Wednesday, July 23, 2008

One of the best ways to manage bipolar disorder is to prevent manic episodes before they start. Although that’s not always doable, it is possible to identify triggers that may lead to mood disturbances. Follow these tips to reduce the likelihood of a manic episode:

Stick to a daily routine. Schedule meals at a regular time, make exercise a part of your daily schedule, and practice relaxation techniques each night before bed.

Establish a regular sleep schedule. Changes in your normal sleep patterns can alter the chemicals in your body, which can trigger mood changes or make your symptoms worse.

Avoid alcohol and illegal drugs. Alcohol and drug use can make symptoms worse. Even a single drink can interfere with sleep, mood, or the medication used to treat bipolar disorder. If caffeine causes mood fluctuations, it should also be avoided.

Reduce stress at home and at work. Try to keep regular hours at work or at school. If daily stress is a problem, therapy may help to alleviate the pressure.

Monitor mood changes. Write down daily moods or symptoms in a journal or calendar. If there’s a pattern or warning signs of a mood swing, seek treatment immediately.

Enlist help from family and friends. Family or friends can provide assistance during a manic episode, especially if bipolar disorder causes confusion in determining the difference between what's real and what's not real (psychosis).

Continue treatment. It can be tempting to stop treatment during a manic episode because the symptoms feel good. But it's important to continue treatment as prescribed to avoid taking risks or experiencing negative consequences associated with a manic episode.

Plan ahead. It's important to recognize warning signs and seek early treatment to avoid more severe, prolonged manic episodes. Have a plan of action in place and a support system to help follow the plan when symptoms of a manic episode begin.


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