The prevalence of Bipolar Disorder (BD) is approximately four percent of the population in the United States. Unfortunately, a substantial number of people are often misdiagnosed, undiagnosed, or don’t receive proper treatment. Symptom onset usually begins in adolescence or early adulthood. The disorder is characterized by periods of “mood states,” which are manic (periods of the hyperactivity associated with high energy and risky behavior) or depressive in nature, with periods of relative normalcy in between.
Manic and Depressive Episodes
Experiencing at least one manic episode is a requirement for a diagnosis of BD. When experiencing a manic episode, one might feel far more confident, restless, or irritable than usual. Impulsive, sometimes dangerous, behavior may occur, such as quitting jobs, spending money, or starting fights. Sleeping is barely required during manic episodes, making recurrent mood episodes far more likely.
A depressive episode of BD can be equally, if not more dangerous than manic episodes. Most people with BD experience more depressive episodes than manic ones, and they usually last longer. In addition, most people who suffer from this disorder seek treatment when they’re in a depressive episode, making a misdiagnosis of Major Depressive Disorder common.
A diagnosis of BD can be categorized as either Bipolar 1 and Bipolar 2. A person with Bipolar 1 might experience a depressive episode but will not necessarily have one for a diagnosis of BD. However, a person with Bipolar 2 will experience a major depressive episode.
Co-Occurring Anxiety and Substance Use Disorders
Because of the severe mood effects of BD, anxiety and substance abuse disorders commonly co-occur with the disorder. Turning to alcohol to self-medicate poses significant risks for worsening depressive episodes and chronic physical health conditions (such as obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, hepatitis, and obstructive sleep apnea) that BD sufferers are more likely to have.
BD Can Damage Personal Relationships and Responsibilities
Manic episodes in BD can make a person more combative, irritable, and disagreeable. According to a 2001 article in The Journal of Affective Disorders titled “Impact of Bipolar Affective Disorders on Family and Partners,” normal disagreements may escalate to fights that can’t be resolved logically or may devolve into violence. As a result, caregivers and friends may feel they are in danger because people in a manic episode often behave unpredictably.
Controlling impulses and functioning normally in life and social relationships is much harder for someone with this diagnosis, especially if they don’t have the skills and education to cope healthily. Functioning within a community, completing household activities, working effectively, and interpersonal relationships may be significantly inhibited, according to a 2010 article in The American Journal of Psychiatry article titled “Prediction of Real-World Functional Disability in Chronic Mental Disorder: A Comparison of Schizophrenia and Bipolar Disorder.” Issues of this severity can be disabling, resulting in higher divorce rates and levels of unemployment. In addition, a 2014 Psychiatry Online article called “Patterns of Justice Involvement Among Adults With Schizophrenia and Bipolar Disorder: Key Risk Factors” indicates that a diagnosis of BD may be associated with higher incarceration rates.
Those with BD may feel hopeless and alone in controlling their symptoms. However, people with BD can live a healthy life with a community to support them, and they can learn to manage their symptoms to prevent relapse. People with BD should seek treatment with a licensed therapist, but here are a few coping techniques to get started on symptom maintenance.
4 Coping Techniques for Living With Bipolar Disorder
You can use healthy coping methods and avoid unhealthy ones to improve your symptoms and motivate you to seek help.
#1 Establish a routine and stick to it.
Takayasu’s 2018 article in Psychiatry and Clinical Neuroscience titled “Circadian Rhythm in Bipolar Disorder: A Review of the Literature” reports that a dysfunctional circadian rhythm may contribute to Bipolar Disorder. Many with the disorder suffer from obstructive sleep apnea and poor quality sleep, making rapid cycling and manic episodes more likely. Creating a routine and getting regular sleep, sometimes with the aid of a sleep apnea machine, can decrease the likelihood of worsening symptoms.
#2 Control Stressors.
Stress is a trigger for mood episodes. Not all stress is avoidable; however, relying on loved ones for help, communicating when you feel stressed, taking breaks, and scheduling periods of relaxation can help.
#3 Give yourself a long minimum time limit to make decisions.
Poor decisions may be avoided by slowing down and asking for help when you feel impulsive. Make a rule not to make a decision the same day or the same week, as long as it isn’t time-sensitive. Consider keeping a journal to document your thoughts about it.
#4 Join a support group.
Support from an understanding community can be an indispensable resource. Motivation may be hard to come by when you have BD, but a solid community can help you stay motivated and maintain hope that remission is possible. Online groups through Facebook and other social media can be helpful. In addition, an in-person group can be located through groups like the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance.
Finding and maintaining relationships is hard when you have Bipolar Disorder. Casa Recovery can provide a life-long community and teach you skills that will keep you in remission outside of treatment at our facility. Education about your illness and family therapy are proven effective ways of keeping Bipolar Disorder symptoms under control. In addition, our team of licensed mental health professionals can work with you to create a unique treatment that will help you manage your disorder. When you get treatment at Casa Recovery, we will work with you to achieve your treatment goals, including learning how to maintain healthy relationships and keeping a job that fulfills you. Having Bipolar Disorder doesn’t have to be disabling. High-quality treatment is a must to see real, long-lasting results that result in a better quality of life. Call Casa Recovery today at (888) 928-2272 to discuss your treatment options with one of our professionals.