Bipolar disorder is a mental illness characterized by extreme mood swings.  It is inevitable that you or your loved one will go into a depressive episode at some time; therefore you must have a plan in place.

 

Here is an example of a depressive episode safety plan that you can place on your refrigerator or other place where it can be easily seen:

 

Bipolar Depressive Episode Safety Plan

 

  • STAY SAFE (however you have to)—stay in your safety zone.

 

  • Do not be alone if at all possible (be around someone who is aware of the depressive symptoms of bipolar disorder and can help you control them).

 

  • Be accountable to someone who will know you are in an episode, will make sure you take your medication, and will sit and listen to you.

 

  • Make sure you take your medication and on schedule, and that you keep appointments with your doctor, psychiatrist and therapist.

 

  • Do not make any major decisions – or even any minor ones (if you can help it).

 

  • Although you may have suicidal thoughts, understand that they are coming from the depressive episodes and talk to someone about them, or call 1-800-SUICIDE or 1-800-442-HOPE.

 

  • You may be sleeping too much, but this is one of the symptoms of bipolar disorder.  There are things you can do about this—talk to your psychiatrist, therapist, or doctor about it.  It is probably just a temporary problem because of the depression.

 

  • If you can’t find someone to talk to, there are chat rooms on the Internet where others experiencing bipolar depressive episodes will understand how you are feeling.

 

  • Take care of your personal needs (grooming, eating, exercising, sleeping, etc.).

 

  • HALT (never get too Hungry, Angry, Lonely, or Tired).

 

  • Although this may be difficult when you are depressed, try to do what you would normally enjoy (read, watch television/movies, go to your Support Group, etc.)

 

  • Do what you can to improve your mood (take a bath, read inspiring books, listen to soothing music, walk to enjoy your surroundings, garden, meditate, practice your hobbies, etc.).

 

  • Remember the deceptive nature of your thoughts and feelings during a depressive episode (your mood will improve as the episode lifts).

 

  • Keep in mind that this is only a temporary situation, and do not do anything that has permanent consequences.

 

  • Tell yourself that “Nothing is as bad as it seems,” “This too shall pass,” “Every cloud has a silver lining,” and any other positive thoughts you can use to replace your negative thoughts. 

 

  • Remember that:   NEGATIVE THOUGHTS ARE ONLY TEMPORARY WHEN YOU ARE IN A BIPOLAR DEPRESSIVE EPISODE. 

 

IMPORTANT PHONE NUMBERS:

 

SUICIDE HOTLINE:  1-800-SUICIDE or 1-800-442-HOPE

Psychiatrist:

Therapist:

Doctor:

(Etc.)