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How can I prevent a relapse of bipolar disorder?

Bipolar Disorder often makes those with the disorder feel powerless over its shifting moods. But those with the disorder can lead a full and productive life by taking care to manage the disorder, day by day. Medications, therapy, and a network of supportive family, friends and organisations are an essential part of helping you to get well and stay well. There are four important steps to managing the disorder, from preventing a relapse to promoting recovery. These are:
  • Stay on your treatment plan
  • Track your moods and feelings
  • Take care of your whole self
  • Create a support system of family, friends, and organizations to help
Ms. Julie A. Fast
Mental Health
Great question. Relapse means that bipolar disorder creeps up on you and takes over your life once again. This illness is so sneaky.
Luckily, if you’re aware of the very, very basic beginnings of a mood swing, you can often catch the illness before it goes too far. This is what prevents relapse.
I was diagnosed in 1995. It took a long time for me to come up with a plan to help myself stay stable. One strategy I use is  ‘basic symptom recognition.’ I’ll use mania as an example. 
I often get euphoric mania where everything is great and life is wonderful. It’s terrifically hard to fight this when it first starts.
Who wouldn’t want life to be beautiful, especially when you’re depressed the majority of the time?
In the past I would only wake up to reality after the hypomania was done and my life was a wreck. These days I know what to look for.  Here is the absolute first sign that tells me I’m manic.  I say…
“I’m not manic am I?” 
 It’s always the same. My brain has a way of telling me what’s going on, but I NEVER want to listen. I will answer, “Of course I’m not manic! This isn’t mania! I just feel better!” Nope, it means I’m manic and I have to face it and get help.  I often feel such a sadness that it's not real. Hope springs eternal!
The next sign is how I look at men. When I’m depressed, the concept of men is complicated by too many things in the past.  When I’m manic- it’s like a buffet! Men look delicious! That has caused some trouble in the past. As you can imagine! ;)
I’m always disappointed that my lovely manic mood isn’t real. I don’t want to have months of mania ever again, so I know my very basic symptoms and go into action by checking my meds and looking for any trigger that could have caused the mania.
 This is how I often prevent a serious relapse.
 
To protect yourself from a bipolar mood swing, it is important that you recognize the early warning signs of episodes of depression, hypomania, or mania. This allows you to consult with your doctor about how best to stabilize your mood. You can also adjust your lifestyle habits to eliminate anything that may trigger an episode. To avoid a depressive or manic episode: avoid alcohol and illicit drugs; keep a structured schedule for bedtime, for getting up in the morning, and for meal times; find activities and work that hold your attention; develop a strong support network, including your doctor, psychiatrist, therapist, and family members; join a support group for people with bipolar disorder, so you have understanding and encouragement from people experiencing the same feelings as you are; and engage in regular exercise.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.