Struggling with Bipolar Depression? Try These 5 Things
Many people struggle with bipolar depression, as it is often the most debilitating part of the illness. While mania or hypomania is exhausting and sometimes dangerous, people also report feelings of euphoria, increased productivity and surplus energy that can actually be enjoyable at the time – though this isn't always the case. Depressive periods in bipolar disorder are often referred to as a "crash," partly because they can come on suddenly, and partly because they are doubly hard to deal with after an upswing. If you're struggling with bipolar depression, you'll be relieved to know that there are things that can help.
Struggling with Bipolar Depression: What Can You Do?
If you’ve been struggling with bipolar depression for a long time, you may feel that you’ve already used everything in your arsenal and there’s no hope that you’ll ever get better. It can take years to come to terms with a bipolar diagnosis, however. And understanding your illness can go a long way to helping you avoid certain triggers and set you on the path to the right bipolar disorder treatment.
There is plenty you can do to minimize the symptoms of both depression and mania/hypomania in bipolar disorder. Here, we will share some common ways in which people with bipolar disorder manage the condition.
5 Tips for People Struggling with Bipolar Depression
If you're struggling with bipolar depression, these five tips may be useful in helping you manage your symptoms more effectively. Although these tips may not be actionable in the grip of a depressive episode, they may help you minimize the impact of a bipolar depression crash.
1. Learn to identify early symptoms
Although bipolar depression isn’t always preventable, knowing when depression is sneaking up on you can help you minimize the impact on your life. According to the BP Hope website, right before you’re about to sink into a depressive state is the time to act against your early symptoms. When this happens:
- Resist the urge to retreat
- Reach out to those you love
- Schedule an emergency therapy session
- Try to maintain as many healthy habits (such as exercise and good sleep) as you can
Warning signs that you’re slipping into bipolar depression may include:
- Sleeping more than usual
- Feeling extremely tired
- Muscle aches
- Not wanting to socialize
- Withdrawing from people and activities you usually enjoy
- Intense sadness and tearfulness
2. Write notes to yourself
When you’re depressed, everything can feel hopeless, and you may forget what it feels like to feel “well.” During a good or neutral phase, write yourself a letter or stick post-it notes around your house to remind yourself of these three things:
- This is temporary
- There is hope and help available
- You won’t always feel like this
It may sound silly, but it helps to reinforce positive thoughts. You could also include notes from friends or loved ones.
3. Build structure into your life
Changes to routine and sleep patterns are major triggers in people with bipolar disorder. Therefore, if you feel yourself struggling with bipolar depression, you should try your best to maintain your usual routine. You can do this by eating at the same time each day, taking your medication at a designated time (you could set the alarm on your phone if you think you will forget when you're supposed to take them) and by maintaining a healthy sleep schedule.
4. Plan for a crisis
If you can feel yourself beginning to struggle with bipolar depression, it's important to act quickly. Having the tools on hand to balance out your moods can be incredibly helpful in this situation, so take the time to prepare these when you are feeling well. You may decide to create a physical wellness box filled with your favorite things, a list of things to do or people to call when depression strikes, or an emergency action plan for crises. You should also let someone know how you feel in case they need to take responsibility for your care.
5. Collaborate with your doctor
It’s easy to feel mistrustful of doctors or feel that they don’t understand your condition. Even if there’s no right answer or your bipolar disorder treatment hasn’t been successful so far, that doesn’t mean your doctor isn’t trying everything they can to help you. That said, if you don’t feel comfortable with your physician, you shouldn’t be afraid to ask to see someone new. You will need to work closely with your doctor to manage your illness, so it’s important to find someone you like and can talk to easily.
Communicating with your doctor and following their advice on medication schedules, therapy sessions, and other treatment is vital if you want to learn to manage your bipolar episodes. Whether you’re struggling with bipolar depression, hypomania or mania, you shouldn’t be afraid to pick up the phone and ask for help or book an extra appointment– just like you would for a “physical” illness or injury.
Smith, E. (2019, April 29). Struggling with Bipolar Depression? Try These 5 Things, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2020, February 17 from https://www.healthyplace.com/bipolar-disorder/bipolar-depression/struggling-with-bipolar-depression-try-these-5-things