Stress and Bipolar Disorder Don’t Mix
Stress and bipolar disorder don’t mix. In fact, stress and illness, in general, don’t mix. It pretty much doesn’t matter why you’re sick, it’s well known that your illness can get worse when you’re put under stress (Mental Illness, Stress, ... and Relapse). What does this mean for bipolar? Well, when I’m stressed I have experienced greater symptoms of hypomania and/or greater symptoms of depression depending on the type of stress.
Stress in the Body
Stress does all sorts of physical things in the body. It’s not just about the feeling of stress, it’s about why you’re feeling that way and that comes down to everything from neurotransmitter to hormone changes. Stress, like mental illness, is a physical problem.
And stress takes its toll on a body and is known to affect everything from mood to the immune system.
Stress and Bipolar Disorder
And what I’ve found is that people with mental illness tend to be able to deal with less stress than your average person. We see this in the way it’s tough to make big decisions with bipolar and in how even little decisions can stress us out. So if we feel stress and anxiety in everyday life circumstances, then it only makes sense that extra stress is going to make us feel extra bipolar symptoms.
Like I said, those symptoms for me can be hypomanic or depressive (or even mixed) in nature. For example, if I’m under the stress of being filmed for a documentary, I tend to get really hyped up and hypomanic because of the performance aspect. If, on the other hand, I’m stressed because I’m not sure how I’m going to make my rent next month then I might become seriously depressed.
Removing Stress from your Life
It stands to reason, then, that removing stress from your life can improve your bipolar disorder and, indeed, I have talked to people who say their disorder has drastically improved, regardless of treatment, by reducing the stress in their lives. This often means changing jobs and making other significant lifestyle changes but it can be done.
Even if you aren’t prepared to make substantial changes, little things can reduce your stress too. For example, a yoga practice or meditation can help reduce overall stress levels. Heck, even just learning how to deep breathe can help someone reduce stress in the moment and even overall (most people do not breathe very well).
Additionally, how you handle stress can be altered by learning about additional tools such as those taught through dialectical behavior therapy and others.
Bipolar and Living Through Stress
All that being said though, there are still many times when stress will occur and you will have to live through it. That’s when all your coping skills and tools matter the most and even where medications (such as those taken on an as-needed basis) can help. So take my advice and think about stress before it happens and plan what you will do when it strikes. Because handling it more effectively can help you suffer fewer symptoms of bipolar disorder and that is something for which we are all looking.
Tracy, N. (2014, October 1). Stress and Bipolar Disorder Don’t Mix, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, July 18 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/breakingbipolar/2014/10/stress-bipolar-dont-mix
Author: Natasha Tracy
Great post. I started meditating 9 months ago and it has changed my life. I now meditate twice a day most days. As I'm coming off Klonopin, meditation is a great tool, mandatory. It helps me change my perspective from "this is a crisis" to "this is just a problem needing a solution." Only from a calm mind and body could I make that shift.
She is a talented caring and intelligent woman with great moral and ethical values. She has had numerous surgeries and has had a difficultb time with her long (10years) recovery. Is she showing signs of bi-Polar? Can injuries and drug use (pain killers) Cause an underlying Bi-Polar appearance. sorry for the long blog. Bottom line I am going no place...I can deal with Bi-Polar if I just know the facts and have outlets like this