When you live with bipolar disorder, there’s no denying the allure of hypomania, but there are real risks to leaving it untreated. Self-knowledge plus practical strategies will keep you from crashing; here are eight to get you started:
#1 Pay attention
Pay attention to triggers. The turning seasons can spark mood episodes in many people with bipolar disorder, with spring and summer known for shifts towards the elevated end of the spectrum. It’s helpful to have people around you who are clued in to how hypomania hits you, so they can alert you to the mood shift’s leading edge or, if necessary, make a doctor’s appointment for you if a few days have passed without improvement.
#2 Recognize the symptoms
Many of the downfalls of mania—impaired judgment, impulsivity, grandiose ideas, a self-absorption that alienates those around you—can be present in hypomanic episodes as well. When symptoms move beyond your characteristic level, however, it’s time to get help.
#3 Always take prescribed medicine
One of the gravest hazards of hypomania: feeling so good you decide you don’t need your meds at all. “It’s hard to tell someone, ‘You’re not doing well,’ when they have lots of energy, are meeting new people, and coming up with new ideas,” notes Tammarra Letbetter, a licensed professional counselor in Texas. “But medication should always be taken as prescribed.”
#4 Safety first
One useful strategy: Building in circuit breakers for safety. Aparna Ramaswamy, PhD, a licensed clinical counselor, notes the importance of separating an initial emotional response from any subsequent action. “It takes a while to understand that you will always react, but you don’t have to act based on that reaction. If you buy more time through conscious intervention, most times the negative aspects of hypomania can be contained.”
Meditation can help better regulate surges of enthusiasm that are genuine but not sustainable. A daily 20-minute practice can be beneficial for self-awareness and self-restraint. When you are more grounded in reality, mindfulness comes naturally and you’re able to think things through before getting too excited.
#6 Know your danger zones
Risk-taking behaviors in hypomania are common and often detrimental so it’s important to recognize your hypomanic buzz. Early intervention can prevent future mania and depression, as well as any byproducts like overspending and unsafe choices. You’ll want to watch for changes that tend to precede an episode—sleeping less, talking more, increased irritability, starting lots of projects—and take preemptive action.
#7 Write it down
Distractibility is also a hallmark of the mood state. Attention jumps quickly from one thing to another, making it hard to follow through on projects. Tammarra Letbetter recommends writing down everything you’re intending to accomplish. “Put life down on paper so you can physically see what you need to do,” she advises. Once you’ve got everything listed in black and white, you can distribute your tasks more sensibly across the week or month ahead.
#8 Get some peaceful slumber
Sleep may seem overrated when you’re hypomanic, especially since you don’t feel fatigued despite needing less shuteye than usual. Yet it can be dangerous to rob your body of this important respite. Getting a good night’s rest is crucial for regulating emotion, impulsivity, and risk-taking, as well other important jobs such as cognitive functioning. Healthy sleep also has been shown to decrease the risk for relapse.
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via bpHope – bp Magazine Community