You'll probably need to make lifestyle changes to stop cycles of behavior that worsen your bipolar disorder. Here are some steps to take:
- Quit drinking or using recreational drugs. One of the biggest concerns with bipolar disorder is the negative consequences of risk-taking behavior and drug or alcohol abuse. Get help if you have trouble quitting on your own.
- Form healthy relationships. Surround yourself with people who are a positive influence. Friends and family members can provide support and help you watch for warning signs of mood shifts.
- Create a healthy routine. Having a regular routine for sleeping, eating and physical activity can help balance your moods. Check with your doctor before starting any exercise program. Eat a healthy diet. If you take lithium, talk with your doctor about appropriate fluid and salt intake. If you have trouble sleeping, talk to your doctor or mental health professional about what you can do.
- Check first before taking other medications. Call the doctor who's treating you for bipolar disorder before you take medications prescribed by another doctor or any over-the-counter supplements or medications. Sometimes other medications trigger episodes of depression or mania or may interfere with medications you're taking for bipolar disorder.
- Consider keeping a mood chart. Keeping a record of your daily moods, treatments, sleep, activities and feelings may help identify triggers, effective treatment options and when treatment needs to be adjusted.
Coping with bipolar disorder can be challenging. Here are some strategies that can help:
- Learn about bipolar disorder. Education about your condition can empower you and motivate you to stick to your treatment plan and recognize mood changes. Help educate your family and friends about what you're going through.
- Stay focused on your goals. Learning to manage bipolar disorder can take time. Stay motivated by keeping your goals in mind and reminding yourself that you can work to repair damaged relationships and other problems caused by your mood swings.
- Join a support group. Support groups for people with bipolar disorder can help you connect to others facing similar challenges and share experiences.
- Find healthy outlets. Explore healthy ways to channel your energy, such as hobbies, exercise and recreational activities.
- Learn ways to relax and manage stress. Yoga, tai chi, massage, meditation or other relaxation techniques can be helpful.
There's no sure way to prevent bipolar disorder. However, getting treatment at the earliest sign of a mental health disorder can help prevent bipolar disorder or other mental health conditions from worsening.
If you've been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, some strategies can help prevent minor symptoms from becoming full-blown episodes of mania or depression:
- Pay attention to warning signs. Addressing symptoms early on can prevent episodes from getting worse. You may have identified a pattern to your bipolar episodes and what triggers them. Call your doctor if you feel you're falling into an episode of depression or mania. Involve family members or friends in watching for warning signs.
- Avoid drugs and alcohol. Using alcohol or recreational drugs can worsen your symptoms and make them more likely to come back.
- Take your medications exactly as directed. You may be tempted to stop treatment — but don't. Stopping your medication or reducing your dose on your own may cause withdrawal effects or your symptoms may worsen or return.
Feb. 15, 2017
- Reilly-Harrington NA et al. A tool to predict suicidal ideation and behavior in bipolar disorder: The Concise Health Risk Tracking Self-Report. Journal of Affective Disorders. 2016;192:212.
- Bipolar and related disorders. In: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders DSM-5. 5th ed. Arlington, Va.: American Psychiatric Association; 2013. http://www.psychiatryonline.org. Accessed Dec. 2, 2016.
- Bipolar disorder. National Institute of Mental Health. https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/bipolar-disorder/index.shtml. Accessed Dec. 2, 2016.
- Bipolar disorder. National Institute of Mental Health. https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/bipolar-disorder-tr-15-3679/index.shtml. Accessed Dec. 2, 2016.
- Bipolar disorder in children and teens. National Institute of Mental Health. https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/bipolar-disorder-in-children-and-teens-qf-15-6380/index.shtml. Accessed Dec. 2, 2016.
- Bipolar disorder. National Alliance on Mental Illness. https://www.nami.org/Learn-More/Mental-Health-Conditions/Bipolar-Disorder. Accessed Dec. 2, 2016.
- AskMayoExpert. Bipolar disorder. Rochester, Minn.: Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; 2016. Accessed Dec. 2, 2016.
- Suppes T, et al. Bipolar disorder in adults: Clinical features. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Dec. 2, 2016.
- Axelson D, et al. Pediatric bipolar disorder: Overview of choosing treatment. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Dec. 2, 2016.
- Birmaher B. Pediatric bipolar disorder: Epidemiology, pathogenesis, clinical manifestations, and course. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Dec. 2, 2016.
- Picardi A, et al. Psychotherapy of mood disorders. Clinical Practice and Epidemiology in Mental Health. 2014;10:140.
- Fountoulakis KN, et al. The International College of Neuro-Psychopharmacology (CINP) treatment guidelines for bipolar disorder in adults (CINP-BP-2017), part 2: Review, grading of the evidence and a precise algorithm. International Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology. In press. http://ijnp.oxfordjournals.org/content/early/2016/11/05/ijnp.pyw100.long. Accessed Dec. 6, 2016.
- Beyer JL, et al. Nutrition and bipolar depression. Psychiatric Clinics of North America. 2016;39:75.
- Qureshi NA, et al. Mood disorders and complementary and alternative medicine: A literature review. Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment. 2013;9:639.
- Sansone RA, et al. Getting a knack for NAC: N-acetyl-cysteine. Innovations in Clinical Neuroscience. 2011;8:10.
- Sylvia LG, et al. Nutrient-based therapies for bipolar disorder: A systematic review. Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics. 2013;82:10.
- Hall-Flavin DK (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Dec. 27, 2016.
- Krieger CA (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Jan. 4, 2017.
- Post RM. Bipolar disorder in adults: Choosing maintenance treatment. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Jan. 4, 2016.
- Janicak PG. Bipolar disorder in adults and lithium: Pharmacology, administration, and side effects. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Jan. 4, 2017.
- Stovall J. Bipolar disorder in adults: Pharmacotherapy for acute mania and hypomania. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Jan. 4, 2017.