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Coping Mechanisms for Bipolar Disorder

Healthy coping mechanisms are an important factor in learning how to live with bipolar disorder. Millions of adults in the US are affected by bipolar disorder, with most diagnosis occurring during the teen and young adult years. Those with a family history of bipolar disorder may be more susceptible. In addition, those who have experienced trauma or abused alcohol and drugs are at a higher risk of developing this form of depression. Because of the drastic behavioral changes which are hallmark symptoms of bipolar disorder, there is a call for education on the positive healthy coping mechanisms that help a person maintain control. Moreover, in order to live with bipolar disorder and maintain a healthy lifestyle, coping mechanisms are key in controlling mood swings, extreme emotions, and steep highs and deep lows. 

What is Bipolar Disorder?

Understanding bipolar disorder leads to the importance of maintaining healthy coping mechanisms for bipolar disorder. Once called manic-depression, this mental disorder is a mix of severe symptoms. For example, extreme mood shifts, energy instability, change in activity levels, distractions causing inability to focus, and challenges in performing simple daily tasks cause an imbalanced existence. There are three different forms of bipolar disorder to assess, but they all present with constant change. 

The three types of bipolar disorder are:

  • Bipolar I Disorder: is described as a combination of episodes including manic episodes that maintain for at least seven days or manic symptoms severe enough to require hospitalization – followed by depressive episodes typically lasting two weeks
  • Bipolar II Disorder: a pattern of depressive episodes and hypomanic episodes, but not the extreme manic episodes described with Bipolar I Disorder
  • Cyclothymic Disorder (also called Cyclothymia): periods of hypomanic symptoms combined with periods of depressive symptoms lasting at least 2 years (1 year in children and teens)

Understanding the manic episode is crucial to the definition of any type of bipolar disorder. Undoubtedly, Developing healthy coping mechanisms for bipolar disorder requires a solid understanding of mania. Experts describe mania and the manic episode as a state of mind rife with high energy, excitement and even euphoria over a period of time. Consequently, dramatic changes in mood and thinking during these episodes can disrupt daily life with work, school and family life. 

Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder presents differently with each individual case as well as the signs and symptoms of the disorder. Indeed, these descriptions of manic and depressive episodes bring a clearer understanding of the changing face of bipolar disorder. Once these symptoms are experienced, recognized, and identified the choice of coping mechanisms for bipolar disorder is determined. Education, counseling, and other therapies can help in maintaining a positive and healthy lifestyle even after a diagnosis of bipolar disorder. 

Manic episodes can include any of these symptoms:

  • Extremely intense mix of feelings including euphoria, excitement or happiness\
  • Presenting with the appearance of being jumpy, amped or wired and experiencing excessive energy
  • Decreased need for sleep as well as insomnia and feelings of restlessness
  • Being unusually talkative or speaking very fast
  • Disrupted thought processes including racing thoughts and feeling distracted
  • Inflated self-esteem
  • Change of behaviors that include uncharacteristic, impulsive or risky behaviors
  • Feelings of increased frustration, agitation and irritability

Depressive episodes can include any of these symptoms:

  • Sadness, anxiety, fear, feeling worthless, anxious, guilty, empty and hopeless
  • Feeling tired, no energy and fatigued
  • Forgetfulness and indecisiveness, with difficulty in focusing or concentrating
  • No interest in normal activities or relationships
  • Changes in sleep and eating habits
  • Thoughts of suicide or death

Coping Mechanisms for Bipolar Disorder

Once diagnosed with bipolar disorder, developing healthy and positive coping mechanisms for bipolar disorder is crucial in maintaining a happy and productive lifestyle. Consequently, treatment options may include both medication and therapy. Understanding the disorder, identifying each individual symptom and recognizing triggers is the recipe for success in living a happy life with the disorder. Therapists, mental health professionals and medical physicians are all involved as partners with the patient to learn about the disorder. 

Healthy Coping Mechanisms:

Education is a priority concerning bipolar disorder. Learning the factors involved in the disorder, can aid in maintaining healthy and positive coping mechanisms for bipolar disorder. Knowledge is powerful and understanding what needs to be maintained to live a healthy productive life with bipolar disorder is very important. The two main factors involved in maintenance are recognizing the individual triggers and monitoring moods. For this reason, journaling can be a helpful tool in anticipating when you need to put certain behaviors into motion.

The following healthy coping mechanisms for bipolar disorder are helpful:

  • Maintain a healthy balanced diet with regular sleeping patterns
  • Journal feelings and emotions and the triggers that induced good and bad 
  • Stick to a regular routine
  • Get regular exercise
  • Take medications as prescribed
  • Deep breathing and meditation
  • Develop a hobby or volunteer opportunity
  • Avoid the use of alcohol or drugs

Unhealthy Coping Mechanisms:

Just as healthy and positive coping mechanisms can alleviate the occurrences of manic and depressive episodes; negative and unhealthy coping mechanisms can encourage them. Before the patient is educated and has learned how to identify important triggers, negative and unhealthy coping mechanisms can result out of desperation. Clearly, learning about all kinds of coping mechanisms for bipolar disorder is very important for success in treatment. 

Unhealthy or negative coping mechanisms commonly found with those experiencing bipolar disorder can be:

  • Reaching for alcohol and more than a reasonable extent of use
  • Drug abuse, especially if habitually consumed and abused
  • Angry or aggressive behaviors, potentially damaging to relationships, work and school
  • Unhealthy eating and sleeping habits
  • Gambling or excessive spending
  • Self harm, cutting
  • Smoking

Treatments and Therapies for Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder can be treated with medication and a number of therapies. For example, mood stabilizers, antipsychotics and antidepressants manage mood swings and symptoms. It may take trying several types of medications before the right medication for the individual case is discovered. Talk therapy, long term individual therapy, group therapy, and a working treatment plan completely can mean a successful journey in living with bipolar disorder. For this reason, utilizing positive and healthy coping mechanisms for bipolar disorder is the glue to keep treatment successful.

Coping Mechanism for Bipolar Disorder in California

If you or someone you love and care about believes they may be dealing with bipolar disorder and would like to talk to someone, call Riviera Recovery now! If you are in California, we are right here to meet with you, offer additional information for treatment and learn about coping mechanisms for bipolar disorder. We have a professional staff that would be able to respond to your concerns immediately. Follow through now with your desire to get help for your bipolar disorder!

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