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4 Strategies to Manage Your Bipolar Disorder

4 Strategies to Manage Your Bipolar DisorderMedication is generally seen as the first line of defense when treating bipolar disorder. However, being medicated is far from the only method patients can use to manage their symptoms. Self-care is vital in dealing with the day-to-day issues of living with bipolar disorder. With proper self-care, patients can not only have a better quality of life, they can also lengthen the time between episodes.

There are numerous methods of self-care people can use to increase mental health. However, researchers from the University of British Columbia, led by Erin E. Michalak, have narrowed down four strategies patients and healthcare workers consider the most effective for successful self-management.

1 Manage medication
Yes, medication is still a vital part of treating bipolar disorder. The vast majority of people with bipolar disorder cannot function well without it. Patients and healthcare workers surveyed said the most important factors in managing medication include:

  • Get an accurate diagnosis from someone familiar with bipolar disorder
  • Meet with healthcare professionals regularly
  • Find medications that work well with as few side effects as possible
  • Never run out of medication
  • Take medications exactly as prescribed including time of day and correct dosage
  • Do not ignore symptoms

2 Learn to calm yourself
People with bipolar disorder are particularly vulnerable to stress. Increased anxiety can also trigger mood episodes, so learning to control stress is important to maintaining balance. Suggestions on calming methods from those surveyed include:

  • Set aside regular quiet time, avoiding overstimulation and social pressure
  • Don’t take on too much at once
  • Set realistic expectations for yourself and others
  • Stay organized
  • Get regular and plentiful sleep
  • Engage in talk therapy

3 Stay hopeful
Bipolar disorder is debilitating and can very easily become a mountain of self-loathing and hopelessness. Up to 15% of patients with bipolar disorder commit suicide. It’s very easy to say, “Keep your chin up!” Doing so can seem an insurmountable task. Participants in the study gave the following tips to keep up hope:

  • Identify your strengths and what gives you joy
  • Don’t beat yourself up about having bad days
  • Recognize that it is possible to have a high quality of life with bipolar disorder
  • Cultivate positive relationships

4 Stay active
Depression can deplete energy and sap you of motivation, making any activity a struggle. However, the patients and healthcare workers surveyed found getting out there, both socially and physically, can help keep symptoms in check. They provided the following advice:

  • Find an exercise activity you actually enjoy
  • Have healthy eating habits
  • Spend time outside
  • Develop good communication skills
  • Find a healthy balance between socializing and solitude


All of these tips are easier said than done, but it is possible to balance your life with your bipolar disorder. Talking with a psychiatrist and/or therapist can provide a personalized plan to have the best possible outcome.


Primary source: Michalak, E. E., Suto, M., Barnes, S. J., Hou, S., Lapsley, S., Scott, M., … & BD, C. (2016). Effective Self-management Strategies for Bipolar Disorder: A Community-Engaged Delphi Consensus Consultation Study. Journal of Affective Disorders.



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4 Strategies to Manage Your Bipolar Disorder

LaRae LaBouff

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APA Reference
LaBouff, L. (2016). 4 Strategies to Manage Your Bipolar Disorder. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 30, 2020, from


Last updated: 29 Jul 2016
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