Can I prevent bipolar disorder?

Ruth White, MPH
Social Work
Bipolar disorder cannot be 'prevented', however, with careful management symptoms can be minimized and some people actually find that some of the symptoms are prevented. Medications used as prescribed can prevent certain symptoms, as can counseling with a mental health professional. Regular exercise can reduce sleep difficulties that are often a symptom of the disorder, as can regular sleep routines. Certain nutritional supplements such as Vitamin D (which you can get from the sun) and omega 3s have been found to reduce low mood and thus can prevent depression. Though these activities and nutritional supports can minimize or eliminate symptoms the illness itself cannot be prevented.
Mark Moronell, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)

Using illicit drugs to self-medicate the bipolar disorder symptoms can worsen the course of bipolar. If you are using drugs to treat your bipolar depression or mania, here are some steps you can take:

  • Talk to your doctor about your use of illicit drugs. Your doctor can help you get off of the drugs and start medications that are proven to modulate the moods of bipolar.    
  • Stop drinking and using the illicit drugs. This is a major concern with people who have bipolar disorder. While the alcohol or drugs may make you feel "well" temporarily, over the long term the drugs can worsen your mood disorder. Get help if you have trouble quitting on your own.
  • Stay away from unhealthy relationships. Surround yourself with people who want the best for you and who are positive influences in your life. Unhealthy relationships can encourage attitudes that can worsen your bipolar disorder.
  • Take care of yourself. Eat a healthy diet, get plenty of exercise, and aim for good sleep every night. Getting enough sleep is vital to managing your mood disorder.
Dr. Michael Roizen, MD
Internal Medicine
There’s no foolproof way to prevent bipolar disorder, but you can try to prevent or reduce mood swings. Stress and anxiety reduction by exercising, eating a balance diet, getting a good night sleep (6-8 hours a night), and trying things like yoga can be a huge help. So is stopping destructive behavior like drinking alcohol excessively and using drugs. Finally, you can also avoid situations that you know trigger mood swings or negative behavior.

Bipolar disorder cannot be initially prevented. However, early intervention and consistent treatment can help limit the occurrence of bipolar episodes. Medication and therapy can make episodes less severe and less frequent provided it is taken continuously as part of lifetime treatment.

Continue Learning about Bipolar Disorder

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.