Bipolar symptoms can be severe and they are different than the normal highs and lows everyone occasionally experiences. The manic episodes present with bipolar disorders are characterized by an elevated, expansive, or irritable mood in combination with symptoms such as:
- Inflated self esteem or grandiosity
- Decreased need for sleep
- Racing thoughts, talking fast, jumping from one idea to the next
- Having unrealistic beliefs about your abilities
- Increase in activities/ beginning multiple new projects
- Excessive involvement in high-risk, pleasurable activities
During the depressive phase, you may find it difficult to complete everyday responsibilities. Bipolar depression is characterized by:
- Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or hopelessness
- Losing interest in activities once enjoyed
- Fatigue or loss of energy
- Changes in sleeping and eating habits
- Difficulty concentrating, thinking or making decisions
- Thoughts of death or suicide
Effective treatment of bipolar disorder is dependent on a number of factors, and medication unaided usually isn’t sufficient. For the most effective treatment, you should learn about the illness, talk openly with your doctors and therapist, develop a reliable support system, live a healthy lifestyle, and commit to a treatment plan. The goal of a comprehensive treatment plan is to ease symptoms, restore your ability to function, repair problems that bipolar disorder has caused in various areas of your life, and lessen the possibility of recurrence. Comprehensive treatment plans usually include:
- Medication – Mood stabilizers are used to reduce the ups and downs of bipolar disorder and control symptoms. Common mood stabilizers used include Lithium, Lamictal, Depakote, Tegretol, Trileptal and Topamax.
- Education: Symptom management and the avoidance of complications starts with an in-depth understanding of the disorder. The more knowledge you have about your illness, the more you’ll be able to avoid complications and deal with obstacles.
- Therapy: Therapy is critical for managing bipolar disorder and the problems it can cause in your life. Therapists can help you learn how to handle difficult feelings and emotions, patch-up relationships, cope with stress, and control your mood.
- Healthy lifestyle management: By purposefully adjusting your lifestyle and developing a schedule, you can manage your symptoms and keep the highs and lows to a minimum. You’ll need a consistent sleep pattern, to avoid drugs and alcohol, exercise consistently and learn healthy ways to cope with stress.
- Support from others: Living with bipolar disorder is often difficult, so having a support system is important. Support from family, friends and support groups can be very helpful.
To learn more about bipolar disorder or find local support groups visit: http://www.dbsadallas.org/