Lifestyle Tips for Dealing with the Ups and Downs of Bipolar Disorder
So, you have bipolar disorder. Your life is not over, and there are other ways to deal with the condition outside of the usual drug treatments. Fortunately, a lot of advancement has been made in understanding this disorder in the last 20 years. It’s still considered a complex disorder and chronic illness, but it can be managed.
Yes, medication is still the backbone of modern treatment. There’s a simple reason why: it still works for many people. Patients typically need to take multiple medications. In fact, over 80 percent of people who have bipolar, and take a combination of several medications, do well and live a mostly normal life.
However, more than half of patients eventually stop taking their meds, and this can be problematic. If you don’t like how the medications make you feel, you can bolster the ones you do feel comfortable taking with some other adjustments to your life.
A common and major trigger is alcohol and drugs. It’s also one of the things that bipolar sufferers are drawn to. If you’ve had a problem with substance abuse in the past, or you’re plagued by it now, there’s a lot of help out there that doesn’t involve the usual AA approach.
In fact, on this site, there’s a lot of treatment options that include a cognitive approach combined with physical therapy. Together, you get the knowledge and support you need to kick the habit, reduce the urge to use, and redefine your life according to positive values that help you pursue things that are rationally beneficial to you.
You may even learn something new about yourself, reorient your behavior and fundamentally change the way you look at addition and even bipolar.
Social Support and Support Groups
Support groups are key. They help you deal with the problems you’re going through by exposing you to other people who often have the same exact problems you’re facing. There’s a sort of connection that some psychologists call “psychological visibility.” This connection is a feeling that another person “gets you” or understands you in a way that others don’t.
Often, this kind of “visibility” manifests itself as a feeling of friendship.
Aside from drugs, the only other proven modality is psychotherapy. Psychotherapy comes in many flavors, but the most effective seems to be cognitive therapy. Cognitive therapy is a form of therapy that focuses on your feelings and emotions and digs down into them to try to uncover the root causes of them.
For example, a cognitive approach to outbursts of anger would look at the problem intellectually. Anger is a feeling that some kind of injustice has been committed. The therapist and you will try to think about whether an actual injustice has been committed. In many cases, the anger is groundless, but rather than tell you that your emotions are meaningless, cognitive therapy tries to help you understand its roots so that you can better deal with the emotions in the future when they arise.
In the end, you become more aware, even hyper-aware, of your emotions and thoughts and you attempt to bridge the dichotomy between the two.
About the Author
Steve Tucker is a psychologist with a deep understanding of how holistic medicine can benefit the mind and body. From habits to emotional responses, he believes one can take control of one’s behavioral health.