Your guide to navigating the looming threat of relapse with bipolar disorder:
A defensive strategy
The potential for a relapse is only natural with any lifelong illness; and so it walks hand-in-hand with bipolar disorder. Part of quieting the stress of a looming relapse hiding around the corner is having a defensive strategy—a plan on how to cut it off at the impasse. Really think about (better still, write it down) the warning signs for you, and then figure out what your first steps will be for prevention. Prepare, prepare, prepare and then leave it.
Paying special attention to medication and ensuring you comply with what’s prescribed can help prevent recurrent hypomanic/manic or depressive episodes. However, if signs of relapse occur, talk to your doctor immediately in case your dose needs adjusting or perhaps even a new medication may need to be added.
Know your risks
Just like bipolar disorder has a genetic component, the course of the illness runs in families, too. If others in the family have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, you may be able to take note of their relapse triggers so you can look for patterns with your own experiences.
Vanquish the vicious cycle
A diagnosis of bipolar disorder means there must always be a certain type of vigilance to thoughts and emotions. For many; however, the constant threat of relapse and a reoccurrence of a deep, dark depression or an out-of-control mania is so stressful that this alone can be a trigger for relapse. It’s important to somehow learn to deal with this stress, or find a way of changing your thought process so the stress doesn’t cause more harm.
Adequate sleep, physical activity and social contact are all important for preventing relapse. A new study has identified that hypersomnia (sleeping more than usual and excessive sleepiness) is a warning sign for relapse to mania or hypomania. While paying attention to your sleeping habits, it may also be wise to keep a sleep journal, or use an app that tracks sleep duration.
Mindfulness & insight
Accepting that relapses happen may be a first step in fighting despair. Life is full of challenges that threaten wellness, but these are also opportunities for growth and introspection, which are important tools to maintain wellness. Remember, you’ve made progress before and you’ll make it again. And you may even come out the other side with deeper personal insight and better tools for averting a relapse in the future.
Take immediate action
At the first signs of possible relapse, talk to a healthcare professional. If you catch things early and symptoms are mild, it’s much easier to treat than if you let things go on for weeks or months. Prepare ahead as to what your ‘first signs’ are, as they can be different symptoms for everyone.
via bpHope – bp Magazine Community