Bipolar depression can be a hard thing to deal with. Bipolar depression occurs after a manic or hypomanic phase of bipolar disorder. It doesn’t always happen after a manic phase. Manic phases can happen on their own, as can bipolar depression.
The purpose of this article is to offer tips on how to manage bipolar depression. There are several things I have done that are helpful to deal with bipolar depression.
First is taking a low dose of an antidepressant and a mood stabilizer or antipsychotic medication if needed. Mental health treatment providers don’t always prescribe antidepressants to deal with bipolar depression because they can kick someone’s mood into mania. I’m on the lowest dose possible of a particular antidepressant, which has worked out fine for me. My moods have leveled out since I started on it.
Second, and I believe this is very important, try to catch the mood change early. If you are coming off a manic phase, watch out for signs of bipolar depression. According to the Mayo Clinic, signs of bipolar depression can include sadness, hopelessness, and lack of interest in daily activities. You may want to sleep a lot or not get out of bed.
Third, it is important to ask loved ones or friends to tell you if they notice any mood changes in you. Then, you can act on this information—for example, by seeking out the help of your mental health team. In my case, I have found that the depression sneaks up on me. It is so subtle that I don’t notice it at first. However, other people can notice it, and that is why it is important to have a trusted loved one or friend monitor your moods.
Fourth, when I have been depressed after a manic or hypomanic phase, I learned to seek out the help of my mental health team. I usually talk to my therapist first, as I talk to him every week anyway. I then talk to my psychiatrist over the phone. Sometimes I talk to my psychiatrist first if I sense a medication change may be needed. My psychiatrist can then order a new medication or adjust the dose of a current one, as happened recently.
Fifth, confiding in a trusted friend or family member helps. Another option is to join a support group in your area, such as the ones that NAMI offers. If you don’t have friends or family members who understand what you’re going through, support groups can really help. And they’re free!
Sixth, meditation is another thing that helps. I am learning the practice of meditation. Even ten minutes a day is helpful. One easy technique is to breathe in for a count of three and then breathe out on a count of seven. This can be done at any time. Or find an open-minded faith community that you feel comfortable attending. These are not easy to find, but they do exist!
Finally, exercise helps with depression. According to the New York Times, even ten minutes a day of walking can help. Walking is not helpful only for depression but is an easy exercise to keep the body healthy. Or find something else you enjoy doing. There are classes of different types on YouTube, for example, yoga classes. Yoga can be done at home very easily. Or try an online aerobics or tai chi class! There are lots of options out there.
In summary, these are my tips for dealing with bipolar depression: 1) catch it early; 2) talk to your mental health team as soon as possible; 3) ask loved ones to tell you if they notice mood changes; 4) seek out the help of your mental health team; 5) confide in a friend or family member, or join a support group; 6) meditation; 7) exercise.
And remember, your depression will lift eventually!
If you or someone you know experiences mental health issues, it is important to seek help from a qualified professional. Our Resource Specialist can help you find expert mental health resources to recover in your community. Contact us now for more information on this free service to our users.
About the Author: Kate Fennell has been working in Peer Support at Capitol Region Mental Health Center in Hartford, CT, for over 20 years. She enjoys playing with her cat, exploring spiritual pursuits, exercising, reading and writing.
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February is Black History Month, a time for celebrating the outstanding achievements of Blacks and African Americans and their central role in US history. It is also a time to recognize the struggles Black people have faced throughout the history of our nation and give tribute to the strength and resilience of generations of Black Americans who have risen above adversity.
Black History Month originated from an idea by Harvard-educated historian Carter G. Woodson, who wrote the Journal of Negro History in 1916 to herald the achievements of overlooked African Americans in US history and culture. In 1926 he led an effort by the Association for the Study of Afro-American Life and History (ASALH) to officially declare the second week of February as “Negro History Week.” These dates align with the birthdays of two crucial figures in Black American history: Abraham Lincoln (February 12, 1809), who signed the Emancipation Proclamation officially ending slavery in the United States, and the Black American abolitionist and author Frederick Douglass (February 14, 1818), an escaped slave who is widely considered the most influential civil and human rights advocate of the 19th century. In 1976, President Gerald Ford gave official governmental recognition to the observance by declaring February “Black History Month.”
Without the contributions of Blacks and African Americans to more than 500 years of US history, culture, entertainment and the arts, science, athletics, industry and the economy, public service, and the Armed Forces, we would not be the country we are today.
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