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Bipolar Depression Management Tips

Bipolar Depression treatment tips and tools. Learn how to manage your symptoms of Bipolar Depression.

Bipolar Depression treatment tips and tools. Learn how to manage your symptoms of Bipolar Depression.

The secret to managing Bipolar Depression follows the same three steps I used to explain the differences between depression and bipolar depression.

  1. Mania must be managed and prevented
  2. Medications must address the myriad of symptoms that often accompany this kind of depression
  3. Management must include specific mood swing management, help from family and friends and a stable health care team

My articles on HealthyPlace.com on Depression and Bipolar and my books (Take Charge of Bipolar Disorder, Loving Someone with Bipolar Disorder: Understanding and Helping Your Partner, and Get it Done When You're Depressed) offer an in-depth treatment plan for Depression and Bipolar Disorder, as well as a detailed explanation of the medications used to treat each.

Lifestyle Changes to Successfully Manage Bipolar Depression

There are many inexpensive ways a person can successfully manage their moods. When the following ideas are combined with the right medications, success is often much easier than expected and lifelong. Before you get too overwhelmed with all of the information in this article, remember that this is an overview of the two depressions! Taking the time to learn about and manage Bipolar Depression may be overwhelming and possibly scary now, but it makes life a lot easier in the future!

After over ten years of managing chronic Bipolar Depression - seven of them without finding the right medication - I've found there are areas I can change that lead to immediate symptom reduction and, in many cases, actually prevent Bipolar Depression in general. In turn, it significantly lessens my other bipolar disorder symptoms including mania, psychosis and anxiety.

Tips to Manage Bipolar Depression

Relationships: Outside of medications, the best way to manage Bipolar Depression is to manage your relationships. The author W. Clement Stone said,

"Be careful the environment you choose for it will shape you; be careful the friends you choose for you will become like them."

I have found this to be very true. Moods are often directly related to the people you let in your life. Especially romantic relationships! If there is stress in any relationship, it can lead to depression. If you are already depressed, your symptoms can lead you to choose the wrong relationship and stay longer than you should. Assess the people in your life.

  • Who understands depression and offers love and support?
  • What relationships currently in your life lead you to depression and what do you want to do about it?

I know that contentious relationships not only cause depression in my life, but they can also lead to other symptoms such as anxiety and psychosis. Positive relationships are a reflection of your self confidence and the first step to loving relationships is to improve, or possibly (and always gently) end, the ones that cause you pain. This requires a lot of self-reflection and possibly discussions with the person you feel is causing you pain, but ultimately, if you really want to find stability, your relationships need to be stable as well.

Finding a Purpose: BIPOLAR Depression is very good at taking away a sense of purpose. This can be especially devastating after a manic episode that made everything seem full of purpose!

It's essential that you determine your purpose in life when you're not depressed so that you can use this information when you go down. You may have to search far and wide for your purpose, but it's in there.

Our personalities are a good indication of what we want from life. If you're an extrovert, working with groups may be your purpose. If you're an introvert, it may be writing or being in nature. For many people, spirituality provides a great deal of purpose. And finally, relationships, even those you take for granted, may be the purpose in your life without your knowing it. I remember being very depressed one day in my car. I was crying and kept thinking, "What is the purpose of my life? Why is my life so hard?" At that moment, after years of asking that question when I was depressed, I realized that my family is the purpose of my life. My mother, brother and, especially, my seven year old nephew. Now, when I have the thought, "Life has no meaning," I can honestly answer and say, 'Oh yes it does. My family gives me meaning and purpose. I won't listen to this depression!" I didn't really believe what I was saying at the time, but I said it anyway and it helped me get out of the depressive thoughts.

If you're not sure of your purpose, start thinking now and you may be surprised that you already have one that is just waiting to be expressed.

Sleep: Over the years, I have learned to go to bed early, sleep more and stick to a very regimented sleep routine. Of course, this is not always possible and it can be darn boring, but it helps me stay stable. When I was out every night being the social butterfly, I couldn't get to sleep without medications and often felt hopeless and depressed the next morning. Giving up a fun nightlife has been hard- but I knew if I really wanted to manage this illness, regimented sleep was essential. It's also a sign that you've taken on too much. How is your sleep schedule?

