Sunday, March 23, 2014

8 Coping Strategies for Bipolar Disorder

Leading a balanced life can help make living with Bipolar Disorder more manageable. The strategies below are suggestions from real people who have had success in managing the illness. This is a list found on the National Association of Mental Illness website. I've found many of these suggestions helpful and I use all of them. They really work. I'd suggest you read through and see how you can find ways to cope with Bipolar Disorder.

Once we've gone through the list I would love to know what you do to help cope with having Bipolar Disorder.

1. Become an Expert. There are many excellent sources of information on Bipolar Disorder. Learn all you can about medications, keep up with the current research and treatment options, attend local conferences and network with other people at meetings and support groups. Build a personal library of useful websites and helpful books.

2. Recognize early symptoms. Learning your pattern of symptom development is key. Identifying certain stressors, times of year or other factors that trigger symptoms may help identify an emerging episode. This can prompt more aggressive intervention to prevent the worsening of symptoms. Don't be afraid to ask the people around you for help -- they can help monitor behavior.

3. Engage in your treatment. The relationship with your health care provider is fundamental to the successful management of Bipolar Disorder. To be partners, you both must develop a trust and a strong line of communication. Provide the information your health care provider needs to help you recover, including complete and honest reports about reactions to medications, improving or worsening symptoms and anything that could trigger stress.

4. Develop a plan. To reduce uncertainty and stress, know what to do in a crisis. Although it might be challenging to discuss your illness, get your loves ones, friends and health care providers to help. Most communities have a  crisis hotline or emergency walk-in centers, so know where they are and keep them handy.

5. Find support. Emotional support from others living with this disorder is an important part of recovery. It is helpful to share thoughts, fears and questions with others who have the same illness. Online message boards and groups found through social sites are good resources for connecting with others.

6. Avoid alcohol and substances. Drugs and alcohol disturb an already delicate emotional balance, and can also interact dangerously with medications. Both depression and mania make these drugs appear to be attractive options to "slow down" or "perk up", but the potential damage will block your road to recovery.

7. Get healthy, get rest. Maintain a well-balanced diet and engage in regular exercise. be sure to work to keep a regular schedule with adequate sleep. These strategies help to produce positive mental and physical health benefits. Try to incorporate low-key actives like mediation, yoga or Tai Chi into your life to help alleviate stress and achieve balance.

8. Get involved. If paid employment is not an option now, volunteer work can enrich your life, teach you useful skills and help create a sense of purpose and structure. Learning a new skill or immersing yourself in a hobby, particularly a creative one, can offer constructive alone time to help balance out a busy life. Engaging in your community - from coaching youth sports to helping your parks and neighborhoods stay clean and green - are all ways you can get involved with the world around you.

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