatment:

  • education,
  • psychotherapy
  • medication

Whether medication should always be on the agenda is still controversial. Each case is different, and some individuals are strong enough to manage the disorder with just psychotherapy and lifestyle changes. Trust your healthcare provider for this judgment.

Medication is used to prevent psychosis and to treat a severe manic episode.

Mood stabilizers are also used. Antidepressants are rarely used to a large extent because they can trigger the manic episode.

Coping With Bipolar disorder?

You can achieve a lot yourself. You can look at bipolar disorder as if it were a curse, or you can try to embrace its lessons.

Perhaps by dealing with it you will develop certain skills that you would never have had otherwise.

It’s called a disorder, but it’s actually a challenge. It can teach you to take care of yourself, to find out what is good for you, physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually.

The following tips can help you make life with bipolar disorder more bearable:

Tip #1 Acknowledge your own disorder

It is important to get to know and recognize your state of mind the best. For example, you can keep a mood log, in which you write or draw every day how your mood is and what you are thinking about.

In this way you become familiar with the signals that may precede a manic or depressive period and then you can react in time.

Also trust the signals of those involved. You are not alone in living with bipolar disorder. You can also tell from the reactions of others whether you are on your way back to one or the other extreme.

Sidenote: Every individual is different, just like every society is different. Similarly, for many people it may be relieving not to see this condition as a disorder that fits into a few pages of a psychiatric work.

In shamanic cultures, for example, the psychotic or manic episodes would be viewed with more respect without wanting to immediately paralyze them with pills.

Regardless of the treatment method followed, it can be very healing not to look purely rationally at the “disease” as something that needs to be suppressed or erased.

Putting the condition in the right direction by changing your lifestyle, working through unhealed traumas and relying on outside help seems like a healthier way of thinking.

Tip #2 Develop a daily routine

Routine in your life is healthy. Our hormonal system also depends on the sleep-wake rhythm. When we crawl under the wool at a decent hour every day and get enough sleep, we wake up rested in the morning.

During a manic period, for example, you sleep far too little on average, while a depressive period causes too much sleep. That way it becomes difficult to create a fixed routine.

It was shown in a study of 175 adults with bipolar disorder that following a daily routine delayed the manic and depressive episodes for much longer.

Life with bipolar disorder can be very chaotic. Following a routine such as getting up (in the same order) every day, wishing something positive, brushing your teeth, making tea, etc. can be extremely helpful in creating the most stable environment possible for yourself and your loved ones.

Tip #3 Keep stress to a minimum

Stress is a culprit for your body, your emotions and your raging thoughts.

If you’ve been living with bipolar disorder for a while, you’ve certainly noticed a correlation between the symptoms of your disorder and the level of stress you’re experiencing. You may even remember the stressor that caused you to have your first episode ever.

People with bipolar disorder are more sensitive to stress. Stress can also trigger manic and depressive episodes.

If you try to deal with stress from unhealthy uses, such as alcohol and drugs, you become much more vulnerable to relapse.

Remember that stress can make you take better care of yourself, not eat well, sleep too little, neglect your routines, start raging in your head, etc. These are all factors that can leave you vulnerable to a relapse .

Tip #4 Follow a healthy diet

A healthy diet provides your body and brain with enough nutrients to function properly.

This helps to reduce the severity and frequency of a relapse. It also helps to prevent or reduce weight gain.

Your diet should include the following elements:

  • Fresh fruits, including apples, berries, and bananas
  • Dark leafy greens like spinach and kale
  • Legumes, such as beans, lentils, and peas
  • Whole-wheat products
  • Fatty fish such as salmon and cod
  • Organic milk products
  • free range eggs
  • Green tea
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Dark chocolate (70 percent cocoa or more)

Foods to avoid:

  • Red meat
  • White flower
  • Processed food
  • Products with a lot of sugar
  • Very fatty products such as fried food
  • Sweets

Tip #5 Take enough omega 3 fatty acids

Several studies have shown that the unsaturated omega-3 fatty acids found in fish and fish oil have a positive influence on the symptoms of bipolar disorder. Wild fish is the richest source of these omega 3 fatty acids.

Tip #6 Avoid alcohol and drugs

Alcohol and drugs are not recommended in bipolar disorder for several reasons.

Obviously, ingesting mind-altering chemicals doesn’t exactly help to achieve mental stability. With all recreational drugs, a kind of “high” is experienced.

That’s why people do it. After every climax that is reached by an external means there is always a moment of coming back down, which can cause melancholy.

Alcohol and certain drugs remove inhibitions. During a high, people feel freer and sometimes more elated.

People who suffer from bipolar disorder are more likely to enter a manic episode and therefore find it even more difficult to control themselves.

It seems that alcohol is the lubricant for the wheels of the hypomania and the cart goes faster and faster…

Reckless behavior is often linked to bipolar disorder. This is also linked to alcoholism. Drinking alcohol can make this kind of behavior much worse.

Tip #7 Avoid overloading

It is good to know yourself. What can I handle? What makes me upset? At what times does it become too much? Prevention is better than cure.

Are you easily persuaded to do more than you can handle? Then seek help to see together when exactly you are crossing the line and how you can avoid this.

Sidenote: Some situations make it extra difficult to guard your boundaries. For example, if your environment is actually not good for you.

Your friends may enjoy going out and drinking a lot, but if you know that the outcome is always catastrophic for you after a night out like that, it’s probably worth taking a step back from those unhealthy influences.

Tip #8 Fun and relaxation

As mentioned, this ‘disorder’ is actually a condition that you try to deal with in the best way you can.

Remember, you deserve fun and relaxation just as much as anyone else.

People who know you well may be heartbroken when they see you laughing profusely because they think you’re back on that hypomanic rollercoaster, but don’t let that “steady” mood become a straitjacket.

Sidenote: Meditation can be very helpful here. By meditating you learn to be separate from your own thoughts. Over time, by witnessing your own train of thought, you also begin to recognize rather depressing or just exaggerated thoughts.

By not identifying with them because you perceive them “from the outside”, it also becomes easier not to go along with them and thus slow down an approaching depressed or manic period.

Tip #9 Contact with fellow sufferers

Contact with fellow sufferers is very helpful in many cases. On the many forums and websites about bipolar disorder, fellow sufferers can tell each other about their experiences and feelings. This can help you feel less lonely and “abnormal”.

Tip #10 Talk to family and friends

Support from family and friends is essential to stay happy and healthy. A good chat with a trustworthy person can do wonders to keep your spirits up and even climb out of the depressive episode.

People you talk to don’t need to have the skills to “cure” you, they just need to be a good listener. It is therefore also important not to isolate yourself.

Sidenote: Isolation and loneliness contribute to feelings of depression, so regular contact with helpful friends and family members can be therapeutic in itself.

Tip #11 Seek professional help

Professional treatment for bipolar disorder can give you the opportunity to lead a free and productive life, without those annoying mood swings and insecurities.

Effective treatment can eliminate most symptoms and reduce the intensity of manic and depressive episodes so that you can function in your daily life.

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