Borderline Personality Disorder and Fear of Abandonment

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What are borderline personality disorder (BPD) and my fear of abandonment like for me? Borderline personality disorder keeps abandonment on my mind. I have a long-term and near-constant fear that the people I love are going to stop loving me. This fear of abandonment caused by BPD makes me worry that my relationships could be lost at any given moment and stops me from relaxing because I feel relentlessly on edge.

There are days when my phone beeping startles me as I'm scared it's someone telling me they don't like me anymore. My inner monologue is often a stream of anxious questions such as:

  • Does he still love me?
  • Will she want to hang out with me again?
  • Have I done something to upset him?

Fear of Abandonment and Other Borderline Symptoms

My fear of abandonment is at the core of my borderline personality disorder. The anxiety I have relating to abandonment is so intense that it fuels my other borderline symptoms. When the fear of abandonment kicks in, I'm flooded with shame as if I have done something terrible.

As a result of feeling ashamed, my identity can shift making me go from confident to worthless in a matter of minutes. Furthermore, thinking that someone I love no longer cares about me can make me so upset that I feel suicidal and have urges to self-harm

Why Do I Have a Fear of Abandonment?

I was a very sensitive child and there were times throughout my childhood when my emotional needs weren't met. This wasn't anyone's intention or fault, rather a product of the circumstances into which I was born. As an infant, I didn't develop the skill of object permanency properly.

This means that as an adult, I sometimes struggle with "out of sight and out of mind," much like babies who think their parents have gone forever when they leave the room. When I'm having a particularly difficult day with my borderline personality disorder, I find it hard to think people still love me when they are not physically present with me.

How I Cope with Fear of Abandonment Caused by BPD

My bedroom is decorated with objects that have been given to me by people who care about me, such as cuddly toys, cards, and souvenirs from places I've visited with my loved ones. I surround myself with photographs of people I love and also create scrapbooks using bits and bobs from daily life, such as movie tickets and scraps of paper. 

Keeping hold of objects that are connected to loved ones helps me to hold these relationships in my mind and reminds me that I'm loved even when we're apart. This doesn't completely eliminate my distress though. The mindfulness skills that I learned in dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) are the most helpful means of coping when I'm having distressing thoughts and feelings.

Mindfulness techniques help me to pause and observe my emotional state, rather than behaving impulsively which causes further pain.  

How Having a Baby Helped My Mental Health Recovery

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Having a baby affected my mental health recovery. I knew when my daughter was born three years ago that my life would never be the same. I had lots of support, but I still wasn't sure how having a baby would affect my recovery from schizoaffective disorder.

What's It Like Having a Baby and Being a Mom with Schizoaffective Disorder?

I don't think anyone is ever truly prepared to have a baby -- mental illness or not. You can read all the books you want while you're pregnant, but you won't fully understand what it's like to be a parent until you're in the thick of it. I had no idea what my schizoaffective symptoms would be like as a mom.

Having a Baby Has Had a Positive Impact on My Recovery

I am doing surprisingly well, and in many ways being a mom has helped my schizoaffective disorder recovery. In this video, I discuss how learning my strength and feeling a sense of purpose has helped me thrive.

Let me know how having a baby has affected your recovery in the comments below.

Why Should You Begin a Mindfulness Practice?

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Beginning a mindfulness practice doesn't have to be difficult. We often hear mindfulness and meditation used together, but they are not the same thing. Meditation is one form of mindfulness, but there are many others. Mindfulness practice helps us regulate our emotions, make wise decisions, and promote good mental and physical health. Let's explore all the reasons you should begin a mindfulness practice. 

What Is Mindfulness? Why Is a Mindfulness Practice Important?

A mindfulness practice reminds you to be aware of the present moment. Mindfulness is a state of awareness. When we are mindful, we are aware of our environment, our feelings, thoughts, and physical sensations. When we are mindfully aware, we are curious, and we take the time to understand our internal and external experiences.

Why is mindfulness important? When we are aware, we are in control of ourselves, and we are better able to take care of ourselves and others in stressful situations. Let me give you an example. If you and your boss are having a disagreement and you are mindful, you are better able to regulate your physical and emotional response to the stress, and you are more likely to say and do things that are helpful to you.

On the other hand, if you are unaware or mindless in the interaction, your racing heart and anxiety might take over. You may begin to cry or yell or clam up completely. In this situation, a lack of mindfulness may contribute to an unfavorable outcome because you couldn't advocate for yourself appropriately. 

