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The term “Bipolar” refers to two major physiological and psychological states of mania and depression. It is a brain disorder causing serious and drastic shifts in mood, energy, thinking and behavior. There are highs of mania on one extreme and the lows of depression on the other one. Bipolar disorder is more than just moods. There is a presence of drastic fluctuations in energy, weight, metabolism and sleep-wake cycle as well. Although it is a chronic and life-long mental disease yet the patient can keep a check on his moods by following a treatment regimen. The treatment plan of bipolar disorder includes medications, psychological counseling, lifestyle change and self-care.
It is crucial for the patient of bipolar disorder to take responsibility of his recovery and maintain a supreme level of self-care. Since bipolar disorder is a triggered disease, a major part of self-care in this disease involves identifying, avoiding and managing the situations, events or activities that can trigger any of the mood episodes of bipolar disorder. It is true that life consists of many ups and downs and one cannot avoid all the triggering situations in life. However, whenever any unavoidable and sudden stressor appears in life, self-care should be the priority of the person with bipolar disorder so that he can minimize the chances of triggering any bipolar episode.
Ms. Amna Nawaz currently works as a clinical psychologist at Willing Ways, Lahore. She has done MS in clinical psychology and B.Sc (Hons.) from GC University, Lahore. Heath counseling, addiction counseling, subjective well-being and intellectual disability are her areas of interest as well as her educational expertise.Earlier, she has also supervised trainee child psychologists working in a special education institute being run by the Government of Punjab.
Editor: Arman Ahmed
There are several common triggers of bipolar episodes of mania or depression that should always be taken under consideration. Sleep deprivation is one of the major triggers of bipolar episode, particularly manic episode. Lack of sleep is a symptom of bipolar episode and also a trigger as well. Staying up late, doing a job with the night shifts, going back to old sleeping patterns, staying up late at night due to weekends, ignoring the signals of decreased need for sleep all are the triggers of bipolar episode.
A bipolar patient should also be mindful about what goes in the body because our eating patterns and the choice of food intake has a direct link with our moods. Excessive amount of caffeine intake such as coffee, tea, fizzy/energy drinks, milk chocolates etc should be taken in moderation as caffeine is a stimulating chemical which disrupts our mood as well as our sleeping patterns. Moreover, stimulating junk food, under-nourished diet and stimulating herbs that interfere with the sleep patterns should also be avoided. Furthermore, mood-altering substances like alcohol or other drugs are the major contributors in the relapse of bipolar episode so they should be avoided as well.