By Jennifer Rollin, MSW, LCSW-C
As a therapist who specializes in both eating disorders and mood disorders (including bipolar disorder and depression) based in Rockville, Maryland, I find that there are many therapists who are not knowledgeable about bipolar disorder and that there is also a lot of stigma surrounding it.
The following are a few tips for coping if you are struggling with bipolar disorder. You can thrive in your life with a bipolar diagnosis, despite popular misconceptions and stigma.
1. Find a therapist and treatment team who specialize in bipolar disorder.
It's so important to find a therapist who specializes in bipolar disorder if you are struggling with it, as there are many factors that are important to address and most graduate programs do not spend time discussing specifically how to treat bipolar disorder. You wouldn't see a primary care physician for brain surgery.
Additionally, medication can be helpful for many individuals with bipolar disorder. It can be helpful to find a psychiatrist who is well versed in bipolar disorder and who you can reach out to for intervention if you notice that your mood is shifting. It's important to note that SSRIs and SNRIs on their own can lead to hypomanic and/or mania for many individuals with bipolar disorder so typically if someone with BP is on one of those medications a mood stabilizer will be added.
2. Track your mood, triggers, and symptoms.
In order to learn how to better cope and manage mood episodes, it can be helpful to begin by tracking your mood states, as well as various triggers and symptoms for a few weeks. While sometimes moods can shift with no obvious triggers, there are other times where you may notice that things externally can contribute. This can help to cultivate an awareness of how to better manage triggers. It can also be helpful to start to be able to recognize subtle shifts that could indicate the beginning stages of a depressive, hypomanic or manic episode-that way you can hopefully intervene before it becomes a full blown episode.
Examples of some common potential triggers for mood state shifts include:
-a reduction in sleep/sleep changes in general
-stressful life circumstances
-for some folks seasonal changes
3. Once you have a better understanding of some of your warning signs of the development of a depressive, hypomanic, or manic episode-it can be helpful to develop a plan for how you will cope if you notice warning signs and to share this document of warning signs and a coping plan with loved ones.
Some examples of potential coping strategies could include:
-When feeling hypomanic or manic, running any major life decisions by a friend or partner before acting (and potentially giving credit cards to a loved one as well).
-Behavioral activation strategies for depression.
-Calling your psychiatrist when you notice yourself going into a hypomanic, manic, or depressive episode.
4. Work to find a sense of community.
Living with bipolar disorder may feel isolating. So it can be helpful to find community of others with the diagnosis either online or in person.
It can also be helpful to further educate yourself about bipolar disorder and listen to stories of others.
There are a few good podcasts on the topic. One that I was a guest on which is a great podcast is called Live Well Bipolar.
The Bottom Line
While living with bipolar disorder can present challenges, you can learn how to better cope, manage triggers, and develop a great treatment team, which can enable you to thrive and live a life according to your true values.
Book Your Free 15 min Consult for Therapy for bipolar disorder (co-morbid with an eating disorder or on it's own) in MD, VA or FL.
The Eating Disorder Center is a premier outpatient eating disorder therapy center founded by Jennifer Rollin. We specialize in helping teens and adults struggling with anorexia, binge eating disorder, bulimia, OSFED, and body image issues. We provide eating disorder therapy in Rockville, MD, easily accessible to individuals in Potomac, North Potomac, Bethesda, Olney, Silver Spring, Germantown, and Washington D.C. We also provide eating disorder therapy in Arlington, Virginia and virtually throughout Virginia, as well as in D.C. Additionally, we offer eating disorder therapy virtually in New York (NYC), Florida, and California, serving those in cities including Palo Alto, San Francisco, Newport Beach, Los Angeles, Woodland Hills, San Jose, and Beverly Hills. We provide eating disorder recovery coaching via Zoom to people worldwide. Connect with us through our website at www.theeatingdisordercenter.com
The Eating Disorder Center
We are a premier outpatient eating disorder therapy center in Rockville, Maryland.