The Journey To Recovery After A Diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder diagnosis

So, you have been diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder! And now you are wondering what’s next.

As with any diagnosis of illness whether it’s a physical or mental illness, you would be stunned, scared or possibly in denial. The first thing you should do is take time to digest the information you got from your doctor. Take time let it sink in, go home, and think about it. You do not need to rush into doing anything, when absorbing this diagnosis you must remember a diagnosis of bipolar disorder is not the end of the world there are many success stories of patients who sort help, treatment and medication, have recovered and so could you.

Learn about bipolar disorder and depression

It’s important that you learn about the bipolar disorder and depression as well. You know how you feel and you need to understand why you are feeling that way. The more you learn about bipolar disorder, the more you will understand and what this all means to you and your family.

Discuss treatment options

I highly recommend seeing a Psychiatrist for medication options and a clinical psychologist for psychotherapy. However, some psychiatrist do both medicine and psychotherapy the both are very important in the recovery process. Once you have had the chance to accept your diagnosis set up an appointment with your psychiatrist and clinical psychologist. Here you can discuss the best treatment options (medication, therapy) that works best for you. Medication is not a one size fit all, what may work for someone else may not work for you. Only a doctor should give advice concerning medication. 

You may need to make lifestyle changes as well for further information on these changes you can consult with your doctor. Make sure to ask about any side effects that the medication has. There are many medications available so be sure to ask your doctor about the pros and cons of the different kinds of medication. When your doctor recommends specific kinds of medications, ask why.

Write down your questions

After you visit to your doctor, you will most likely think of questions you didn’t ask during your session. Use a small notebook include any questions you might need to ask your doctor, you can take this with you to every doctor’s appointment to be sure you’re getting your questions answered.

From now until the end of January I will be doing blogs on bipolar disorder. I have received many request for answers on this disorder. I think it would be beneficial for those with the disorder and for people who have loved ones with the disorder.

Any questions, queries and concerns regarding mental illness please feel free to leave a comment or you can drop me an email. mhcoachingonline@gmail.com

Diagnosing Bipolar Disorder

How Is Bipolar Disorder Diagnosed?

One important thing to know is how mental illnesses are diagnosed and what to expect on your visit to your doctor. In order to be diagnosed with bipolar disorder, a mental health professional must form a diagnosis and to do this a person must first meet the diagnostic criteria for Bipolar Disorder. The diagnostic criteria is found in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual Of Mental illnesses (DSM-5).

Have you been experiencing mental health issues and you believe you may meet the criteria for bipolar disorder and not sure what to expect on your visit to the doctor?

I cannot stress enough how important it is for you be open and honest with your doctor about your symptoms and how it’s affecting you daily. Do not be shy or ashamed, your main focus should be on treatment, recovery and healing and nothing should get in the way of taking care of you. It’s ok to ask for help, if you are nervous or if you feel you can’t do this on your own ask a trusted family member or a close friend to go with you.

3d Bipolar disorder background

In order for someone to be diagnosed with bipolar disorder first he/she must meet the criteria for diagnosis.

What to expect!

Diagnosing Bipolar Disorder

The most important diagnostic tool may be talking openly with the doctor about your mood swings, behaviors, and lifestyle habits.

While a physical examination can reveal a patient’s overall state of health, the doctor must hear about the bipolar signs and symptoms from the patient in order to effectively diagnose and treat bipolar disorder.

What does a doctor need to know to diagnose bipolar disorder?

bipolar disorder diagnosis is made only by taking careful note of symptoms, including their severity, length, and frequency. “Mood swings” from day to day or moment to moment do not necessarily indicate a diagnosis of bipolar disorder. Rather, the diagnosis hinges on having periods of unusual elevation or irritability in mood that are coupled with increases in energy, sleeplessness, and fast thinking or speech. The patient’s symptoms are fully assessed using specific criteria from the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders  (DSM-5).

In making the diagnosis of bipolar disorder, the psychiatrist or other mental health expert will ask you questions about your personal and family history of mental illness and bipolar disorder or other mood disorders. Because bipolar disorder sometimes has a genetic component, family history can be helpful in making a diagnosis. (Most people with bipolar disorder, however, do not have a family history of bipolar disorder.) Also, the doctor will ask detailed questions about your bipolar symptoms. Other questions may focus on reasoning, memory, ability to express yourself, and ability to maintain relationships.

