Being diagnosed with bipolar disorder can be devastating because it is a difficult and complex disorder to live with. However, with treatment and management skills it is possible to handle the symptoms and not allow them to interfere with your life. One of the more challenging aspects of bipolar disorder is dealing with manic episodes.
People with bipolar disorder shift between phases of depression and of mania which both have very different sets of symptoms. Most people understand what depression is like and how that can manifest itself in an individual. Mania is a distinct issue that can be just as problematic and make it very difficult to function normally in daily life.
One thing that can make it easier to manage manic episodes is understanding what occurs in your own mania and learning to identify certain warning signs. It can be a good idea to record certain moods and behaviors that tend to occur during and right before a manic episode. When you know your own specific symptoms it can be easier to identify when you are entering the manic phase and start to react with treatment strategies.
Identifying Mania Symptoms and Warning Signs
Every individual with bipolar disorder may experience their mania episodes differently and they will need to get to know the list of their symptoms. Mania can include a number of symptoms that vary depending on the severity of the disorder and the individual person. These are some of the more common symptoms:
- Being abnormally upbeat or jumpy
- Increased energy, activity or agitation
- Inflated ego or exaggerated sense of self-confidence
- Talking rapidly or excessively
- Racing thoughts and inability to focus
- Impulsive behavior such as shopping sprees or making risky investments
If there are certain symptoms that tend to occur when you are experiencing a manic episode then make a list of the ones that affect you the most. When you begin to realize that you are entering a manic phase you might notice these symptoms or certain warning signs that indicate an oncoming episode. Possible warning signs include:
- Needing less sleep
- Feeling unusually happy
- Making unrealistic plans or focusing intensely on a goal
- Feeling easily distracted
- Having feelings of self-importance
Over time you will learn to identify the pattern of your symptoms as well your warning signs so that you will have a better idea of when a manic episode is approaching.
Preventing and Managing Symptoms
Although it may not always be possible, doing everything you can to prevent a manic episode from occurring or growing worse can be helpful in managing bipolar disorder. When you identify warning signs you might become aware of certain triggers that are causing those behaviors to occur. You can try your best to avoid the triggers that might cause a severe mood swing to occur.
Self-care and maintaining a healthy routine can also be very helpful in preventing mood swings and manic episodes from becoming a problem. It is very important for people with bipolar disorder to have regular and stable sleep patterns. Going to bed and waking up at the same time every day can keep your mood stable and prevent chemical changes in your body that could trigger a mood swing.
Because manic episodes often begin with decreased sleep, a healthier sleep pattern can make it easier to identify if your symptoms are developing. Other aspects of daily routine can be important such as eating healthy foods, getting plenty of exercise, and practicing relaxation techniques such as meditation or yoga. These kinds of habits can help keep the body and mind stable so that emotions become less extreme.
If you notice any warning signs of a manic episode taking place, try to pay more attention to your health and focus in on any self-care practices that you may have been neglecting. Under no circumstances should a person with a mental illness like bipolar disorder use alcohol or drugs. Substance abuse can worsen and complicate symptoms and are not useful as a form of self-medication even though you might feel tempted to use them for temporary relief.
Getting Support for Manic Episodes
If you do begin to experience a manic episode, make sure that you have a support network of people that can help you so that your symptoms don’t become too detrimental. Talk to your psychotherapist about what is going on and ask for guidance on how to minimize certain symptoms. Make sure family and friends are aware of the situation and can help you make good decisions if you are struggling with mania.
The most important thing to do when a manic episode occurs is to continue your treatment program, group meetings, therapy sessions or whatever plan you have in place as you manage your disorder. Make sure to contact someone you trust for help if your symptoms are becoming difficult to control.