For most people, some combination of lifestyle changes, therapy, medication, and support are helpful for treating bipolar disorder. Some of these are more effective than others for certain people. It may take some time to discover what works for you, but it is worth it.
Many habits can impact your mental health. Making sure you get regular sleep, eat a healthy diet, and exercise regularly can help a lot. Some people benefit from reducing or eliminating the use of caffeine, alcohol, or drugs. Meditation, yoga, and spiritual practices can be helpful as well. Pay attention to simple things, like taking time to take care of yourself, trying activities you enjoy, and spending time with people or environments where you feel supported.
It’s also important to understand what your own manic and depressive episodes look like. That way you can catch yourself and intervene before things spiral out of control.
Therapy can be a great way to learn how to manage bipolar disorder, and to talk with someone openly and honestly. Find a therapist who has experience with and knowledge about bipolar disorder, and anything else you might need help with. This could include trauma, addiction, or family issues. Specific types of therapy that can help are Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), and family-focused therapies. Group therapy is also an option.
Another option is to take medications. Medications designed to treat bipolar disorder are called mood stabilizers, and they do exactly that—stabilize your moods, so that your manic and depressive episodes are reduced or eliminated. Some people with bipolar disorder also take antidepressants or anxiety medications.
Medications affect everyone differently, so not every medication will work well for you, and many of them will have side-effects. You’ll need to work with your doctor to find a medication that works for you. It’s also common to take multiple medications, to target different symptoms or to counteract side-effects.
It’s important to find support from others. This can come through family, friends, professionals, or support groups. Support groups are made up of individuals with similar experiences, who meet regularly to discuss their experiences. Talking to people who are going through the same things can make you feel less alone and more connected. It also creates a space where people can share what has worked for them and talk through their struggles with people who understand.