Your doctor may have you fill out a mood questionnaire or checklist to help guide the clinical interview when he or she assesses mood symptoms. In addition, your doctor may order blood and urine tests to rule out other causes of your symptoms. In a toxicology screening, blood, urine, or hair are examined for the presence of drugs. Blood tests also include a check of thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) level, since depression is sometimes linked to thyroid function. Now that you have gotten this far, one of the most difficult part is over, now it’s time to work on the proper treatment and medication with your therapist and psychiatrist and you’re on your way to recovery.

If you have any questions queries or concerns about bipolar disorder or any mental health issues please feel free to leave a comment or drop me an email I would be happy to assist in anyway I can.

Disclaimer: I do not diagnose or treat mental illness, the information provided above is strictly for information purposes only.

Early Signs of Bipolar Disorder

How can someone tell that they are experiencing early signs of Bipolar disorder?

I have been asked a on a number of occasions how can someone tell if they’re experiencing early signs of bipolar disorder. Although, I am for the idea of early detection it would be in your best interest to seek the help of a licensed mental health professional before you or anyone seek self-diagnosis. However, it is very important to equip yourself with the basic knowledge of signs and symptoms of mental illnesses. The website information should be used for information purposes only. Any symptoms that you have been experiencing should be consulted with mental health professional.

With that being said I have put together a short list of early signs of Bipolar disorder.

With Bipolar you can become depressed, you may feel sad or hopeless and lose interest or pleasure in most activities. When your mood shifts to mania or hypomania (less extreme than mania), you may feel euphoric, full of energy or unusually irritable. These mood swings can affect sleep, energy, activity, judgment, behavior and the ability to think clearly.

Early Signs of Bipolar Disorder:

  • Abnormally upbeat, jumpy or wired.
  • Increased activity, energy or agitation.
  • Exaggerated sense of well-being and self-confidence (euphoria)
  • Decreased need for sleep.
  • Unusual talkativeness.
  • Racing thoughts.
  • Distractibility.

If you or anyone you know are experiencing these symptoms should seek the help of a licensed Clinical Psychologist or Psychiatrist with regards to diagnosis, treatment and medication.

Any questions, queries or concerns with regards to mental illness, please feel free to leave a comment or send me and email.

8 Ways to Calm Hypomania

8 ways to calm your hypomania

What is Hypomania?

Mania and hypomania symptoms of similar but mania is more intense. So if you have experience hypomania or mania you may have Bipolar Disorder.

Hypomania is a milder form of mania. If you’re experiencing hypomania, your energy level is higher than normal, but it’s not as extreme as in mania. Other people will notice if you have hypomania. It causes problems in your life, but not to the extent that mania can. If you have hypomania, you won’t need to be hospitalized for it.

Self-help strategies that maybe useful

Psychotherapy and antipsychotic drugs may help reduce the symptoms of both mania and hypomania. Lifestyle changes and self-help strategies may also help you cope with your symptoms as well.

Below I have listed some ways to combat symptoms of Hypomania

Self-Help for Hypomania – How to Calm Down Your Hypomania

Here are some things to consider if you’re hypomanic and you want to calm down:

