Bipolar Disorder sleep

Small Steps to Take Today to Improve Bipolar Disorder

With its mood swings, shifting energy levels, sleep difficulties and anxiety, bipolar disorder can feel extremely overwhelming. Managing bipolar and its symptoms can feel never-ending; however, by taking small, feasible steps every day, you can start to feel better and get better. Here are a few strategies to help manage your bipolar disorder:

  • Seek Professional Help: If you are not receiving any treatment for your bipolar disorder, contact your doctor as soon as possible. Medication is crucial for managing bipolar disorder. Psychotherapy is also important for helping you to better understand your symptoms and learning effective coping skills.
  • Take Medication as Prescribed: When taking medication, make sure to follow your doctor’s precise instructions. Never discontinue your medication on your own. It can worsen your symptoms and trigger an episode. If you are struggling with side effects or other concerns, speak with your doctor. You have every right to voice your questions and concerns and doing so will help you find the most effective treatment for you.
  • Organize Your Medication: To make it easy for you to take your medication, prefill a few pillboxes at a time and keep them in different places such as your car, purse and kitchen. This way you will always have your medication at-hand in convenient spots.
  • Create a Bedtime Routine: Sleep is critical for those with bipolar disorder. Sleep deprivation is also one of the most common triggers for a manic episode. Having a regular sleep schedule is very important for people with bipolar disorder and this should be followed meticulously.
  • Chart Your Symptoms: Keep a daily chart of your mood, sleep, irritability, anxiety, exercise and other important symptoms and/or habits. This can be a helpful way to prevent or lessen a mood episode and will provide you with information about your personal symptoms and how they manifest. It can also help you to spot patterns.
  • Focus on the Present: “Focusing on the present, rather than allowing yourself to get stuck in thoughts of the past and future…help to reduce the emotional pain in your life,” according to Sheri Van Dijk, a psychotherapist. It can also help you to notice racing thoughts and take healthy action more quickly. One way for you to pay attention to the present is by focusing on your breath. “Notice when your attention wanders, bring it back to the breath, and accept whatever comes into your awareness.”



Nov 04, 2013
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Striking Up the Bipolar Conversation

Sharing your bipolar diagnosis can be emotional and challenging. However, bipolar disorder is nothing to be ashamed of, and if you are proactive about starting the conversation, you will set a positive tone, whether you are breaking the news to a family member, your boss, or even a new love interest. There are many reasons you should be open about bipolar disorder. “If patients carry their diagnosis around as a secret, it becomes a burden and they may feel even worried and alarmed that people are going to find out,” says psychiatrist Daniel Wilson, MD. Sharing can lighten your emotional load. Once you have decided that it is time to tell others about your bipolar disorder, planning the conversation can be challenging. Here is a step by step guide to help:

  • Pick a calm moment: Many times, this conversation is forced by a crisis. “It’s better to have the conversation when the person is feeling well,” Wilson says. Share your diagnosis before another episode requires your immediate response. If you are able to choose the location, pick a place where you feel comfortable and one that gives you and everyone involved privacy.
  • Practice: Make a trial run of your conversation by practicing it with your therapist or a friend who already knows.
  • Fine-tune for your audience: Your exact words will be different if you are talking to a family member, a co-worker or a romantic partner, so make sure to plan accordingly.
  • Be a teacher: There is a very good chance that the person you are talking to doesn’t know much about bipolar disorder. Come prepared with helpful information for them. Bring some pamphlets or contact information for a support group that you think would help them.
  • Shut out stigma: You may be able to help your loved one better understand the implications of your diagnosis if you use a disease analogy. “I like to compare it to an overactive thyroid,” says Wilson. “Clearly you want to treat that condition.”
  • Make Amends: If it is appropriate, you may want to acknowledge damage done by any past behavior that was caused by your bipolar symptoms.
  • Give them time: People handle situations differently. Some are very open and flexible, while others can have a hard time digesting your news. “It’s often helpful to have a cooling-off period, letting people go their own way for a while,” says Wilson.
  • Accept their responses: Sharing your diagnosis may leave you feeling vulnerable and unfortunately, not everyone will respond the way you wish they would. If you are upset about the response that your sharing received, talk with your therapist.



