Individuals with bipolar disorder, formerly called manic depression, struggle with unusual mood swings, thinking, and behavior. Unfortunately, the treatment for bipolar is not “one-size fits all.”
Over the past 30 years, medication has proven to be successful in managing bipolar symptoms. Lithium, Zyprexa, and Abilify are some of the most common medications used to manage bipolar symptoms. Speak to your doctor about which medication is right for you.
Anyone who has ever experienced the pitfalls of the ups and downs of mania and depression will likely agree that proper psychiatric care is vital to managing bipolar symptoms. Part of this care includes medication management.
Beyond medication, lifestyle choices can make a profound impact in managing bipolar. Intentional decisions around exercise, diet, and sleep are proven factors that greatly improve mental stability.
Medication paired with daily exercise, diets rich in omega-3 fatty acids, and regular sleep can greatly boost the management of bipolar symptoms. On the flip side, stress can induce both mania and depression.
Those who are diagnosed as bipolar are either referred to as bipolar I indicating long periods of mania or depression – or bipolar II demonstrating rapid mood swings between mania and depression, and “mixed states.”
Symptoms of mania may include:
- Rapid speech
- Racing thoughts
- Sudden increase in energy; loss of desire for sleep
- Irrational and impulsive decision making
- Sharp increase in financial spending
- Feelings of grandiosity; thinking of oneself as God, or Superhuman
Symptoms of depression may include:
- Loss of enjoyment in life
- Extreme fatigue
- Inability to get out of bed; sleeping excessively
- Suicidal thoughts or ideation
If you have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder or are experiencing any of the above symptoms, incorporating the following steps should help you feel better.
Daily exercise helps to improve mood. It doesn’t have to be an intense workout. Walking for just 30 minutes everyday can improve your bipolar symptoms. Exercise is a great stress reliever as it can work out tension. Stress can trigger both mania and depression, so managing stress helps to manage your bipolar symptoms.
Exercising daily can help you get out of a depressive slump. Exercise releases serotonin in your body. Serotonin is linked to happiness, and a positive outlook on life.
Exercise can also reduce excess energy levels. This can be helpful if your bipolar leans towards mania. A walk in the evening can help reduce excess energy and can help you fall a sleep faster. Just make sure you don’t exercise right before bedtime.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Though it is not scientifically proven, Omega 3 Fatty acids are generally agreed upon in the mental health community to stabilize moods.
Omega-3 fatty acids are found in most fish such as tuna and salmon. You may find that eating less red meat, and more lean fish may help to stabilize your moods. Adding a fish oil tablet twice a day on top of eating a high Omega-3 diet can increase your mental stability that much more.
The importance of regular, and restful sleep can never be overstated. The National Sleep Association recommends that everyone get between 8 and 10 hours of sleep nightly. This is especially important if you are bipolar.
If you have trouble falling asleep, try putting away all electronic screens such as tv’s, computers, and mobile devices thirty minutes before bedtime. Electronic screens omit what is called “blue light.” This is an artificial UV light that can make it hard to fall asleep.
Try reading a book instead. Reading is a great tool to relax and calm your mind. Doing so can help you fall asleep faster, and get a more restful sleep.
Cut Back on Caffeine and Alcohol
Reducing caffeine and alcohol intake can also help with management of bipolar symptoms. Caffeine is a stimulant. Too much caffeine can trigger symptoms of mania. Alcohol is a depressant. Drinking too much can cause serious depression bouts that can be tough to get out of.
Try these suggestions along with your prescribed medication. If you find them helpful, or if you have any additional suggestions on how to better manage bipolar symptoms beyond medication – leave a comment below, and connect with us on Facebook.