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Lifestyle Changes to Manage Bipolar Disorder
by Amy Scholten, MPH
Developing good habits can help you live better with bipolar disorder. Here are some tips:
You may be taking a number of medications. Under certain circumstances, you may be tempted to skip taking them. Remember that it’s extremely important that you take your medications as recommended by your doctor. Do not let it slip your mind, or your symptoms may recur.
Ask your doctor for guidance on when to take your medications. Find out what to do if you miss a dose. To help remember dosing times, use a calendar, sticky notes, or a smartphone app.
Getting adequate sleep on a regular schedule is very effective for preventing mood cycling. Sleep deprivation alters your brain chemistry. It can bring on manic episodes. If you are having sleep problems, discuss them with your doctor. Your doctor may prescribe a medication that will help you sleep better.
Stress can trigger manic attacks. Make sure that you get plenty of rest and relaxation. Try to find a job that you enjoy. Try not to take on more responsibilities than you can handle. A variety of relaxation techniques can help you to cope more effectively with stressors that can trigger your symptoms. You may want to consider meditation, deep breathing, progressive relaxation, yoga, biofeedback, or massage. Make sure you do other activities that you find pleasurable and relaxing.
Eat a healthful diet on a regular basis. Your diet should be low in saturated fat. It should be rich in whole grains, fresh fruits, and vegetables. If your medications cause weight gain, you may need to cut back on your calories.
Exercising on a regular basis can help you to manage stress. It also helps control weight gain that may result from medications, and can help increase feelings of well-being.
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Bipolar disorder in adults. National Institute of Mental Health website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Updated November 2015. Accessed September 12, 2016.
Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). American Psychiatric Association; 2013.
Carson RC, Butcher JN. Abnormal Psychology and Modern Life. 11th ed. New York, NY: Allyn and Bacon; 2000.
Kay-Lambkin FJ, Thornton L, Lappin JM, et al. Study protocol for a systematic review of evidence for lifestyle interventions targeting smoking, sleep, alcohol/other drug use, physical activity, and healthy diet in people with bipolar disorder. Syst Rev. 2016;5(1):106.
Last reviewed September 2016 by Rimas Lukas, MD
Last Updated: 9/17/2014
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