How to Begin a Mindfulness Practice

Mindfulness practice can teach you to slow yourself down in stressful situations so that you can be aware of everything around you and inside of you, and it takes time and practice. I spent so many years responding to stress with knee-jerk reactions that in the beginning, it felt impossible to pause and think before responding. What I found most helpful was practicing my mindfulness skills when I was not particularly distressed about anything.

I took mindful walks, where I worked to focus only on the present moment, noticing what I saw, smelled, heard, and felt physically in my body. I noticed the temperature on my skin, parts of my body that felt uncomfortable, and parts that felt good or neutral. Any time I drifted into thoughts that didn't have anything to do with my walk, I gently reminded myself to come back to the present moment. Even that was a challenge in the beginning, but over time, I got better at it. 

How a Mindfulness Practice Can Improve Your Life

Practicing mindfulness in neutral moments helped me to feel more aware of myself and my environment in stressful moments. I learned to use the power of my mind to control my brain. That is, I got better at not allowing my thoughts to run away with me, but instead, to have control over what thoughts I give attention to and what urges I act on or not.

Ultimately, my mindfulness practice has helped me slow down my emotional and physiological responses when I get triggered and has improved my ability to control my emotions and behaviors. Check out my video below to learn my favorite tool for staying mindful in stressful situations.  

3 Signs Your Toxic Boss is Undermining Your Self-Esteem

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A toxic boss affects your self-esteem because, for many people, the workplace is a large area of their lives that affects their self-esteem. When you work in a healthy work environment, this can give you opportunities to build your self-esteem. If, on the other hand, you find yourself spending five days a week working with a toxic boss who tries to bring you down, then you may find yourself plagued by self-doubt and self-criticism. One of the most difficult things you might encounter in your career path is a bad boss – the kind of toxic boss who you dread seeing each day because you know those encounters will dampen your mood and hurt your self-confidence.

If you’re worried that your boss is undermining your self-esteem, look out for the following tell-tale signs.

1. Your Toxic Boss Micromanages You

Toxic bosses might micromanage employees. Micromanagement is a leadership style in which a boss closely monitors and controls the work of employees. If your boss micromanages you, then he or she may constantly peer over your shoulder to check up on you, obsess over minor details, and give you detailed instructions for every task you do. A micromanaging boss can impact your self-esteem in all sorts of ways. For example, working under this kind of manager can give you the impression that you’re not skilled enough to work independently and that you can’t be trusted.

2. A Toxic Boss Gives Constant Criticism

Constant criticism can also chip away at your self-confidence and make you doubt whether you’re cut out for the work you’re doing. If your boss wants to have a chat with you about every mistake you make, this can give you the impression that you’re failing at your job and that you lack the abilities to achieve progress in your career. But a boss can behave in ways even more toxic than this. Criticism can sometimes turn into workplace bullying, which may involve insults, put-downs, and verbal abuse. As a result of this kind of mistreatment, your self-esteem may plummet.

3. Your Toxic Boss Never Gives You Any Praise

In order to build self-esteem, it’s necessary to gain a realistic picture of your personal qualities and abilities. Sometimes, it helps to get an outside perspective on what you are really like as a person, especially since we often undermine our self-esteem ourselves. However, if your boss never praises you for your achievements, then you may struggle to develop self-confidence in the workplace. Your toxic boss may prevent you from seeing your true potential. Ideally, you want to work for a boss who is balanced and forthright in their managerial style, and dedicated to helping you flourish in your role. This requires praise where it’s due.

Your boss may be undermining your self-esteem due to his or her own insecurities. Whatever the reason may be, though, you don’t deserve this kind of treatment. You should know whether your boss is damaging your self-esteem and have an action plan on how to deal with the situation. If you can’t manage or HR can’t resolve the issue, sometimes it’s best to leave your toxic boss behind and find work that benefits your mental health and personal growth. This sort of change can be challenging, but in the long run, it may be worth it.

How Multitasking Hurts Mental Health. Try This Instead

Here's what's happening on the HealthyPlace site this week:


Studies find that multitasking hurts mental health. Discover how and find 3 ways to stop multitasking and improve your mental health on HealthyPlace.

