Bipolar Disorder: Symptoms, Relief, and More
What’s bipolar disorder?
Euphoric (or extremely elevated) or irritable mood and increased energy or activity for one week (or more) that displays 3 out of 7 symptoms of Mania including social or work impairment, followed by one-two weeks of a depressive episode. Usually, depressive episodes occur as well, typically lasting at least 2 weeks. Episodes of depression with mixed features (having depression and manic symptoms at the same time) are also possible.
What are possible symptoms of Mania?
- Decreased Sleep
- Racing thoughts
- Increased goal-oriented activity
What are possible symptoms of Depression?
- Interest Loss
- Guilt or Worthlessness
- Energy Loss
- Concentration Loss
- Appetite Change
- Psychomotor Agitation or Persistent Irritability
- Sleep Change
- Suicidal Thoughts
- Low Self-Esteem
Note, there are several types of bipolar disorder:
- Bipolar I Disorder— defined by manic episodes that last at least 7 days, or by manic symptoms that are so severe that the person needs immediate hospital care. Usually, depressive episodes occur as well, typically lasting at least 2 weeks. Episodes of depression with mixed features (having depression and manic symptoms at the same time) are also possible.
- Bipolar II Disorder— defined by a pattern of depressive episodes and hypomanic episodes, but not the full-blown manic episodes described above.
- Cyclothymic Disorder (also called cyclothymia)— defined by numerous periods of hypomanic symptoms as well numerous periods of depressive symptoms lasting for at least 2 years (1 year in children and adolescents). However, the symptoms do not meet the diagnostic requirements for a hypomanic episode and a depressive episode.
What are some things I can do that’ll provide relief?
- Remind yourself that racing thoughts are not true, just part of the illness
- Journal your symptoms and experiences
- Practice mindfulness and being present
- Create a routine/structure and stick to a strict sleep schedule
- Avoid any mind-altering substances, including alcohol
- Create feelings of accomplishment and being productive
- Educate yourself on bipolar to be able to better understand yourself
- Exercise frequently and avoid sitting for long periods of time
- Don’t isolate yourself, but spend time with supportive friends or family members
- Make time to relax a priority and enjoy leisure time
- Eat a healthy diet and get your omega-3’s
- Get involved in your community through volunteering and/or mentoring
- Work on having consistency with your schedule of socialization with supportive people
- Working on learning de-stressing skills
- Finding things to do that help you express your creativity
What are some medical interventions that can help me?
- Seeing a Psychiatrist
- Naturopathic Medicine
- Intensive Outpatient Group Counseling including DBT therapy
- Inpatient Hospitalization (if needed for stabilization)
- Magnesium and Vitamin D (Mayo Clinic)
- Diet and Exercise
- Working on Sleep Hygiene and a structured sleep schedule
- Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction
These techniques do not replace medical advice. Speak with your healthcare practitioner if you think you are suffering with depression. The DSM-5 strives to conceptualize an illness as a spectrum, with a domain that should be construed as normal.