Know your limits: BIPOLAR Depression is often triggered or exacerbated when a person takes on too much; such as offering to plan a birthday party or write an article for a large website! At the beginning of Bipolar Depression treatment, many people have to cut back on regular activities in order to get stable, especially if they have been in the hospital. Hopefully, this is when a treatment plan is created and the person finds the right medications and support.




Life can be pretty limited in this phase. After you're more stable, you can take on more in life. The problem is that what you consider your limit may be higher than the limits set by Bipolar Disorder. Knowing what you can and can't do is one of the biggest challenges when treating Bipolar Depression. I've found that my idea of what I should be able to do doesn't fit with what I actually can do. Now that I know this, I take on less. The next time you take on something, make sure you distinguish between your limit and the reality of your Bipolar limit!

Outside Support: As you probably know, support from family, friends and healthcare professionals is really helpful when you're depressed. But what many people don't know is that the people you want to help aren't always the best person for the job. There is a song that says: "Looking for love in all the wrong places." It can be this way when you need support from the people around you.

My coauthor, Dr. John Preston, has a great idea for creating a support team that works. Write down all of the people in your life. Then answer these questions about each one.

  • Is this is a person who can help me get stable?
  • And do they want to play this role?

People help in many, many different ways- and this is often dictated by their personalities. It may be that one friend literally doesn't want to hear you talk about depression, but they will talk with you about movies when you just need to get out to feel better. It could be that a therapist is the best support person in your life and is a better choice than calling your dad and crying.

The point is that you can't expect everyone to understand, be able to help or even want to help when you're ill. Once you have this information, you will at least understand why some of your relationships may have ended in the past, especially if you focused solely on how miserable you are. I know this was the case for me.

It's also a good idea to actually ask people what role they want to play. If your list is pretty blank, this may be one reason you have trouble managing your depression. Make it a goal to add people to that list. You can do this through a support group, taking a class, volunteering or joining a club- and yes, you can meet people even when you're depressed. Human contact is essential for depression management. Support can also come from animals, as many of you with wonderful cats and dogs already know. Or as my mother reminded me, it may be a rat or a lizard!

I don't want to make the above suggestions sound too easy. They are not easy and it may take years to truly make the changes you want to make. But you know what? That is just fine. All good and permanent changes take time. Choose one of the above areas and work on that first. In fact, a great place to start is to write down the people in your life and answer the two questions to determine if you're asking for help in the right places, or if you're even asking for help at all! The next change can be simply looking at your sleep patterns. Simple changes can have huge results.

A Final Treatment Tip: Monitor Your Moods Nightly

I've monitored my mood every night for the past seven years! I've learned so much from my mood charts. Troublesome relationships make me very ill- supportive relationships keep me stable. I always feel better and more in charge after seeing my therapist and finding the right medication changed my life. My charts help me see that many of my mood swings are simply a byproduct of Bipolar Disorder, but a large part of them are triggered directly by my own choices.

I know that BIPOLAR Depression makes it very hard for me to sleep and I often wake up in the morning crying when I'm depressed. These mood charts have helped me accept that my BIPOLAR Depression is an illness and not a failing in myself. It's all about the choices I make when I'm not ill.

This is also a great way to catch the signs of mania before they go too far. It's much easier to notice depression than mania, especially when the mania comes after a depression and the person feels a lot better. Also, it's essential that anyone with Bipolar Disorder look for depression after mania. It's often true that what goes up, must come down!

Conclusion

You now know more about the differences between Depression and BIPOLAR Depression than most of the people in the world! This is great information as it leads to correct treatment for each kind of depression. One size does not fit all when it comes to mood disorder depressions. Knowing the difference for yourself or others helps you ask your HCPs much more pointed questions, examine your medications with more knowledge and possibly answer the question- "I know I'm depressed, but why am I having so many other symptoms?" This is also invaluable information for family members, as they see their loved ones suffer with depression and often have to be the people to take charge to get them help as the illness has taken over.

If often takes years, yes, I said years to manage Bipolar Depression. If you have time, patience, help and the right tools, Bipolar Depression can be managed successfully.

Never forget: It's better to take a few years to get better than stay sick for years and years!



next: A Final Quiz: Name that Depression
~ all articles on bipolar depression
~ all articles on bipolar disorder

APA Reference
Fast, J. (2010, May 31). Bipolar Depression Management Tips, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, May 24 from https://www.healthyplace.com/bipolar-disorder/bipolar-depression/bipolar-depression-management-tips

Last Updated: 2017, July 11

Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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