How Multitasking Hurts Mental Health. Try This Instead

How can something that seems like a good idea hurt our mental health? Many of us multitask and feel good about it; we feel efficient and productive and capable. Yet the agitation and stress we often feel are our brain’s way of telling us that we don’t need to multitask, and we need to stop it altogether.

Studies find that multitasking hurts mental health. Trying to focus on multiple tasks at once can cause:

You can stop multitasking to improve your mental health. Try these three ideas:

  • Set shift. Described by Dr. Paul Hammerness and Margaret in their book Organize Your Mind, Organize Your Life, set shifting is ending one task and intentionally shifting gears, placing your full attention on your next task.
  • Mindfulness. Mindfulness involves being present. Fully attending to a single task is the opposite of multitasking.
  • Recharge. Mindfully engaging in a hobby or something else enjoyable helps the brain become still, focused, and rested.

Our brain performs much better and happier when it focuses on one thing at a time. Shift from multitasking to mindful attentiveness and see what it does for your mental health.

References

Kubu, C. & Machado, A. (2017). Why multitasking is bad for you. Time. Retrieved June 2019 from https://time.com/4737286/multitasking-mental-health-stress-texting-depression/

Skerrett, P.J. (2012). Multitasking: A medical and mental hazard. Harvard Health Publishing: Harvard Health Blog. Retrieved June 2019 from https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/multitasking-a-medical-and-mental-hazard-201201074063

Related Articles Dealing with Multitasking and Mental Health

Your Thoughts

Today's Question: If you’re a multitasker, how does it impact your own mental health and wellbeing? We invite you to participate by sharing your thoughts, experiences, and knowledge on the HealthyPlace Facebook page.

From the HealthyPlace Mental Health Blogs

On all our blogs, your comments and observations are welcomed.

Feel free to share your thoughts and comments at the bottom of any blog post. And visit the mental health blogs homepage for the latest posts.

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Most Popular HealthyPlace Articles Shared by Facebook Fans

Here are the top 3 mental health articles HealthyPlace Facebook fans are recommending you read:

  1. Is Summer Anxiety a Real Thing?
  2. We Understand Mental Illness Better by Reading Literature
  3. 3 Steps to Overcome Negative Self-Image

If you're not already, I hope you'll join us/like us on Facebook too. There are a lot of wonderful, supportive people there.

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Mental Health Quote

"Physically, I am here. Mentally, I am far, far away."

Read more bipolar quotes.

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That's it for now. If you know of anyone who can benefit from this newsletter or the HealthyPlace.com site, I hope you'll pass this onto them. You can also share the newsletter on any social network (like facebook or stumbleupon) you belong to by clicking the links below. For updates throughout the week, follow HealthyPlace on Twitter or become a fan of HealthyPlace on Facebook. Also, check out HealthyPlace on Instagram, YouTube and Pinterest, where you can share your mental health pins on our Share Your Mental Health Experiences board.

back to: HealthyPlace.com Mental-Health Newsletter Index

APA Reference
Peterson, T. (2019, June 18). How Multitasking Hurts Mental Health. Try This Instead, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, June 26 from https://www.healthyplace.com/other-info/mental-health-newsletter/how-multitasking-hurts-mental-health-try-this-instead

Last Updated: June 19, 2019

3 Tips for Coping with Summertime Depression

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There are a lot of resources out there for how to deal with seasonal depression in the wintertime, but what about summertime depression? Coping with summertime depression is difficult because the sun is shining, the days are long, and the pressure to enjoy ourselves is high. For some of us though, summer brings with it unique challenges that can cause worsening depression symptoms.

The number one trigger for my own summertime depression is the lack of routine. Without a routine, I start to feel directionless, which quickly leads to an emotional spiral. During the school year, my classes dictated my routine, but in the summer, I'm left to my own devices to decide what to do with my time, and I am terrible at making decisions. I typically end up paralyzed, unable to choose what I want to do, so I end up doing nothing. This makes me feel stupid, lazy and ashamed, which then leads to depression. Even though I've been out of school for over a year now, summer still brings on waves of these feelings, and I definitely struggle to cope with them.

