Tuesday, June 26, 2012

How to Reduce Bipolar Disorder Mood Swings

Art Created by Bipolar Patient
In a recent post, I described certain behaviors that help stabilize my moods. I thought that this was important enough information to feature in a distinct post, so here it is.

Get On and Stay On Effective Meds
Getting diagnosed and on the right medication is the single most important thing that someone with bipolar disorder can do to stabilize mood. Getting on the right meds is easier said than done, but well worth the effort. Click here for information on the bipolar meds I'm currently on.

Still meds aren't magic. Although they can reduce the severity of mood swings, they don't typically make mood swings completely disappear. A patient's behavior can also influence mood. I know, from experience, that some of my mood swings are impacted by my response, once I feel the swing coming. 

Behaviors That Impact Depression
If I feel depression approaching, I know that there are thought processes and behaviors I can engage in that make depression more likely, such as...
  • Sleeping a lot
  • Isolating myself/withdrawing
  • Drinking alcohol
  • Focusing on negative thoughts and memories 
  • Not reliably taking my meds for depression (Wellbutrin)
...as well as thought processes and behaviors that can help me avoid or reduce a plummet in mood:
  • Pull my butt out of bed and do something enjoyable (for me, that's usually gardening). I know that when depressed, everything is less enjoyable. But making an effort helps.
  • Socialize or at least reach out to one friend 
  • Reduce alcohol consumption
  • Spend a little time every day thinking about all the things I am grateful for
  • Take bipolar meds exactly as directed

Behaviors That Impact Mania & Hypomania
The same is true with mania. The following behaviors will very often trigger or worsen my hypomanic symptoms:
  • Lack of sleep
  • Being over-sheduled
  • Stress from being over-scheduled
  • Too much caffeine
  • Not taking my meds for managing mania (Seroquel)
While the opposite behaviors will often help me head off mania:
  • Get enough sleep  
  • Eliminate non-essential tasks from to-do list
  • Drink decaf or 1/2 caf coffee or sometimes tea if I feel I need to reduce my caffeine levels. Black tea has about 1/2 the caf as regular coffee. Green and white tea have very little caffeine.
  • Take bipolar meds exactly as directed
Taking these measures doesn't always work, but usually has some degree of impact on where my mood is headed. Getting physical exercise is also very helpful for managing all aspects of bipolar, both the ups and downs.

Oops! I better take my Wellbutrin right now :)

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