Bipolar blogger Natasha Tracy offers exclusive insight into the world of bipolar disorder.See all posts »
Staving Off a Hypomanic / Manic Episode
Manic, or even hypomanic, episodes can take a serious toll on a life.
A manic or hypomanic episode may result in cheating on your partner, gambling away rent money, getting into massive credit card debt, harming personal relationships, and destroying employment. The goal of treatment then is to avoid these types of episodes altogether.
While effective treatment can both pull a person out of a manic or hypomanic mood and avoid future episodes, it’s a fact of life for many people that these types of episodes will occur from time to time.
So, in addition to medication, how can a person stave off a manic or hypomanic episode?
Insight into Bipolar Moods
The first thing to recognize is that these types of moods need to be avoided.
Some people find aspects of mania or hypomania to be enjoyable, but it’s important to realize that these moods can get out of control in the blink of an eye and destroy parts of your life. It’s important to remind oneself of the extreme negative consequences of mania or hypomania. This type of insight typically develops through experience but can also occur through psychoeducation.
Understanding Manic/Hypomanic Warning Signs
It is then important to understand that there are less severe symptoms that occur as the mood comes on—they can be thought of as warning signs. These are known as prodromal symptoms.
Prodromal symptoms vary from person to person and it’s important to know what your own prodromal symptoms are. Examples of common prodromal symptoms include increased energy, sleep disturbance, hostility, ideas of grandiosity, overreactivity, distractibility, uncooperativeness, reduced sleep and perceptions of persecution.
Putting a Plan in Place
Once you recognize that you want to avoid mania or hypomania and your own prodromal symptoms, you need to create a plan detailing how to deal with these symptoms. This plan needs to be created before symptoms occur and when you’re thinking clearly.
This plan can be made with the help of loved ones and professionals. It will vary for each individual, but common elements to this plan include:
- Informing others like a loved one, therapist and psychiatrist of the mood
- Booking appointments to see professionals quickly
- Use of therapeutic coping techniques such as those learned in cognitive behavioral therapy
- Adjusting medications such as increasing a dose or adding a medication
- Ensuring proper sleep (possibly with medications)
- Using relaxation exercises
Some of these simple things, like sleep, can make a huge difference. Sometimes all it takes is one really good sleep to stave off mania or hypomania whereas one night without sleep can bring on a full blown episode.
Bottom Line on Staving Off Mania/Hypomania
Unfortunately, all the best coping techniques in the world won’t necessarily stave off every episode of mania or hypomania, but using a carefully created plan can help both to prevent episodes and minimize the impact of those that cannot be avoided.