Managing Bipolar Moods

Being bipolar must be so very consuming, it involves being aware of every aspect of changes in mood and it must get exhausting. Constantly evaluating, “Am I happy or am I moving into a manic state?” “Am I sad or is this going to be a major depressive episode?” Constantly evaluating the ebb and flow of mood shows an awareness of this chronic mental illness that comes only after tremendous experiences in both directions. Having the support of those around you to help you “see” the changes in mood for what they are versus what they can be helpful but overwhelming. The stigma of what used to be called manic-depression can also be debilitating in its own way. Will people judge…probably. Will people understand…probably not. Folks just don’t get interested in mental health issues until they hit the media in some major shit-storm, a celebrity shares their woes, or it hits home in themselves or someone they love.
This illness can affect as many as 10 million individuals in the US alone.
Signs and symptoms of the manic phase can be: extremely elevated mood, irritability, fast speech, flight of ideas, racing thoughts, risky behavior, (including gambling, sexual promiscuity and substance abuse), poor judgement, and decreased need for sleep. Depressive phase can include: extreme sadness, inactivity or lack of interest in usual activities, crying, anxiety, or irritability, hopelessness, or overwhelming guilt, weight loss, or weight gain, substance abuse, suicidal thoughts. The diagnosis is usually first made in young adults or even late teens, but can occur any time. Symptoms are variable and it may be difficult to diagnose right away. Medical history and physical examination should be performed to look for other causes of symptoms, this should include bloodwork. Family and friends can be enormously helpful in helping to evaluate an individual.
Since this is a chronic illness, continuous treatment is needed to prevent relapse or manic or depressive symptoms, to improve overall health and to maximize the quality of life. Several types of medications may be used, some alone or some in combination with others to treat bipolar disorder. All medications have adverse effects that must be considered and there may be several changes in the course of the treatment to maintain a steady mood state over many years. I call that finding the right recipe. Patience is required on the part of the provider, the patient, family and friends till the recipe is just right. Making the client most comfortable, functional and without side effects that make them want to stop taking medications. Psychotherapy can be helpful but here again, finding the right therapist can take time and many trials. Yoga and meditation can help keep you centered and in a mind body aware state that can keep mood on an even keel.
The key to all of the treatment is to continue, to be consistent and to not give up or give in. 
Call today if you think you need to be evaluated or help with management of your medications for your mental health. I’d love the opportunity to meet with you.
To your mental health!

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