The more you know about
bipolar disorder, the better you will be able to cope
with this lifelong illness. There are many steps that you can take—or help a
loved one take—to recognize and better manage manic episodes.
Learn the warning signs of a manic episode, and
get early treatment to avoid disruption in your life.
At the same
time each day, record your mood and any symptoms.
Take medicines as
instructed by your doctor to help reduce the number of manic
To help prevent a manic episode, avoid triggers such as
caffeine, alcohol or drug use, and stress.
Exercise, eat a
balanced diet, get a good night's sleep, and keep a consistent schedule. This can help
reduce minor mood swings that can lead to more severe episodes of
Have an action plan in place so that if you do have a manic
episode, those who support you can follow the plan and keep you safe.
Know the warning signs
Learn to recognize your early warning signs. One of the most important ways to
avoid a manic episode is to identify early signs and seek treatment.
Common early warning signs of
a manic episode include:
Needing less sleep.
Feeling unusually happy, irritable, or
Making unrealistic plans or focusing intensely on a
Being easily distracted and having racing
Having unrealistic feelings of
Becoming more talkative.
The best way to
manage bipolar disorder is to prevent manic episodes. Although that is not
always possible, you can identify and try to avoid the triggers that may
lead to a mood swing. One of the most important aspects of managing your
illness is to stay on a routine, particularly keeping a stable sleep pattern.
Managing a manic episode
Maintain a stable sleep pattern. Go to bed
about the same time each night, and wake up around the same time each morning.
Too much or too little sleep or changes in your normal sleep patterns can alter
the chemicals in your body. And this can trigger mood changes or make your
Stay on a daily routine.
Plan your day around a fairly predictable routine. For example, eat meals at
regular times, and make exercise or other physical activity a part of your daily
schedule. You might also practice meditation or another relaxation technique each
night before bed.
Set realistic goals.
Having unrealistic goals can set you up for disappointment and frustration,
which can trigger a manic episode. Do the best you can to manage your illness. But expect and be prepared for occasional setbacks.
Do not use alcohol or illegal drugs. It may be tempting to use
alcohol or drugs to help you get through a manic episode. But this can make
symptoms worse. Even one drink can interfere with sleep, mood, or medicines
used to treat bipolar disorder.
Get help from family and friends. You may need help from your family or friends during
a manic episode, especially if you have trouble telling the difference between
what is real and what is not real (psychosis). Having a plan in place before
any mood changes occur will help your support network help you make
Reduce stress at home and at work. Try to keep regular hours at work or at school. Doing a good job
is important, but avoiding a depressive or manic mood episode is more
important. If stress at work, school, or home is a problem, counseling may help
improve the situation and decrease stress.
Keep track of your mood every day. After you know
your early warning signs, check your mood daily to see whether you may be
heading for a mood swing. Write down your symptoms in a journal. Or record them
on a chart or a calendar. When you see a pattern or warning signs of a mood
swing, seek treatment.
It can be tempting to stop treatment during a manic episode because the
symptoms feel good. But it is important to continue treatment as
prescribed to avoid taking risks or having unpleasant consequences from a manic episode. If you have concerns about treatment or the side effects
of medicines, talk with your doctor. Do not adjust the medicines
on your own.
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.