Managing Bipolar Disorder Beyond Medication
About 2.8% of adults living in the United States are struggling with bipolar disorder, and 83% of those cases are severe. These individuals are dealing with extreme shifts in mood and energy in a world that is constantly on the move.
Living with bipolar disorder these days can seem impossible, but there are ways of managing bipolar disorder. Other than prescriptions, experts of the disorder and people living with it have discovered multiple ways of treating the symptoms.
To learn more about bipolar disorder treatment and what you can do, keep reading.
What Is Bipolar Disorder?
A patient with bipolar disorder experiences extreme mood shifts from times of depression to times of mania. Patients and providers may refer to depression and mania as “low” and “high” moods, respectfully.
Both the lows and the highs can be destructive to one’s well-being.
Depression can send them into a period of time where they cannot function adequately to perform their daily activities of life. On the other hand, mania can make them work so hard that they aren’t caring for themselves in the process. Both depression and mania can lead to harmful decisions and reckless actions.
If you believe that this may describe you, you should try our bipolar disorder self-test.
Unfortunately, there is no cure for bipolar disorder. However, there are a few ways of managing bipolar disorder symptoms.
Managing Bipolar Disorder Symptoms
Along with medication recommendations, lifestyle changes can lead to positive changes in those living with bipolar disorder. There are plenty of behaviors and habits that you can pick up if you’re struggling with bipolar disorder symptoms.
The number one thing to keep in mind is that you’re different than everyone else. Something that works for one person with bipolar disorder may not work for another. So, you should make sure to evaluate how each of these habits is affecting you personally.
Like other people with chronic diseases, those with bipolar disorder need to pay attention to the foods that they’re eating.
Often, patients with bipolar disorder have trouble following a consistent diet. During episodes of depression, they may struggle to eat at all. During episodes of mania, they may binge eat.
For some patients, the opposite is true. They may binge eat during episodes of depression and forget to eat during episodes of mania.
Either way, these two extremes can be harmful to the body and may cause other complications to arise.
To make sure that you’re taking care of your body, you should follow these tips for eating:
By establishing these habits, you’ll be able to help with the distribution of serotonin in your brain. The imbalance of this chemical is what can control appetite in individuals with mental health conditions.
When it comes to your diet, you should take it one choice at a time. Eat everything in moderation, and take care of yourself.
2. Herbs and Supplements
There are a few herbs and supplements that have helped individuals with bipolar disorder manage their symptoms:
Omega-3 is an extract from fish oil. These fatty acids can help make depressive episodes less extreme. In other words, they can lift the mood and help regulate it.
Magnesium can help with regulating mood when it comes to depressive and manic episodes. If you take a multivitamin, there should be enough magnesium in there to help you reach your daily recommended amount.
Vitamins like vitamin C and folic acid may be able to help people with bipolar disorder manage their symptoms. However, there isn’t much research on the topic. You may want to try taking a multivitamin with these vitamins in it to see if they help you with your symptoms.
Alternatively, you could include these vitamins in your everyday diet. Eating foods like green leafy vegetables and citrus fruits are great sources of folic acid and vitamin C, respectively.
Before starting any regimen, you should consult your physician. They may be able to help you choose the right herbs and supplements for your condition.
Sleep is great for everyone, but it’s especially important for individuals with bipolar disorder.
Individuals with bipolar disorder may not get any sleep during periods of mania, triggering mood changes and other side effects. The amount of sleep that you get greatly affects your mood regulation, so individuals with bipolar disorder should be getting plenty of sleep.
The other important point is to get regular sleep.
This means that you should follow a regular sleep regimen and practice good sleep hygiene by doing the following:
If you’re having difficulty sleeping at night, speak with your physician. They may be able to help you find the root cause of your insomnia and work with you on resolving the problem.
Exercise is a great mood-stabilizing technique. Getting moderate, regular exercise can balance your mood and prevent secondary conditions associated with bipolar disorder.
Exercise is most effective during times of depression. Moving around when you’re in a low mood can help you produce more dopamine, which will elicit a happy response from the brain.
However, exercise is great during the high and low periods for individuals with bipolar disorder, especially as a regular routine. Keeping normal routines during both moods can help your body establish a balance in your mood.
By following the same routine during both extremes, you can trick your brain into stabilizing the neurotransmitters that it’s sending off. This trick isn’t fool-proof but it has been able to help many people with bipolar disorder.
When it comes to choosing the kind and intensity of exercise that you do, listen to your body. Try different kinds of exercises and see what you enjoy.
There isn’t a one-size-fits-all regimen for exercising. So, you should pick your own routine and allow yourself to try new things.
Periods of exercise are a great way to feel in control of something. Plus, it’s always great to have a predictable routine that you can set for yourself.
5. Calming Techniques
If you’re under a lot of stress, it could be complicating your symptoms of bipolar disorder. Anxiety and stress can compound the already-existing problems with the brain’s neurotransmitters. These moods could cause your brain to overcompensate and create even greater problems for the body.
This is why having go-to calming techniques is essential for patients with bipolar disorder. By reducing anxiety and stress, you can calm the brain and rebalance your mood.
Here are some common calming techniques that patients with bipolar disorder have used in the past:
None of these practices are curative, but they can help you manage your symptoms.
If you feel like you’re struggling with anxiety and stress on a daily basis, you should consider practicing daily mindfulness. The practice of mindfulness allows you to listen to your body and respect it without giving in to unnecessary pressures. In other words, it’s all about finding the balance between what your body wants and needs.
Daily mindfulness practice can help you balance your mood and find purpose in life. It’s a great addition to anyone’s daily habits.
Sunlight has a great effect on your mood regulation. Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a great reminder of how not getting enough sunlight can cause depression over time.
While you can’t blame the sun for extreme lows, you can use sunlight to help you regulate your overall mood.
The change in the amount of sunlight that you get in the wintertime may explain the increase in depressive mood swings during that time. This is why, even during the winter, you should take some time to soak up some sunlight.
If you’re feeling like you’re in a depressive extreme, you can lay outside or open a window. It’s not going to cure your depression, but it may be able to help you not feel so low.
Getting Help Managing Bipolar Disorder
When it comes to managing bipolar disorder, there are a lot of factors at play. From biological to social considerations, each patient is facing something different.
This means that each patient should have their own treatment plan that works for them.
Sometimes, medications and lifestyle changes help yet aren’t enough to help the individual implementing them. That’s when it’s time to seek clinical treatment.
Asking for help from healthcare experts is nothing to be ashamed of. In fact, you should celebrate that you’re able to recognize that you need outside help.
If you’re ready to get started, contact our team at Solara Mental Health. With a range of treatment options, we can help you find the plan that’s right for you.
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