Oct 11, 2013
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Is it Depression or Bipolar?

A new brain scan just might have the answer! According to a study conducted by researchers at the University of Pittsburg, a new type of brain scan that measures blood flow in the brain might be able to help better diagnose bipolar disorder at an early stage and further distinguish the disorder from depression. Researchers evaluated 44 females, with 18 of the participants having bipolar disorder, 18 with clinical depression and 18 who were healthy individuals who acted as the control group. The participants were all experiencing a depressive episode as they were being assessed for the study. The new imaging method that was used is known as arterial spin labeling, which was designed to non-invasively measure blood flow in brain regions associated with depression. The researchers also used a novel analytical method known as pattern recognition analysis that allowed them to individualize brain differences.

The researchers found that they could identify with over 80% accuracy which of the participants were depressed and which of them had bipolar depression. Finding a correct diagnosis can often be difficult for a variety of reasons, including miscommunication between the patient and the doctor. Such as, patients with bipolar disorder sometimes interpret their manic phases as normal and will not discuss them with their doctors. Their findings also suggest that researchers may be able to predict future bipolar behavior in younger adults who are still symptom free, allowing for earlier and more accurate treatment.

Earlier and more accurate diagnosis can make a major difference for patients and their families. It may even save lives. These promising findings reveal the importance of neuro-imaging and its ability to help identify biological markers that are associated with mental health disorders. More testing of these new technologies in a larger sample and in a multi-center study are underway to gather more information.



Oct 02, 2013
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How Seasons Affect Bipolar Disorder

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Individuals who suffer from bipolar disorder face many phases in this illness. Some include: mania, depression, mixed episode, rapid cycling and seasonal pattern. With the summer coming to a close and the fall just around the corner, the weather is going to change. Bipolar disorder is similar to this because with the change of seasons and weather, comes the changing of moods. According to, seasonal pattern is defined as: “mood disorders that seem to be triggered by a particular season of the year”. So you may be asking yourself: what can I do to manage the seasonal pattern within bipolar disorder?

Here are 4 small steps in order to do so.

• Remind yourself that these racing thoughts are a part of the illness. If you suffer from bipolar disorder, then you may often have thoughts that race to the “worst case scenario”. For instance: you see a happy couple and they are single. Instead of being happy for someone else, you begin to feel bad and think you will be alone forever and never find anyone. You must give yourself positive affirmations and remind yourself that you will be happy if you allow yourself to be.
• Know that you can find happiness year-round, regardless of weather. Getting used to the weather changes may take a little longer then people who are not bipolar, but know you will adjust, and it will get better. Make sure you are taking your medication properly, and that you talk with someone you trust about any trails or tribulations you may be facing during the season and weather change.
• Keep a chart of your symptoms. If there are certain factors that trigger your mood during the season change, write them down. Writing them down will help keep track of what set off your mood, so maybe you can avoid these factors and it will result in a balance of your moods.
• Focus on what is happening right now. Do not worry or stress yourself out on what is going on tomorrow, next week or next month and just focus on today. You have no control on the future, so do not waste time becoming anxious about it.


Sep 17, 2013
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How to Deal with a Bipolar Spouse

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Sharing a life with someone who has a mental health problem like bipolar disorder can be frustrating, rewarding, and overwhelming. Many times you may not know what to expect because your partner suffers from intense highs and lows. If you have children, you may have to be the absolute caretaker when your partner is struggling from depression or mania. It’s important to acknowledge the role that the spouse of someone with bipolar disorder plays, because it can be very difficult.
• Step 1:
Show your spouse that you still love them. People with bipolar disorder are often scared and lonely, so they struggle with feelings of worthlessness. It’s vital that you let your loved one know you care. Your spouse should know that you’ll give enough emotional support, so share how much you care for your spouse and do so often. This is an enormous help to most people with bipolar disorder.
• Step 2:
Educate everyone in the family. Learn everything you can about bipolar disorder and make sure other family members learn the same information. Everyone in the household should be aware of the symptoms of bipolar disorder, treatment options, side effects of medication, and complications of the condition. This way, everyone understands what the bipolar family member is going through and can watch for signs of mental distress.
• Step 3:
Take control of treatment. Your spouse may not be motivated to seek out help. In that case, it’s up to you to seek out qualified psychologists and psychiatrists in your area for your loved one to see. You’ll also need to schedule appointments and be aware of medications that he or she takes. This can sometimes be a full-time job, especially if your loved one has sever bipolar needs. In order to take some of the burden off of you, train one or more other family members to take over these duties when you really need a break.
• Step 4:
Have a plan of action. Even with the best treatment program, it may take an unexpected turn for the worse one day. If your spouse ever becomes suicidal, you and your family should know what to do to help him. Your plan should include a list of medical professionals to call and one or two hospitals where you can take them if it becomes necessary.


