Managing Bipolar Disorder Amid the Pandemic

Hannah Starcher, B.A.

Stress can effect everyone, but often times it is more responsive for individuals that are diagnosed with bipolar disorder. While society is starting to slowly open it’s doors again, there is still an uneasiness about what will happen and how we will endure moving forward. If you have bipolar disorder you may ask yourself what actions you can continue to take in order to better manage your symptoms as we enter the weeks to come.

SLEEP

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If you have bipolar disorder, you know that it has the ability to offset your mood, making your state of mind more unstable. This is especially prone to happen when there are excess stressors in your life, much like what is happening now with COVID-19. While there are many things that you can do to feel more in control, such as social distancing and hand washing, sleep is a key factor in sustaining stability in your everyday life.

A loss of sleep can easily trigger mania for an individual with bipolar disorder. If you are not sleeping you should contact your care provider and discuss ways in which to manage your sleeping habits. The risk of experiencing a manic episode will be greater if you are not well rested, and the ramifications of that episode may be even more severe, given the stressful time that we forced to live in.

DEPRESSION

It is often noted that individuals with bipolar disorder tend to experience their depressive phase more frequently than their mania on a day to day basis. With our phones, computers and television sets, streaming the news has never been more accessible, or real. There is a constant flow of new information available to us, and most of it is worrisome and disquieting. This information can provoke a worst-case scenario mindset for those with bipolar disorder.

It is important to know that you can find strategies for managing your fixations and anxiety. Methods such as exercise, practicing mindfulness, and avoiding caffeine, drugs and alcohol, may be useful in helping you deal with the abundance of overwhelming news that we face today.

PREPARE

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It is essential to plan. Be sure to set up any appointments that you anticipate needing in the future. Additionally, make sure that you have refills on any medications that you’ll need moving forward. If you are having a difficult time putting a plan into fruition, or simply want someone else to go over your plans with you, contact a family member or friend. Do your best to follow own strategies for staying healthy and well. Whatever you feel is necessary to stay on the path of wellness, make it a part of your routine and stick with it.

If you are struggling more than usual, make an appointment with your provider. Discuss options for emergency services if more immediate care becomes needed. Don’t be afraid to reach out to close friends or family for support in the meantime, they are there for you.

KEEP A “CHECK-IN” FRIEND

While social distancing does appear to be working, sometimes it is difficult to be stuck inside with yourself all day. If you are bipolar, often your friends can help to monitor your mood and actions. Because we are all unable to socialize with one another, it is important to find a “check-in” friend. This person should be someone that you trust who is able to call or chat with you once or twice a day and see how you are doing.

Do your best to remain calm, follow the CDC guidelines, as well as your own, and be well. You are not alone in this.

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