Bipolar Disorder is a mental health condition in which patients alternate between episodes of manic (euphoric) and depressive moods. Sometimes there are periods of stability between the mood swings.

Bipolar Disorder Overview

Mental health experts suspect a chemical imbalance in the brain is behind Bipolar Disorder. Because the symptoms overlap with other mental health conditions, especially depression, physicians often misdiagnose it. Unfortunately, this delays the start of appropriate treatment.

Bipolar Disorder begins at a younger age than depression and may affect children more severely than adults. Having Bipolar Disorder takes a significant toll on relationships with friends, family, and coworkers.

Bipolar Treatment Options

Individuals with Bipolar Disease generally take mood-stabilizing medications and may also undergo psychotherapy. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) teaches you how to develop coping strategies and to learn to recognize impending mood shifts so you can take action, such as removing yourself from a stressful situation. CBT is especially effective in combination with medication.

Managing Bipolar Disorder

You can take steps to manage Bipolar Disorder. Most importantly, take your medications as prescribed, stay involved in your treatment, and keep your doctor appointments. Seek care from a mental health professional who has experience treating patients with this condition.

Stress and bipolar disorder go hand in hand; each can trigger and exacerbate the other. The brain’s biochemical imbalance makes bipolar individuals more vulnerable to emotional and physical stressors and impairs patients’ cognition (understanding) when they’re under stress or in a manic mood swing. Even mild stress can worsen cognitive symptoms.

Keep a daily log of your moods and emotions, symptoms, sleep, and medications. You’ll learn what things triggers stress so you can avoid them or develop effective coping strategies. Seasonal changes, lack of sleep, and difficulties at work or at home can all trigger a bipolar mood episode. Consider incorporating one or more stress-management techniques into your routine, such as deep breathing exercises, meditation, hypnosis, or yoga. Building structure in your life will also help minimize stress.

It’s important to take care of yourself. Eat a healthy diet, exercise (it’s great for improving mood, reducing stress, and lessening the variation between highs and lows) and avoid alcohol, smoking, sugar, and other unhealthy substances. Sugar can trigger a short-term high, which is detrimental to someone with a mood disorder. Get plenty of sleep; lack of sleep is a common bipolar trigger. Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, and avoid caffeine and other stimulants before bedtime.



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

Bowden, Charles L., M.D. “Strategies to reduce misdiagnosis of Bipolar Depression.” Psychiatric Services 52 (2001):51-55. Web.

“Managing Bipolardisorder: Misdiagnosis and Quality of Life. “The American Journal of Managed Care 11 (2005): S267. Web. 9 October 2005. “Bipolar Support and Self-Help.” Web.

American Psychological Association. “Consistent routines may ease bipolar disorder.” Monitor 39(2) (2008): 10. Web.