Sep 05, 2013
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Working with Bipolar Disorder

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In a survey done by the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance, 9 out of 10 people with bipolar disorder said the illness affected their job performance.

Stress, unpredictability, mood changes, and workplace relationships are just some issues that make having a job and bipolar disorder difficult.

Here are some tips on maintaining job performance when you have bipolar disorder:

1. Learn what your biggest issues or triggers are at work. Once you know the stressors, you can choose strategies that make work more enjoyable and avoid situations that cause stress or discomfort.

2. Consider a modified work schedule. Often working part-time, working set hours, or refraining from intense or project-oriented assignments can promote stability. Try out different schedules and see which one works best for you.

3. Regular sleep, exercise, and meals can help you stay healthy and happy at work.

4. Do work that you enjoy and that makes you feel good. Don’t settle for something that you are unhappy with, even if that means making less money.

5. Don’t ignore the symptoms of a break down, if you aren’t feeling well it is better to be proactive than to let the disorder take over. Pay attention to the signs, and see a doctor or therapist before you have a break down.

6. Manage your stress. Designate downtime and allow yourself time to check out of the professional environment.


Aug 27, 2013
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What to Say and Not to Say

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If your loved one has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, you might be in shock and not sure what you should say to him or her. It is very important that you choose your words carefully, because what you communicate can either support your loved one or make him or her feel worse about his or her diagnosis. You might be shocked and frustrated by your loved one’s behavior, but no matter what he or she does and how upset you might get, try your best to avoid saying the following:

  • You’re crazy.
  • This is your fault.
  • You’re not trying.
  • Everyone has bad times.
  • You will be okay; there is no need to worry.
  • You will never be in a serious romantic relationship.
  • What’s the matter with you?
  • I can’t help you.
  • You don’t have to take your moods out on me; I am getting so tired of this.

So, what should you say to be supportive to help your loved one best manage his or her condition? Some of the most suitable words of encouragement you can say to your loved one include:

  • This is a medical illness and it is not your fault.
  • I am here. We will make it through this together.
  • You and your life are important to me.
  • You are not alone.
  • Tell me how I can help.
  • I might not know how you feel, but I am here to support you.
  • Whenever you feel like giving up, tell yourself to hold on for another minute, hour, or day, whatever you feel you can do.
  • Your illness doesn’t define who you are. You are still the same person, with hopes and dreams that you can attain.



Jun 27, 2013
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Barriers in Bipolar Disorder

