From diet and exercise to travel tips, here are various strategies to keep bipolar disorder under control.
June 29, 2011
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Healthy habits for bipolar disorder
Bipolar disorder is a serious mental health condition in which episodes of mania—an abnormally elevated mood often accompanied by feelings of euphoria—are interspersed with bouts of depression.
People with bipolar disorder generally need to be treated with mood stabilizers and other medications. But maintaining a healthy lifestyle is also important. Eating right, sticking to a regular sleep schedule, and other healthy habits can help people with bipolar disorder manage their condition.
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Take your meds
Take your medication every day as prescribed by your doctor.
In all, 1 in 3 people will remain completely free of symptoms of bipolar disorder by taking mood-stabilizing medicine, such as carbamazepine or lithium, for life.
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Moderate physical activity for 30 minutes a day can help control mood swings.
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Eat a balanced diet
Make sure you are getting all the nutrients you need. Eating meals at regular times will help establish a stress-reducing daily routine.
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Avoid traveling into other time zones
If you are planning to travel extensively, you may want to call your doctor before you leave. Traveling into other time zones can disrupt your medication schedule and trigger a manic episode.
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Get the same number of hours of sleep every night
Changes in your sleep patterns can sometimes trigger a manic or depressive episode. Try your best to keep the same bedtime and rise time, varying them by no more than an hour.
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Avoid alcohol and illegal drugs
Even one drink can disrupt your sleep, change your mood, or interfere with your medicines, which can make symptoms worse or even trigger an episode.
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Reduce stress at work and at home
Try to keep regular hours at work so stress won’t trigger a manic or depressive episode. If stress at work or at home is a problem, counseling may help. It is important to schedule some recreation in your day, even if it is just for a short period. This should generally include social time.
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Limit caffeine and nicotine during manic episodes
Caffeine and nicotine can both act as stimulants, which can make symptoms worse. Plus, too much caffeine can change your sleeping habits.
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Seek treatment immediately
Getting treatment immediately will help you to proactively manage symptoms of a depressive or manic episode and avoid disruptions to your life. Often you don't notice early signs or symptoms, so take the time to educate whoever is closest to you what signs and symptoms to look for. They can alert you when they see a change that suggests the beginning of a mood episode. Show them you welcome such feedback, and be sure to take it seriously if you get it.
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