5 Tips for Managing Your Bipolar Triggers

Bipolar disorder is characterized by alternating extremes in mood, energy, activity levels, and ability to function day-to-day. Living with this disease can leave you feeling helpless at times. While bipolar disorder is not curable, it is treatable and manageable.

External events often trigger a bipolar mood episode. You can minimize a bipolar episode and maintain some control over your life with a bit of planning and being aware of your environment.

Here are a few suggestions for managing your bipolar triggers.

1. Keep a regular routine. Building structure in your life can help stabilize your moods. In studies, people with bipolar disorder who participated in behavioral therapy designed to improve regularity in their daily routines averted new episodes longer than those who just focused on regulating their mood symptoms and medications.

2. Get plenty of sleep. We all have an internal (circadian) clock that controls many of our biological functions, including when to eat and sleep. People with bipolar disorder often have overly sensitive circadian rhythms and lack of sleep is a common bipolar trigger. Experts recommend you go to bed and get up the same time every day, and avoid caffeine, exercise, and other stimulants before bedtime.

3. Maintain a healthy lifestyle. Eating right and exercising regularly are critical to maintaining good physical and emotional health. In fact, exercise can significantly improve your mood and lessen the variation between the highs and lows. Include sufficient omega-3 fatty acids in your diet and avoid alcohol and drugs. While some stress in life is inevitable, do what you can to minimize unnecessary stress and practice relaxation techniques such as deep breathing exercises or yoga.

4. Learn your personal warning signs. Stress, seasonal changes, lack of sleep, and difficulties at work or at home can all trigger a bipolar mood episode. Keep a daily mood log and chart your emotions, symptoms, sleep, medications, and anything else that affects your mood. You'll begin to spot patterns, making you more aware of potential triggers so you can try to stop a mood episode before it starts.

5. Take personal responsibility. You didn't choose bipolar disorder, but you can choose how you live with it. Learn as much as you can about the disease so you can make informed decisions about treatment. Find support among family, friends, and others (consider joining a support group), and ask for help when you need it. Take your medications as prescribed, stay involved in your treatment, and keep your doctor appointments.


National Institutes of Health. National Institute of Mental Health. "Bipolar Disorder. Web. 4 June 2010.


Helpguide.org. "Bipolar Support and Self-Help." Web.


American Psychological Association. "Consistent routines may ease bipolar disorder." Monitor 39(2) (2008): 10. Web. http://www.apa.org/monitor/feb08/consistent.aspx