How to Cope with Summertime Depression

In the past, my strategy for coping with summertime depression was to ignore it and pretend it was completely normal and I was just being lazy and overly sensitive to my symptoms. As you might expect, this was not particularly helpful, so here are some better options I'm trying this summer:

  1. Develop a routine. So far, this hasn't gone very well for me, but I'm determined to keep trying because I really believe it will help. For people like me who struggle with feeling directionless in the summer, having a routine helps prevent the indecision paralysis I described above. Instead of waking up and immediately facing a million tiny decisions about what to do, I can simply get up and follow my routine, limiting the possibilities for paralysis and all the shame and depression that come with it ("How to Fight Summer Depression with an Active Brain").
  2. Take time to be out in the sun. On my bad days in the summer, I get angry about being depressed because it feels like I'm missing out on the nice weather I've been craving since the dark days of winter. Then that escalates to feeling like I'm missing out on a nice life in general, and the depression only worsens. Even though spending an hour outside a few times a week won't cure my depression, it can help prevent the anger that often makes my depression worse.
  3. Eat your fruits and veggies. I think this goes along with a lack of a routine, but I always find myself eating more junk in the summer. Junk food typically spikes my blood sugar, leading to a crash just 20 minutes later, and when my blood sugar falls, it often brings my mood down with it. Fruits and veggies release sugars more slowly, preventing spikes and crashes. The problem is, with depression, it's often difficult to prepare healthy foods that I'll actually eat. I recommend frozen fruits and veggies that can simply be thrown into smoothies or the microwave, individual snack cups of applesauce, or clementines.

What about you? If you suffer from summertime depression, what are some of your tips for coping?

What Are the Best Medications, Treatments for Bipolar Depression?

The best medications for bipolar depression are those that decrease symptoms of depression without inducing a manic or hypomanic episode. These medications can improve depression while keeping moods stable. Non-pharmaceutical treatments for bipolar depression have the same goals in mind, but additionally, they help people deal with the challenges, frustrations, and limitations of the disorder while developing coping skills to live well despite episodes of bipolar depression.

Bipolar depression treatment is usually a long-term approach. Mood stabilization, symptom reduction, and the development of coping strategies is best done with a combination of medication and psychotherapy.

Medication and psychotherapy are the primary approaches to treat bipolar depression; however, other treatments exist that can augment medication and therapy. These include complementary treatments like light therapy, brain stimulation procedures, peer support, and lifestyle changes.

Given the importance of medication in treating bipolar depression, let’s look at some of the best medications, some which you or a loved one might be prescribed.

Best Medication for Bipolar Depression

Multiple types of medication are used to treat bipolar depression; however, five stand out as first-line treatments. This means that medications in these groups are the go-to medications when a doctor has diagnosed bipolar depression.

Quetiapine (Seroquel) is an atypical antipsychotic and one of the first medications approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat bipolar depression. It does carry the risk of quite a few side effects, the most common of which are:

  • Increased triglycerides in the blood
  • Increased diastolic blood pressure
  • Tiredness
  • Dry mouth

The top two side effects in combination with increased cholesterol and increased appetite, which are also common, can cause rapid weight gain and create secondary health problems. That said, not everyone will experience these side effects and keeping a close eye on weight and bloodwork can sometimes make these side effects manageable.

Olanzapine (Zyprexa) is an atypical antipsychotic that is FDA approved to treat bipolar depression. Olanzapine has proven success in reducing symptoms; unfortunately, this medication carries a risk of significant weight gain that can lead to type two diabetes and a dangerous health condition called metabolic syndrome. Sometimes, monitoring weight, eating healthy, and exercising can keep side effects to a minimum so you can continue to use olanzapine to reduce bipolar depression.

Cariprazine (Vraylar), is another atypical antipsychotic that can also be used to treat depression in bipolar disorder. Unlike the major metabolic concerns associated with quetiapine and olanzapine, with cariprazine, the main concern is involuntary movement disorders (extrapyramidal symptoms) with almost half of people taking the drug experiencing them. The most common specific side effects include:

  • Parkinsonism (any condition that causes a combination of the movement abnormalities seen in Parkinson's disease, such as tremor, slow movement, impaired speech or muscle stiffness)
  • Akathisia (a movement disorder characterized by a feeling of inner restlessness and a compelling need to be in constant motion, as well as by actions such as rocking while standing or sitting, lifting the feet as if marching on the spot, and crossing and uncrossing the legs while sitting)
  • Headache

The olanzapine-fluoxetine combination known as Symbyax is also FDA approved to treat bipolar depression. Because this medication is a combination of an atypical antipsychotic and an antidepressant, the list of common side effects experienced is extensive. The more common side effects include:

