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Tips for Managing Bipolar Disorder at Work

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Other Tips for Managing Bipolar Disorder at Work

If you have bipolar disorder, there are things you can do to make it easier to succeed at work. For starters, know your symptoms of depression and mania. That way, you can better manage them. See challenges as learning experiences and look for opportunities to learn. Give yourself lots of credit for big and small accomplishments, especially when you persevere through the hard times.

Here are a few other tips that may help you with managing bipolar disorder at work.

Manage stress. Remember to try the following tips at home as well. It’s important to get plenty of down time.

  • Take regular breaks -- before you think you really need them. This is particularly important if your stress levels rise.
  • Try a relaxation exercise, such as deep breathing.
  • Take a walk around the block.
  • Listen to relaxing music.
  • Call a friend.
  • Take time off for counseling.

Make other healthy lifestyle changes. Besides managing your stress well, it’s important to exercise daily, get enough sleep, and eat nutritious meals. If stress is affecting your sleep, it’s definitely time to take steps to get it under control. Think about stress management techniques that have worked well for you in the past. 

Take your medications as prescribed. It may be tempting to go without treating your mania. After all, this is when many people feel most productive. But that can be risky thinking. During mania, you’re more likely to make mistakes and can become irritable, making working relationships challenging.

If you tend to forget your medications, it may help to set a timer or reminder on your computer. Keeping your medication in a plastic container or vitamin bottle can help you guard your privacy.

Keep side effects at bay. Does your medication make you sleepy or jittery at work? It’s not uncommon for people with bipolar disorder to need extra sleep -- 8 to 10 or even up to 12 -- hours a day. Your doctor may be able to change your dosing time or amount to help reduce drowsiness or other side effects at work. Ask about other ways to cope with side effects. For example, taking medication with food can lessen nausea.

Don’t ignore symptoms. Even when you’re doing everything right, you may still have an episode of depression or mania. Act quickly if you feel an episode of depression or mania coming on. Take extra steps to control your stress. Your health care provider can also help guide you to even out your moods. After an episode of depression or mania, be sure to take the time you need to recover. If you’ve taken time off from work, pace yourself as you return. This is a time when working part-time may be the best option.

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