Mood Swings and Bipolar Disorder

It’s tough to go through the mood swings of bipolar disorder. Depression can make it hard to do the things you want and need to do. During manic periods, you may be reckless and volatile.

The best way to avoid mood swings is to get treatment. You may not be able to totally prevent bouts of mania or depression. Even people who always take their medication and take care of their health can still have mood swings from time to time. That's why it's important to catch changes in your mood, energy levels, and sleeping patterns before they turn into something serious.

Mood Swing Triggers in Bipolar Disorder

At first, mood swings may take you by surprise. But over time, you might start to see patterns or signs that you're entering a period of mania or depression. Aside from a shift in your mood, look for changes in your:

  • Sleep patterns
  • Energy level
  • Alcohol or drug use
  • Sex drive
  • Self-esteem
  • Concentration

Mood episodes in bipolar disorder often happen suddenly, for no particular reason. Sometimes, you may notice that there are specific things that can trigger mania or depression, such as getting too little sleep, changes to your daily routine, or jet lag when you travel. Many people find they're more likely to become depressed or manic during stressful times at work or during holidays. Some people see seasonal patterns to their mood changes.

One good way to spot your triggers is to keep a journal. Make note of big events, stresses, your medication dose, and the amount of sleep you're getting. Over time, you might see some patterns.

Of course, there may be triggers that you just can’t avoid, like a serious illness or the death of a loved one. But if you can recognize the things that are likely to bring on mania or depression, you can prepare for times when you might be most vulnerable. Work with a mental health professional to plan what to do when you think a mood swing might happen. Ask for more help from family and friends. Have them check in more often so you get extra support.

If you see the signs of potential trouble, get help. Don't wait for the mood episode to pass on its own. You might be able to stop a minor change from becoming a serious problem.

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The Appeal of Mania in Bipolar Disorder

When people with bipolar disorder are depressed, they almost always know that something is wrong. Nobody likes feeling that way.

But it's different for people who are manic. Often, they don't think anything is wrong. Or if they notice a difference in their mood and personality, they think it's an improvement.

Mania can be seductive. You might feel more energized, creative, and interesting. You might be able to get tons of work done. So what's the problem?

Manic phases often turn destructive. You might wipe out your savings account on a shopping spree. You might have affairs that ruin your marriage. Most dangerous of all, mania can make you do things that risk your life or the lives of others. And it’s often followed by depression.

Although mania can feel good at the moment, in the long run, you'll be happier, healthier, more productive, and more successful if you can keep a stable mood.

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Joseph Goldberg, MD on 3/, 017

Sources

Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5, American Psychiatric Association. 

The Nations Voice on Mental Illness. 

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA). 

American Psychiatric Association. 

National Institute of Mental Health: "Practice Guideline for the Treatment of Patients with Bipolar Disorder."

Muller-Oerlinghausen, B. The Lancet, Jan. 19, 2002. 

Kaufman, K. Annals of Clinical Psychiatry, June, 2003.

Compton, M. Depression and Bipolar Disorder, ACP Medicine.

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