  • Bloating or swelling of the face, arms, hands, lower legs, or feet
  • Body aches or pain
  • Confusion
  • Congestion
  • Cough
  • Delusions (beliefs in things that aren’t true in spite of evidence to the contrary)
  • Dementia
  • Dryness or soreness of the throat
  • Fever
  • Hoarseness; voice changes; trouble with swallowing
  • Rapid weight gain
  • Runny nose
  • Shakiness in the legs, arms, hands, or feet
  • Tender, swollen glands in the neck
  • Tingling, trembling and/or shaking of the hands or feet
  • Unusual weight gain or loss

While that list can seem daunting, it’s important to remember that an individual will typically only experience a subset of the above and the severity can range from mild to severe ("List of Bipolar Depression Medications and Their Side-Effects").

Lurasidone (Latuda) is one of the newer atypical antipsychotics approved to treat bipolar depression by the FDA. While it does have a number of adverse effects surrounding involuntary movement, these appear to be dose-related. In other words, if the following side effects are an issue, they may be relieved by decreasing the dose of lurasidone:

  • Tiredness
  • Akathisia
  • Extrapyramidal disorder
  • Parkinsonism
  • Fasting glucose increased
  • Nausea
  • Insomnia

To be sure, there are other medications and a great many medication combinations that can be prescribed to help treat and prevent bipolar depression that are outside of the FDA approved list. Mood stabilizers, anticonvulsants, and antipsychotics are common starting categories, but each person is different and what works for one person may not work for the next. There is usually a period of trial-and-error as you and your doctor work together to discover what medications are best for you. Further, the body responds differently to medication over time, so adjustments in dose or types are often made as treatment continues.

Overall, medication is the best treatment for bipolar depression because medication works on the brain to meet the disorder at its source. Medication alone, though, is usually insufficient in thoroughly treating bipolar depression. Psychotherapy is extremely helpful in bipolar disorder treatment.

Best Treatment for Bipolar Depression: Therapy

While medication works at the neurological level to ease mood swings and depression symptoms, therapy allows you to process the frustrations of living with bipolar depression and to develop tools and coping skills to move forward.

Some of the helpful aspects of therapy include:

  • Identifying negative thought patterns and replacing them with more positive ones
  • Learning stress management skills
  • Discovering your personal values and goals
  • Creating a treatment plan to follow when depression strikes
  • Learning how to chart your symptoms, mood, stress, and healthy lifestyle habits
  • Learning depression-fighting techniques like mindfulness, deep breathing, and progressive muscle relaxation

Bipolar depression makes life seem grim and hopeless. Working with a therapist can help you recover hope and create a life of purpose and meaning.

Living with bipolar depression is difficult, but you don’t have to remain stuck in its trap. Bipolar depression medication helps you reclaim your brain, and therapy helps you reclaim your life.

Additional Resources

  1. Drugs.com, Symbyax Side Effects. Jan. 26, 2019. https://www.drugs.com/sfx/symbyax-side-effects.html
  2. Matsumoto, J. MD, Parkinsonism: Causes and Coping Strategies. Mayo Clinic. April 23, 2019. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/parkinsons-disease/expert-answers/parkinsonism/faq-20058490
  3. Medscape, Cariprazine. Accessed June 14, 2019. https://reference.medscape.com/drug/vraylar-cariprazine-999874#4
  4. Medscape, Lurasidone. Accessed June 14, 2019. https://reference.medscape.com/drug/latuda-lurasidone-999605#4
  5. Medscape, Quetiapine. Accessed June 14, 2019. https://reference.medscape.com/drug/seroquel-xr-quetiapine-342984#4
  6. Shiel, W. MD, FACP, FACR, Medical Definition of Akathisia. MedicineNet. Accessed June 14, 2019. https://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=33264
  7. Soreff, S., Bipolar Disorder Treatment and Management. Medscape. May 30, 2019. https://emedicine.medscape.com/article/286342-treatment#showall

article references

APA Reference
Peterson, T. (2019, June 17). What Are the Best Medications, Treatments for Bipolar Depression?, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, June 26 from https://www.healthyplace.com/bipolar-disorder/bipolar-depression/what-are-the-best-medications-treatments-for-bipolar-depression

Last Updated: June 19, 2019

List of Bipolar Depression Medications and Their Side-Effects

A list of bipolar depression medications can be a useful reference to help you navigate the world of bipolar medication. After all, medication is often referred to as first-line treatment because it is the first remedy someone receives once they’ve received a diagnosis of bipolar disorder. The below bipolar depression medications list contains commonly prescribed drugs by category as well as information about their uses and side effects.

