There are several triggers for episodes of Bipolar Disorder. In 'Triggers for Bipolar Episodes – Part One,' we will discuss the first four triggers. In Parts Two and Three of the series, we will discuss the rest of the episode triggers.

Trigger #1—Problems with Sleep and/or Poor Sleep Quality: Problems with sleep (too much or too little) or poor sleep quality are one of the first symptoms of a bipolar episode. In addition, if even when you do sleep, the quality of that sleep is not good enough, you will experience problems as well. Being unable to 'turn off your thoughts,' can trigger a manic episode. Staying up too late at night watching television or chatting on the Internet will instigate an inability to go to sleep when you do want to, and may also trigger a manic cycle. Depression over a death in the family or other tragedy may make you want to sleep too much (a symptom of a bipolar depressive episode), or you may get too little sleep because of negative, depressive thoughts that you 'cannot turn off,' which can trigger you to have a manic episode.

Trigger #2—Increase in Stress: An increase in stress, whatever the cause, can be a trigger to a bipolar episode. Stress can be caused by something as simple as a change in routine, because people with Bipolar Disorder tend to depend on routine as a major part of the stabilization process of their Bipolar Disorder. Medication works to stabilize their moods; however, regulation of their emotions and routine is part of the self-care that people with Bipolar Disorder do to help manage the disorder for themselves. Problems with managing your stress can be a trigger to an episode, and it is very important that you learn to control, or minimize, your stress.

Trigger #3—Physical Problems: Physical illness can be a trigger to an episode for someone with Bipolar Disorder. In addition to increased stress on the body, it can mean problems with medication. Be sure to check with your doctor before going on any medication for a physical illness—make sure any new medication you take will have no contraindications; that it will not interfere with the medication that you are already taking for your Bipolar Disorder—especially if you are being asked to go off your bipolar medication to take the prescription for your physical illness. Going off your medication is a very serious consideration, and can not only be an episode trigger, but can also be a life-threatening proposition, which you must discuss with your psychiatrist and/or doctor.

Trigger #4—Alcohol and Substance Abuse: Alcohol and substance abuse are almost instant triggers to a bipolar episode. They will not only interfere with your emotional state of mind, but they will interfere with your bipolar medication. You will not only have to deal with a bipolar episode, but you will also have to deal with addiction issues, as well with other personal issues surrounding relationships with loved ones and, possibly, issues surrounding your job and other issues. There are very serious consequences, not only episode triggers, to be dealt with when abusing alcohol and drugs when you have Bipolar Disorder.