To say that bipolar disorder dramatically changes your life and throws substantial challenges into your path doesn’t begin to describe life with this condition. When you have bipolar disorder, you don’t know when your mood might change or if you’ll find yourself in a manic or depressive episode.
Dr. Ifeanyi Olele at Genesis Psychiatric Solutions can help. He understands your challenges and provides holistic care, including the medication, psychotherapy, and long-term support you need to thrive despite your bipolar disorder.
We know from working with other patients that you can learn to manage bipolar disorder. We also know it takes tremendous courage, persistence, and dedication to a goal.
Living successfully with bipolar disorder requires a plan and a support system. Let’s talk about how we can help you make it happen.
Bipolar disorder basics
Bipolar disorder can begin any time between childhood and the age of 50, but the condition most often appears between the ages of 15-24.
Bipolar disorder was originally called manic-depressive disorder, which describes the swings between high-energy mania and low-energy depression. Now we know there are several types of bipolar, with different symptom patterns:
Bipolar I disorder
Bipolar I disorder is diagnosed when you have a manic episode that lasts at least seven days or by an episode with manic symptoms that are so severe you need hospitalization.
People with bipolar I disorder also have episodes of major depression. You may experience mixed features, which means you have depression and mania at the same time.
Bipolar II disorder
Bipolar II disorder occurs when you have at least one episode of major depression and one of hypomania. During hypomania, you have the same symptoms as full-blown mania, but they’re not as severe and seldom require hospitalization.
This type of bipolar disorder causes frequent mood swings between hypomania and depression. Though you have many ups and downs that don’t stop for at least two year period your symptoms are less severe than bipolar I or II.
Living with bipolar disorder
These are the top four tips you can follow to maintain control of your life despite having bipolar disorder:
Stick with your medications
Mood stabilizers can effectively prevent mood swings, but only if you take them as prescribed. Many people stop taking their medications when their mood is balanced and they feel good, or they experience side effects.
Suddenly stopping your medication is a sure way to trigger a mood swing. Talk with us before you stop taking your medication. Then we can work with you to either change your meds or to gradually reduce your dose.
Create a support system
Having a support system — a few people who know you and know you’re diagnosed with bipolar disorder — is essential if you want to live well with bipolar disorder.
It’s not always easy to decide whom to tell about your diagnosis, or how to tell them, but it’s important that you have trusted friends or family who are in your corner.
Participate in psychotherapy
Psychotherapy, or talk therapy, covers a vast range of techniques that explore your thoughts, emotions, and behaviors.
During therapy, you receive support, education, guidance, and encouragement for any aspect of your life. Concerns about risky behaviors or troubling emotions, reducing stress, and learning how to build relationships are examples of the issues we cover during therapy.
One type of therapy, interpersonal and social rhythm therapy, is specially designed to improve your moods and prevent future mood swings.
Reflect on your experience
With or without bipolar disorder, setbacks are inevitable. After a manic or depressive episode, take the time to look back and learn more about your bipolar disorder and how it affects you.
You might discover a pattern of things that trigger your mood swings. Many people find that a stressful event, lack of sleep, and seasonal changes precede their manic or depressive episode.
Any insight you can gain from your experience helps you better manage your symptoms and find better ways to manage your reactions.
If you have mood swings or you’re already diagnosed with bipolar disorder and need ongoing medical and psychological care, schedule an in-office or telemedicine appointment at Genesis Psychiatric Solutions. Call the office in McLean, Virginia, or Washington, DC, or use online booking today for a consultation.