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People who suffer from bipolar disorder can face many challenges, from the illness’s fluctuating feelings to its destructive effects on relationships. Here are some of the biggest obstacles, and strategies to overcome them:
•    Uncontrollability: “Bipolar disorder can feel uncontrollable,” according to Sheri L. Johnson, Ph.D., professor of psychology at the University of California-Berkeley and director of the Cal Mania (CALM) Program. Symptoms can seem to appear suddenly and without provocation, and diminish daily functioning and ruin relationships.
o    Strategies: While this disorder can seem unpredictable, there are often patterns and triggers that you can watch out for. You can learn to minimize and manage your symptoms. Try keeping a mood chart to help monitor changes. This can help you, for example, anticipate a potential depressive episode if you see that your mood has been progressively sinking in the last couple days. Practicing healthy habits is another effective way to less the hold emotions have on you. Make it a priority to get enough sleep and avoid substances such as alcohol that can disrupt your sleep. Exercising and eliminating caffeine can help as well.
•    Medication: There is not a single medication that helps everyone with bipolar disorder. Finding the right medication, or combination of medications, can seeming like a daunting and never ending process.
o    Strategies: Be sure to learn as much as you can about mood-stabilizing medications, including potential side effects. Remember that it might take several tries to figure out the best medications for you.
•    Relationships: Bipolar disorder can be very hard on relationships. Symptoms such as swinging moods or risky behaviors can often leave loved ones feeling confused and exhausted. Loved ones might also have difficulty distinguishing between the illness and the person, invalidating the person’s feelings.
o    Strategies: This disorder is difficult to understand, so it is very important for loved ones to get educated about the illness and how it functions. Individual therapy, family therapy and support groups can help.
•    Anxiety: Almost two-thirds of people who have bipolar disorder also have a diagnosable anxiety disorder.
o    Strategies: Try using relaxation techniques instead of using avoidance behaviors. The more things you avoid because of your anxiety, the more it will actually increase, since you don’t allow your brain to learn that there is nothing to be anxious about.


Jun 16, 2013
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Pets helping Bipolar Disorder

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People who suffer from bipolar disorder might be able to find some solace from their depressed lows and manic highs through service animals and even regular pets. Pet therapy, also known as animal-assisted therapy, is often recommended for people with bipolar or other mood disorders. Service animals are able to provide companionship and are trained to work with a specific patient to help that person deal with their disabilities, including specific bipolar symptoms. However, you don’t need a specially trained animal to get psychological benefits from having an animal nearby. Recent studies are showing that simply owning a pet can help someone who is recovering from a serious illness. Having a pet can help to soothe bipolar symptoms. Doctors have found that pets are of tremendous benefit for people recovering from serious mental illness:

  • Pet provide a sense of being known and understood, with a sense of unconditional love that can restore a person’s empathy
  • They enable bipolar patients to feel more connected with the world. They might feel this connection with the pet, or they may find that the pet forces them to connect with other people.
  • Pets create a comforting sense of family for someone with bipolar disorder.
  • They can help to build a sense of self-worth and confidence.
  • Pets can also provide a sense of purpose for a person.



May 25, 2013
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Surprising Bipolar Disorder Signs

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It might be a “hot topic” these days, but many people don’t actually understand bipolar disorder and the symptoms for diagnosis and treatment. A recent Archives of General Psychiatry report on a survey of more than 61,000 adults in 11 countries indicated that fewer than half of people in the U.S. who show classic signs of bipolar disorder actually get diagnosed and treated. Bipolar, sometimes called manic-depressive disorder, is characterized by shifts from extreme highs (mania) to emotional lows (depression), with “normal” moods in between. It is the manic phase that mainly sets bipolar disorder apart from other common mental health issues. Many perceive the state of mania as being high energy and exaggeratedly in a good mood; however, mania symptoms can take on other qualities that are less obvious such as these:

  • Reckless Spending: If you notice a friend is blowing their paycheck on a shopping spree they can’t afford, watch out. A person in a manic phase of bipolar disorder is more likely to take big risks, including spending splurges.
  • Super-charged Sex Drive: If your friend starts to have a sudden increase in their sex drive, obsessively thinking or talking about sex, or engaging in sexual encounters they otherwise wouldn’t, they are experiencing symptoms of hypersexuality.
  • Alcohol or Drug Abuse: These usually go hand in hand with manic episodes. Almost 60% of those with bipolar disorder have abused alcohol or drugs at some point in their lives. Alcohol, which is a depressant, can send a person with mania straight into a depression, while stimulants like cocaine will have the opposite effect.
  • Skimping on Shut Eye: Little need of sleep is a big sign that your friend may be having a manic episode.

Keep in mind that bipolar disorder can vary greatly in severity, and that not everyone experiences every symptom. However, if you do notice someone, including yourself who is experiencing any of the above behaviors, speak with your doctor right away so that you or they can get the proper diagnosis and treatment.



May 17, 2013
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