List of FDA-approved Bipolar Depression Medications

You’re about to see that numerous medications are prescribed to help bipolar depression. Only five, though, are FDA-approved medications for bipolar depression:

  • Cariprazine (Vraylar) – an atypical antipsychotic approved for medical use in the United States in 2015
  • Lurasidone (Latuda) – an atypical antipsychotic approved for medical use in the United States in 2010
  • Olanzapine (Zyprexa) – an atypical antipsychotic approved for medical use in the United States in 1996
  • Olanzapine-fluoxetine combination (Symbax) – an atypical antipsychotic and antidepressant combination approved for medical uses in the United States in 2003
  • Quetiapine (Seroquel) – an atypical antipsychotic approved for medical use in the United States in 1997

While lurasidone, olanzapine, the olanzapine-fluoxetine combination, quetiapine and cariprazine are FDA approved for the treatment of bipolar depression, they’re not the only medications used. Many other medications may be used in treating the depression symptoms of this debilitating disorder. Sometimes anticonvulsants and other atypical antipsychotics are used to treat bipolar depression as is lithium (a mood stabilizer). Antidepressants are occasionally used but are contraindicated in many cases and should never be used without the addition of a medication that can act as mood stabilizer.

Bipolar Depression Medications List

Below is a list of commonly-prescribed medications used for bipolar depression, grouped by category.  Each category in this list of bipolar depression medications contains multiple bipolar depression drugs.

Antipsychotics: The are primarily used as mood stabilizers in treating bipolar disorder, and they can also help treat psychotic episodes that can happen in both mania and depression.

Most side-effects are mild annoyances such as dry mouth, drowsiness, constipation, and sexual dysfunction. However, some of the newer, atypical antipsychotics—especially clozapine (Clozaril) and olanzapine (Zyprexa)—can cause significant weight gain that can contribute to type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome. First generation, typical psychotics, can cause problems with movement, a cluster of symptoms called extrapyramidal side effects.

Atypical antipsychotics:

Typical (first-generation) antipsychotics:

Anticonvulsants: These are used as mood stabilizers, preventing swings from depression to mania. Typical side-effects are weight gain, drowsiness, gastrointestinal discomfort, and dizziness.

Antidepressants: This class of medication seems like a logical choice to treat bipolar depression; unfortunately, antidepressants can sometimes cause more problems than they solve. Sometimes, they induce mania or mixed episodes.

Side effects of antidepressants in general range from mild to serious. Fatigue, dizziness, constipation, weight gain, difficulty sleeping, reduced sex drive, blurred vision, and dry mouth can be irritating. If you experience any of these more serious symptoms, it’s important to contact your doctor right away: suicidal thoughts, increased depression, anxiety or panic, agitation or restlessness, hallucinations, increased irritability, and other signs that your mood is destabilizing.

While there are numerous classes of antidepressants, three are most likely to be used to treat bipolar depression. One type is the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs):

Another antidepressant sometimes used with bipolar depression is the serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs):

Tricyclic antidepressants include:

Bipolar depression is often treated with a combination of medications. Usually, finding the blend of medications that work for you and your brain takes patience, trial-and-error, and open communication with your doctor. When you discover what works for you, bipolar depression medications tend to work well.

See also: "What Are the Best Medications, Treatments for Bipolar Depression?"

article references

APA Reference
Peterson, T. (2019, June 17). List of Bipolar Depression Medications and Their Side-Effects, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, June 26 from https://www.healthyplace.com/bipolar-disorder/bipolar-depression/list-of-bipolar-depression-medications-and-their-side-effects

Last Updated: June 19, 2019

Mental Health Stigma Says There's Pride in Silent Struggle

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Mental health stigma centers a lot around silent struggle. Often we think about it in terms of stigma leading to shame and people being silent in their struggles. But to further complicate it, mental health stigma also tells us there's pride to be found in silent struggle.

Stigma Says Pride Comes from Soldiering Through with Silent Struggle

In addition to mental illness, I live with chronic pain, which also demands a silent struggle. I don't often share when I'm in pain though because I know how people have this suck-it-up, we-don't-want-your-excuses mentality about these things. I was thinking about this recently, and how being able to struggle through the pain on your own are seen as an impressive feat of strength that should be carried with pride. We frame these people as fierce warriors.

