Bipolar disorder: Preventing manic episodes
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The more you know about bipolar disorder, the better you will be able to cope with this lifelong illness. There are many steps that you can take—or help a loved one take—to recognize and better manage manic episodes.
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One of the most important parts of managing a manic episode is recognizing the early warning signs. You may have unique warning signs, although many will be common among all people with bipolar illness. It is important to know your warning signs so that you can start treatment early, perhaps preventing a more severe manic episode. Charting your mood is one way you can begin to identify your patterns and symptoms.
A journal, where you can record how you feel each day, will help you recognize patterns in your mood and identify early warning signs. At about the same time every day, ask yourself, "How did I feel today?" Use a scale from –5 (depressed) to +5 (manic), with 0 being normal, and give yourself a daily score. If you have any new or different symptoms, write them down. Also note anything stressful or unusual that disrupted your routine. Did you take your medicine properly? Did you sleep well, eat regular meals, or exercise? Did you drink alcohol? You might discover certain things that trigger a change in your mood, which can lead to more severe symptoms, and avoid those things in the future.
As you chart your mood, ask your friends and family to let you know if they notice any signs of a mood change. Record those in your mood journal as well.
Common early warning signs of a manic episode include:
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Some of the early warning signs of a manic episode include feeling unusually energetic or irritable or needing less sleep.
Most people who have bipolar disorder take medicine every day, usually a medicine called a mood stabilizer. But you can still have a manic or depressive episode despite being on these medicines. During a manic episode, you may need another medicine to help manage your symptoms until they pass. Be sure to see your doctor when you first notice symptoms so that you can start treatment right away and perhaps avoid a more serious episode.
For many people with bipolar disorder, the early symptoms of a manic episode feel good. It is not uncommon to feel up and energized, confident and creative. These feelings may seduce you into thinking that you don't need your medicine. This is when it is important to have a support system in place. You may need family or friends to help you stay with your treatment plan.
Getting early treatment allows you to manage your illness in a proactive way. And you benefit by having fewer disruptions in your life. By avoiding impulsive and often destructive or dangerous manic behaviors, you will have fewer long-term repercussions. Behaviors like spending too much money, having unprotected sex, or driving recklessly can have serious consequences for both you and your loved ones. Learning the early signs of a manic episode may help you avoid these problems.
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Identifying the early warning signs of a manic episode will help you get quick treatment and avoid unpleasant or dangerous consequences.
The best way to manage bipolar disorder is to prevent manic episodes. Although that is not always possible, you can identify and try to avoid the triggers that may lead to a mood swing. One of the most important aspects of managing your illness is to stay on a routine, particularly keeping a stable sleep pattern.
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A regular sleep schedule is important to prevent mood changes.
By avoiding triggers such as using alcohol or drugs and by eating regular meals and keeping a regular daily routine, you can better manage or even prevent a manic episode.
There is no need to ask family and friends for help during a manic episode.
Learning how to manage your bipolar disorder can help you live a healthy and productive life.
Talk with your doctor
If you have questions about this information, take it along with your mood journal or symptom chart when you visit the doctor. You may want to use a highlighter to mark areas or make notes in the margins of the pages where you have questions.
Be sure to let your doctor know when you notice changes in your behavior. Talk with your doctor about what might be triggers for you and discuss ways to avoid them.
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