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Living with Bipolar Disorder -

In crisis situations where your safety is at stake, your loved ones or doctor may have to take charge of your care. Such times can leave you feeling helpless and out of control, but having a crisis plan in place allows you to maintain some degree of responsibility for your own treatment. Symptoms that indicate you need others to take responsibility for your care, and information about any other health problems you have.

Treatment preferences — who you want to care for you, what treatments and medications do and do not work, who is authorized to make decisions on your behalf. Having a strong support system is essential to staying happy and healthy. Often, simply having someone to talk to face-to-face can be an enormous help in relieving bipolar depression and boosting your outlook and motivation.

The more people that you can turn to who will be available and good listeners, the more likely you are to manage your moods. Isolation and loneliness can cause depression, so regular contact with supportive friends and family members is therapeutic in itself. Support for bipolar disorder starts close to home. Your loved ones care about you and want to help.

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You can also benefit from the shared experiences and advice of the group members. Build new relationships — Isolation and loneliness make bipolar disorder worse. Try taking a class, joining a church or a civic group, volunteering, or attending events in your community. Your lifestyle choices, including your sleeping, eating, and exercise patterns, have a significant impact on your moods. There are many things you can do in your daily life to get your symptoms under control and to keep depression and mania at bay. Build structure into your life. Developing and sticking to a daily schedule can help stabilize the mood swings of bipolar disorder.

Include set times for sleeping, eating, socializing, exercising, working, and relaxing. Try to maintain a regular pattern of activity even through emotional ups and downs. Exercise frequently and avoid sitting for long periods of time. Exercise has a beneficial impact on mood and may reduce the number of bipolar episodes you experience. Aerobic exercise such as running, swimming dancing, climbing or drumming — all activities that keep both arms and legs active are especially effective at treating depression.

Try to incorporate at least 30 minutes of activity into your daily routine. Ten minutes here and there is just as effective as exercising for longer periods of time. Walking is a good choice for people of all fitness levels. Keep a strict sleep schedule. For some people, losing even a few hours can cause problems. However, too much sleep can also worsen your mood. The best advice is to maintain a consistent sleep schedule.

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Stress can trigger episodes of mania and depression in people with bipolar disorder, so keeping it under control is extremely important. Know your limits, both at home and at work or school. Learn how to relax.

Back to school with bipolar? How college can unleash mania

Relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, yoga, and guided imagery can be very effective at reducing stress and keeping you on an even keel. A daily relaxation practice can improve your mood and keep depression at bay.

Part 2 - Psychiatric Medication and Bipolar Disorder - Facing Bipolar Video Series

Make leisure time a priority. Do things for no other reason than that it feels good to do them. Go to a funny movie, take a walk on the beach, listen to music, read a good book, or talk to a friend. Doing things just because they are fun is no indulgence. Play is an emotional and mental health necessity. Appeal to your senses. Stay calm and energized by appealing to your senses: sight, sound, touch, smell, and taste. Listen to music that lifts your mood, place flowers where you will see and smell them, massage your hands and feet, or sip a warm drink. From the food you eat to the vitamins and drugs you take, the substances you put in your body have an impact on the symptoms of bipolar disorder—for better or worse.

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Eat a healthy diet. There is an undeniable link between food and mood. For optimal mood, eat plenty of fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains and limit your fat and sugar intake. Space your meals out through the day, so your blood sugar never dips too low.

High-carbohydrate diets can cause mood crashes, so they should also be avoided. Other mood-damaging foods include chocolate, caffeine, and processed foods. Get your omega-3s. Omega-3 fatty acids may decrease mood swings in bipolar disorder. You can increase your intake of omega-3 by eating cold-water fish such as salmon, halibut, and sardines, soybeans, flaxseeds, canola oil, pumpkin seeds, and walnuts.

Omega-3 is also available as a nutritional supplement. Avoid alcohol and drugs. Drugs such as cocaine, ecstasy, and amphetamines can trigger mania, while alcohol and tranquilizers can trigger depression. Even moderate social drinking can upset your emotional balance. Substance use also interferes with sleep and may cause dangerous interactions with your medications. Attempts to self-medicate or numb your symptoms with drugs and alcohol only create more problems. Be cautious when taking any medication. Certain prescription and over-the-counter medications can be problematic for people with bipolar disorder.

Be especially careful with antidepressant drugs, which can trigger mania. Other drugs that can cause mania include over-the-counter cold medicine, appetite suppressants, caffeine, corticosteroids, and thyroid medication. Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance. Bipolar: Keeping Your Balance — Self-help series on managing bipolar disorder. Centre for Clinical Interventions.

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