While there is not yet a cure for bipolar disorder, medications and psychotherapy can help you manage your condition. In addition, there are strategies you can use to help keep minor incidents from turning into major depression or mania episodes.
Here are some ways to manage bipolar disorder:
- Be aware of early warning signs. It's likely that you and/or your close friends or family members have noticed patterns in your behavior that signal the start of a major episode, and/or triggers that often lead to more serious problems. Ask friends and family members to help you watch for these patterns and triggers. Also, don't hesitate to call your doctor if you feel yourself falling into a major depression or mania episode.
- Avoid drugs and alcohol. People with bipolar disorder may fall back into old habits that, while may seem to help at first, often make symptoms more likely to return.
- Take your medications consistently and as directed. It can be tempting to stop taking medications, if you're feeling wellparticularly if they cause undesirable side effects. But don't make that mistakeit could have serious, immediate consequences. You could become severely depressedeven suicidalor go into a manic episode. If you believe you need a change in medications, talk to your doctor. Do not stop taking your medicine or adjust the dosage on your own.
- Check first before taking other medications. If you are prescribed a drug for a different health condition, check with the doctor treating your bipolar disorder first. Don't take any other medications before making sure that they won't cause an adverse interaction.
- Develop a plan. To reduce your stress, have a plan for what to do in the event of a crisis. This is something you should discuss with your family, friends, and doctor so you know in advance who can help you and how. Also, become aware of any crisis hotlines or emergency walk-in centers in your community.
- Don't manage bipolar disorder alone. In addition to getting support from your family and friends, reach out to others who share your illnesswhether through local support groups or on online. Just sharing questions or concerns with someone who understands your situation can make a big difference.