  1. Try meditating. Now, meditating isn’t for everyone and if you try to start meditating when you’re hypomanic, you’re likely to fail, but if you have a regular mindfulness meditation practice, now would be the time to put it into action.
  2. Exercise. Exercise overall is useful for physical and mental health, and many many studies prove this to be true. In regard to hypomania some people find that they can “burn off” their hypomanic energy through exercise. You could try something cardio-intensive to burn off energy or try something like calming like yoga to try to bring yourself down directly.
  3. Try progressive muscle relaxation. Progressive muscle relaxation is sort of like meditating but it’s easier because it’s physical and It’s really simple. Lie on the floor and simply work from the top of your body to the bottom or the bottom to the top and clench each muscle as hard as you can for five seconds and then release. Then move on to the next muscle. This will progressively relax your entire body. Do it more than once if you need to.
  4. Take your PRN medication. PRN medication is taken “as needed.” , it has medications that you can take when things get bumpy. Typically this medication is a benzodiazepine (like Ativan) or an antipsychotic (like Seroquel). These medications can be used to calm a hypomania or even to induce sleep.
  5. Use blue light-blocking glasses. Blue light is the type of light that tells your brain it’s time to wake up and be energetic and this is exactly the wrong message to give if you’re hypomanic. And the trouble is, if you’re reading this right now, you’re making it worse because electronics all emit a fair amount of blue light (as do the lighting fixtures in your home). The solution is simple though: just pop on a pair of blue light-blocking glasses. They’re cheap on Amazon and you can get a pair that can fit over your existing glasses if you need them. (These are also great every night when you’re calming down to go to bed. Wear them an hour before bedtime in help induce sleep.)
  6. Remove distractions. Hypomania may make you want to seek distractions and stimuli. Don’t listen to this urge. Instead, turn off lights, turn the volume down on the television, turn music off and do something simple, if you can, like read a book, write in your journal or pet or play with your cat or dog.
  7. Practice deep breathing. When your hypomanic force your body to slow down with deep breathing that can affect how fast your brain is moving.
  8. Sleep. If you allow your hypomania to block your sleep you know you are going to get out of control very quickly so you know that sleep is essential for you. When you are hypomanic, you have to take extra medication to sleep, but it’s worth it when you wake up the next day in a semi-normal state.

These calming strategies are intended to be used in conjunction or one after the another. Please don’t overwhelm yourself and try to do all at once instead try one at a time and see how it works for you.

Any questions, queries or concerns, please feel free leave a comment below or drop me an email.

Cognitive Functions That Fails Due To Lack Of Sleep

What Is Sleep Deprivation?

Sleep deprivation occurs when a person is not able to get enough sleep. The amount of sleep needed to feel refreshed and function well depends on the individual and varies across the ages. Getting enough sleep every night is important. Some experts also believe that sleep gives our body a chance to repair itself, so the lack of sleep can have harmful health effects.

Lack of sleep affects your mental and your physical health. It doesn’t affect only your mental functions.

The image above lists the effects of lack of sleep or sleep deprivation

I answer questions daily on Quora about psychiatric illnesses. Recently, one of my followers sent me an Ask to Answer request. What mental health function fails first due to lack of sleep? I would say Cognitive Functions are the first to fail. The information I provide on my site and on Quora are researched and based on my knowledge, qualification and experience in the field of Psychology.

When I read this question I remembered the study of the 16 year old that didn’t sleep for 11 days and 24 minutes straight as part of a sleep deprivation experiment.

The Sleep Deprivation Experiment

Back in 1965, 16-year-old high school student Randy Gardner stayed awake for 11 days and 24 minutes – that’s 264.4 hours straight.

The results of the sleep deprivation experiment

Physiological and cognitive tests began to reveal. After just two days of zero sleep, Gardner’s eyes struggled to remain focussed, he showed some signs of ataxia – an inability to repeat simple tongue twisters – and he found it difficult to identify objects based purely on touch. By day three, he became moody and uncoordinated, and by day five he started hallucinating.

From there he experienced trouble concentrating, forming short-term memories, and became paranoid, and irritable.

Findings by day 11:

“Expressionless appearance, speech slurred and without intonation; had to be encouraged to talk to get him to respond at all. His attention span was very short and his mental abilities were diminished.

In a serial sevens test, where the respondent starts with the number 100 and proceeds downward by subtracting seven each time, Gardner got back to 65 (only five subtractions) and then stopped. When asked why he had stopped he claimed that he couldn’t remember what he was supposed to be doing.”

So why is sleep so important for our mental health?

There is clear evidence that sleep deprivation has a negative effect on emotion and performance. A night of restful sleep may ‘reset’ brain reactivity in order to prepare for emotional challenges the next day. Sleep has an important restorative function in ‘recharging’ the brain at the end of each day, just like we need to charge a mobile phone battery after prolonged use. Maintaining a regular sleep-wake cycle allows the natural rhythm of the body to be reset every day and therefore optimises brain functioning.

Ongoing poor sleep can be a huge risk factor for the development of major depressive disorder. The risk of feeling depressed and/or anxious (as well as worsening existing anxiety and depression) increases with the severity of insomnia.

The information I provide on my site and on Quora are researched and based on my knowledge, qualification and experience in the field of Psychology.

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