Mental pain demands a silent struggle too. If you share what you're going through, you should suck it up because no one wants to hear about it and it shouldn't slow you down anyway. If you keep it to yourself and keep silent, it's impressive and commendable that you can soldier through your struggle. We hold those people up as examples and suggest they should be proud they stand strong through the silent struggle, especially if they've reached states of recovery seemingly on their own.

Usually, we talk about concealing mental pain and struggling in silence in regards to strength, but I think pride is just as much of a problem. If soldiering in silence is considered prideful, then to speak the truth of mental struggle is shameful. This leads people to pretend to be fine and their pain to go unaddressed. The stigma also likely becomes internalized self-stigma.

Being Proud of Something Versus Being Prideful: When Does Pride Become a Bad Thing?

We tend to think of pride as something good, except for when people are too prideful. To be proud of something means being satisfied or happy about an accomplishment or achievement. Being prideful is taking that to excess, or trying to, even when it's detrimental to yourself. Conceptulating mental health with its silent struggles in the same way can help.

It's fine to be proud that you made it through your struggle. I always say celebrate your mental health achievements, such as when you were able to overcome something that you didn't think you could.

But if you're too prideful, that's when problems arise. When that pride keeps you silent in your struggles, that's not good.

There's nothing wrong with asking for help. Don't jeopardize your life and wellbeing simply because stigma says you should be proud of your silence and ashamed of your struggle. There's no shame in asking for help and if someone tries to assert otherwise, I think it's time to reconsider your relationship with that person ("Where to Get Mental Health Help").

How to Get Past Stigma that Says Silent Struggle Is Better

Getting past mental health stigma typically isn't easy, but watch the video below to learn the one question that could help when fighting stigma-based pride.

The Importance of Being Anxious

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The importance of being anxious? Alright, I get what you're thinking -- George made a mistake in his title. Who really thinks it's important to have anxiety, right? Well, to my surprise (and likely yours too), I've realized that anxiety is the best teacher, and knowing how to learn without anxiety is actually one of the most important skills you can develop if "being anxious" is what you do. 

Being Anxious Helps You Learn 

Imagine you're finishing up psychotherapy for anxiety. You're feeling way better, your mood is great, you barely feel anxious at all anymore. Great, end of story. Let's say you're not experiencing any new stressors, so you haven't been anxious at all, and four months go by in a blink. Then you realize you have a huge work project, or you're moving, or some other significant life event is happening, and boom -- your anxiety is back. Well, you might say that's no big deal since you've learned a lot of tools for handling anxiety, and in some ways, you'd be right.

But here's the problem: you just spent four months without practicing those tools. So now you're being anxious but you haven't cultivated your coping responses for a while, so they're rusty. The stressor that might've been a three out of 10 immediately after therapy is now a seven out of 10, and you're left with a significant challenge after what seemed like a delightful vacation from worrying. Here's what's so interesting about anxiety: even though it is something you want to avoid, its presence is what enables you to learn coping skills. Without being anxious, you've nothing to remind you of what you need to practice and it's actually really difficult to maintain those skills. Below you'll find three strategies for keeping up your coping skills even when you're not anxious. 

3 Ways to Maintain Coping Skills for Being Anxious

  1. Make new reminders. The single best way to keep up your coping skills is to develop reminders for yourself (other than anxiety) to keep practicing. This might mean setting calendar reminders or making a new habit to practice your skills every morning, for example. The key is to keep practicing even when you're not anxious. 
  2. Practice when you're experiencing little anxiety. Sometimes it's easiest to practice coping skills when your anxiety is at a peak, but it can be beneficial to practice even when you're experiencing just a little anxiety too. Instead of waiting for big anxious moments, start using little fluctuations in your anxiety as opportunities for practice. 
  3. Test yourself. Anxiety can fluctuate based on the experiences we have, and there are times where it can be beneficial to do something a little bit out of your comfort zone to use your coping skills. Taking a small step beyond what you normally do can be a great way to improve your coping tools and extend your limits just a little bit. 

It takes a lot of practice to work through being anxious and even more practice to maintain those improvements. Use these tips to help yourself maintain the improvements you make at any stage of your journey with anxiety and live your best life. Thanks for reading and please share other tips you have below.