Bipolar disorder is a commonly occurring chronic mental disorder that is marked by its characteristic mood swings. These mood swings alternate between joyful and energetic highs referred to as the manic period, and sad and weary lows referred to as the depression period (1). Most people suffering from bipolar disorder find it difficult to cope with a depressive episode and the severe symptoms of depression can make a person lose all interest in activities they once used to enjoy. Most people find it challenging to get through a regular day when suffering from depressive episodes of bipolar disorder, leave alone having to manage work and household chores as well. However, there are ways in which you can cope with the depressive episodes of bipolar disorder by making certain healthy changes in your life. Let’s take a look at how to treat the depressive episodes of bipolar disorder.
Overview of Depressive Episodes During Bipolar Disorder
Depression is the other half of the cycle of major highs and lows that are associated with bipolar disorder. When you go through these depressive episodes of bipolar disorder, it makes you feel extremely sad, in despair and often leaves you with feelings of hopelessness (2). Depressive episodes also make it difficult to carry out the day-to-day activities and chores you are meant to be doing.
However, the right treatment and certain changes in your life can help you cope better with the depressive episodes of bipolar disorder (2). We take a look at some ways by which you can boost your mood and feel better even during a depressive episode associated with bipolar disorder.
How to Treat the Depressive Episodes of Bipolar Disorder?
Treat depressive episodes of bipolar disorder with these 7 tips:
Follow a Healthy Routine
Being depressed is likely to increase the chances of getting into bad habits. When you are feeling low, you are unlikely to eat even when you are feeling hungry, or you may tend to overeat even after being full. The same theory applies to sleep as well. When you are depressed, you are more likely to either sleep too much or too little (3). Unhealthy sleeping and eating habits are only going to make you feel worse about yourself. This is why having a healthy routine in place will help you get rid of unhealthy habits and adopt healthy habits and helps in coping with depressive episodes of bipolar disorder.
Some of the healthy habits you should consider adopting when suffering from bipolar disorder include:
- Set a particular time for having all your meals and snacks.
- Increase the consumption of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins.
- Having a good night’s sleep is very important to try to get at least seven to eight hours of sleep each night.
- Try to wake up and go to bed at the same time each day.
Schedule Your Day
Having a structure for your day will help keep off your depressive symptoms of bipolar disorder (4). It is a good idea to plan your eating and sleeping schedule and try to also schedule your other activities during the day (4). Having a set time for everything helps give a structure to your day and when you are busy with a schedule, it will help keep your mind off the depressive symptoms of bipolar disorder (4).
While planning your day, it is important that you set aside some time for resting and relaxing. Keep in mind that being too busy can also further aggravate the depressive symptoms and may also cause frustration. It’s important to prioritize your time and take care of yourself. Don’t forget to take your medications and do not miss your doctor appointments when suffering from bipolar disorder.
Try to Partake in Activities You Enjoy
It is important that even though you are feeling depressed or going through a depressive episode of bipolar disorder, you try to continue doing the activities you generally enjoy. When you indulge in activities you enjoy doing, even if you don’t feel like it, it will still make you feel happy and help alleviate the symptoms of depression associated with bipolar disorder (5).
You should not feel afraid of indulging in activities you enjoy doing as they will surely boost your mood and helps in treating the depressive episodes of bipolar disorder. You may fear that while experiencing a depressive episode of bipolar disorder, you may not enjoy these activities, but don’t let this fear stop you from doing these activities.
Doing the activities once again is likely to make you feel better about yourself and also treat the depressive episodes of bipolar disorder.
Remain Physically Active
Staying active physically is very important for battling against depression, including the depressive episodes of bipolar disorder (5). Research has shown that there are certain types of exercises that can help alleviate and treat the symptoms of depressive episodes in bipolar disorder and these exercises include: jogging, biking, swimming and moderate-intensity walking. You should try to exercise at least three to four days in a week for at least half-an-hour at a stretch.
Don’t Shut Yourself Away
When you feel depressed, the last thing you want to do is interact with other people or get involved in any social situations. You want to be left alone. However, by isolating yourself you will only boost the symptoms of depression. When suffering from depressive episodes of bipolar disorder, getting involved in some type of social activity, such as a book club or a gardening club, will help you make friends and remain active at the same time. When you interact with others, it helps you feel more confident about yourself, thus reducing the symptoms of depressive episodes of bipolar disorder to a certain level.
Indulge in Some Stress Relieving Activities
High levels of stress are known to increase your anxiety levels, making you feel even more depressed and hopeless about your overall situation. It is a good idea to try out some new things that can change your usual environment. Though it is understandable that trying our new things is perhaps not the top priority for you when you are suffering from a depressive episode of bipolar disorder, but new stress-relieving activities may make it easier for you to deal with your stress and also ease your irritability.
For example, you can consider getting a massage or try out some yoga classes or try doing some meditation. All these activities are known to be highly beneficial during a depressive episode of bipolar disorder and are also known to help in managing the symptoms of bipolar disorder.
Have a Support System in Place
While your friends and family are always there for you, joining a support group that specifically focuses on people suffering from bipolar disorder will be a great opportunity for you to meet others who have the same condition and symptoms as you (6). Sharing your experiences during the difficult episodes of depression may help you work through the depressive phase in a better way.
Other Steps for Treating the Depressive Episodes of Bipolar Disorder
There are also certain other steps you can take to fight depression and to treat depressive episodes of bipolar disorder and these include:
Avoid Drinking Alcohol Or Using Drugs. You may be tempted to drown your worries in alcohol or use drugs to feel better. While these may make you feel better temporarily, the fact is that they will only worsen your mood and also inhibit your bipolar medications from working properly (7).
Do Not Make Any Major Life Decisions During A Depressive Episode. If needed, apply for some leave from your work so that you do not take any major decisions while you are going through a depressive episode of bipolar disorder. The human brain is not capable of making rational decisions while depressed, especially during a depressive episode of bipolar disorder. What you may think is the best decision of your life, might turn out to be something you truly regret once you get out of depression.
Try Talk Therapy for Treating Depressive Episodes of Bipolar Disorder. It always helps to talk to a mental health professional about what you are feeling and experiencing when going through a depressive episode of bipolar disorder (8).
There is no cure for bipolar disorder, but it is extremely important that you get the proper treatment for the disease, as otherwise it will continue to get worse. You need to follow your treatment plan and also make healthy and positive lifestyle changes that will help you deal with the depressive episodes of bipolar disorder better.
If your doctor feels you are under severe depression, then it might be necessary to undergo temporary hospitalization. Most of the time though you will be capable of managing the symptoms of bipolar disorder by yourself with the help with psychotherapy and proper medication.
Getting through a depressive episode of bipolar disorder is going to be difficult, but is possible. There are many ways to alleviate your symptoms and boost your mood. Do some research to see what kind of activities will make you feel better and don’t forget to keep exercising regularly.
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