Remember, the brave and strong reach out for help. If you re feeling depressed, you might also be experiencing persistent thoughts of self doubt, regrets, loss, grief, and/or loneliness. Bipolar disorder can be tricky; one day you are feeling just fine, and then it hits you. You might be telling yourself that no one cares, or things just are not worth your effort. You might find it difficult to get out of bed, or to go to work or school. You might find yourself crying allot, or feeling irritable and wanting to be alone, even though you feel lonely. You might be overeating or hardly eating at all, or you might be sleeping many, many hours, or having allot of difficulty sleeping and waking up at odd hours of the night. Depression hurts. Depression can be debilitating. Your mental health is important; not just to you, but for your friends and family as well. If you have cycles of bipolar depression, the sooner you get yourself back into live and living, the sooner will begin to feel better. Get yourself up, and try a few of these approaches:
- SAFE CIRCLE: Create a safe circle of family and friends. Have at least 3 people that you can call and then CALL. Make sure that you have an agreement with a few people who understand your bipolar and vulnerability to depression. This agreement is about you agreeing to call when you are feeling depressed, and they will listen and talk with you and meet you face to face if you need to.
- Social support: Continue to attend your support groups and retain consistent contact with friends and family. Get out and visit them. Consider volunteering if you are not working. Develop a social life that provides you with routine interactions with others. It is important to decrease isolation and to maintain your experience of being connected.
- Exercise. Regular exercise can help to regulate mood and has the potential of preventing depressive episodes. When depressed, if you can get yourself to go for a walk, your mood can change dramatically just from that small adjustment. Exercise boosts serotonin, endorphins, and other chemicals in your brain that help you to feel well and good. All it takes is 30 minutes daily to feel a change. Increase to 60 on some days, and you are well on your way to happiness maintenance.
- Sleep: Try to get enough sleep. If you find yourself tossing and turning, with racing thoughts, try doing gentle stretches to calm the body down before bed, and then bring a book with you to bed. Turn off the television and your computer. Reading will make the eyes tired, and lying in bed will rest the body even if you cannot fall asleep. If you go more than a few days without regular healthy sleep, call your doctor and discuss how you might develop a sleep hygiene routine that may or may not include medication.
- Nutrition: You have heard enough of this, but it is true. When a person is depressed, they may crave the sugary foods that instantly boost mood, but then ultimately cause a “crash” in blood sugar after the temporary rise. The crash can cause even more prolonged depression. Reach for complex carbohydrates like fruit and vegetables. Eat well balanced meals throughout the day.
- Stress management: Take the time to conduct an analysis of your life situation and identify areas in your life that might be causing overwhelm. Make necessary changes to reduce the amount of stress in our life to a manageable level. You might have to let go of something. With that said, take a double check to evaluate if you are using your stress management tools as well, such as meditation, exercising, etc. Sometimes talking about your overwhelmed can make it seem more manageable.
- Medication: If you are proactively taking care of yourself, and you still cannot get yourself out of feeling depressed, talk to your psychiatrist about your medication. You might need to change your medications, or you might want to take additional medication for depression. Discuss whether you want to try some additional interventions first before adding medication, or if using medication is the best route for you.
- Psychotherapy: Attending Regular sessions with your psychotherapist is healthy way to provide yourself with a safety net, a way to easily monitor your mood to help prevent depression, and to give you real tools that you can be empowered by and use yourself to prevent or recover from a depressive episode.
- Recognize when a severe depression is emerging and get help:
If you are currently feeling so depressed that you are thinking of suicide please call:1-8—273-8255 or 1-800-273-TALK. This is the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline here is what they post on their website:
“No matter what problems you are dealing with, we want to help you find a reason to keep living. By calling 1800-273-TALK (8255) you’ll be connected to a skilled, trained counselor at a crisis center in your area, anytime 24/7.”
Please visit their site: http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/