After you have been diagnosed with the bipolar disorder, are taking medications or undergoing medication trials, and seeing a therapist, you will discover that there are other things you can do that may assist you with this disorder.

First of all, be sure you are diagnosed and treated for *all* disorders. The bipolar disorder many times accompanies other disorders.

Bipolar disorder (BP), or manic depression as some still call it, is a chronic disorder that may disable you in certain or all areas of your life. In fact, it is common for "breakthroughs" of depression, mania or mixed episodes to occur even though one is taking medications for this disorder. Many factors of these "breakthroughs" can be both a trigger and a symptom. Lack of sleep is one example.

The following are some ways that may help you to reduce manic and depressive episodes. To what extent these self care activities help, I do not know.

Daily Schedule

Eating Habits

Keeping yourself on a daily schedule is vital. It is important to eat 3 meals a day or eat small amounts throughout the day. Eating one meal later on in the day has been said to make your BP harder to treat. This new eating schedule will also assist you with weight loss that many of us face with our medications.

Sleep Schedule

It is imperative that you stay on a schedule regarding your sleep. Go to bed at the same time every night and get up at the same time. Lack of sleep can trigger mania.

Many of us with the BP have difficulty leaving our enjoyable project due to having the BP to go to bed and get the rest we need. We need to sleep at least 6 hours a day, depending upon how much your body needs.

Mood Chart

Keeping a mood chart daily can be invaluable by helping you and your Dr. determine which medications are helping, etc. Also, it is important for you to keep one so that you can learn to identify your triggers. Is it stress or something else?

Stress

Managing your stress is extremely important as stress can easily trigger "an episode." Learn what works to reduce your stress.

This could include: exercise, meditation, deep breathing, guided imagery, soft music, etc.

Remove yourself from all stressful situations when possible.

Exercise

Exercise helps to reduce depression, especially aerobics, and also helps to rid yourself of manic extra energy. If you are just starting out and not in good shape, be sure and see your Dr. before you begin your exercise regimen.

In regards to aerobic exercise, I have noticed a great deal of difference in my moods, my stability, my outlook on life, my energy level and I sleep so well. I have slept this restful since I was a young child.

You will note at the website below that aerobic exercise has been rated very high as an effective treatment for bipolar disorder.

Avoid
  • Caffeine
  • Alcohol/Illicit Drugs
  • Smoking
  • Toxic People and/or Negative People
  • Stress
  • Antihistamines
  • Forgetting Your Medicines (If you are like me you take them more than once a day).
Vitamins and Herbs

I do not recommend these in lieu of medication. Bipolar disorder is a medical disorder requiring a lifetime of medication. Many people literally gamble with their lives by thinking that vitamins, herbs and nutritional supplements can be taken *instead of* medication. This attitude opens one up to episodes of mania and depression.I do not know if Vitamins and Herbs will assist you. I am not a Dr., nor a nutritionist. You will have to make your own judgment.

Omega 3 Fatty Acids - "fish oil"There has been a study of whether or not the addition of these fatty acids to the diet will make a difference in bipolar disorder. The study was promising that there was indeed a difference, however the study was limited and more studies need to be done.

(There are some Drs. who say fish oil does not help). In fact, some Drs. will say that the below nutritional support will not help.

Free Form Amino Acid Complex (Take on empty stomach as directed on label, twice daily)

L-Tyrosine (500 mg. twice daily and again at bedtime. Take on empty stomach. Do not take with milk. Take with 50 mg. vitamin b6 and 100 mg. vitamin C for better absorption.

Taurine (500 mg. 3 times daily on an empty stomach).

High quality multivitamin, multimineral formula (including zinc and selenium) with plenty of B vitamins. Take at least twice, preferably three times daily. No Iron!

Zinc: (50 mg. daily; do not exceed 100 mg daily from all supplements).

Pyridoxyl-5-phospate (a special forum of vitamin B6) - take 50 milligrams per day.

Vitamin B Complex (100 mg 3 times daily)

Vitamin B 12 (15 mg twice daily on an empty stomach)

Extra Magnesium - 350 - 500 milligrams per day. (Another source says 750 milligrams per day). Do not use magnesium oxide as it is poorly absorbed. Magnesium glycinate, citrate, or chloride are acceptable. If you get diarrhea, decrease the dose. Check with your Dr. before taking magnesium supplements if you have kidney disease.

Take calcium (1,500 mg daily) if you do not eat diary products regularly

Vitamin C: 3,000 - 6,000 mg. daily

For people who have only a very mild unipolar depression, St. John's wort or 5-HTP *might* be helpful. It takes 6 to 8 weeks for St. John's wort to begin to work and it is not recommended for women trying to become pregnant or for someone with a family history of breast cancer.

5-HTP works faster and is recommended for people who are more agitated and cannot sleep. 5-HTP is expensive as large doses are many times required.SAMe is another alternative if the person can afford it.

Bright light therapy is also recommended even if the person does not have SAD (seasonal affective disorder). An inexpensive method of bright light that is helping many people are "grow lights" that are available at stores such as Walmart or Kmart. Many people are reporting feeling better with these light sources.

Diet: lean protein such as chicken, lean red meat, turkey and complex carbohydrates (most should come from vegetables, fruits and some grains). Avoid sugar and saturated fat. Also avoid alcohol, dairy products, caffeine, carbonated beverages, food colorings, flavorings, preservatives and other additives.

Food allergies can aggravate mood swings.

If You Become Manic or Irritable

Turn the lights down. No loud sounds. Remove yourself from a stressful situation. Take any medication your Dr. recommends. Call Dr. if needed. Slow deep breathing. Close your eyes and do some guided imagery. Imagine yourself in a safe, beautiful place where you are completely relaxed.

Remedyfind (an unbiased, international site that allows individuals and healthcare professionals to rate the effectiveness of the different treatments they have used for specific health conditions - including Bipolar Disorder and Depression). I strongly encourage you to check out this site as people have rated different treatment methods for several different disorders, the bipolar disorder as well, as to how effective each one is.