COPING WITH BIPOLAR DISORDER DURING A PANDEMIC AND BEYOND.

Bipolar disorder, formerly called manic-depressive illness, is a severe mental health condition that causes extremely high and low changes In the mood and behavior of an individual.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health (N.I.M.H), roughly 2.8% of Adult Americans were diagnosed with bipolar disorder last year, and about 4.4% will experience it at some point in their lives.

Persons suffering from bipolar disorder typically experience periods in which they have an overly happy or outgoing mood and other periods in which they feel very sad, and helpless. 

A person with Bipolar disorder may find the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and the resulting lockdown measure particularly difficult to handle due to the following reasons;

• Containment measures to halt the virus spread has caused a dramatic alteration to the regularity & structure which they heavily rely on. 

• Quarantine and lockdown means that they may not be able to receive the consistent psychological treatment they need.

• The massive loss of life, grief, and other distressing happenings can be rather overwhelming & push them over the edge.

Without a doubt, there is an urgent need to help people suffering from bipolar disorder cope during this difficult time, and that is the aim of this article.

Here are some expert-recommended tips that could help people with Bipolar disorder cope during this pandemic and afterward;

1. Remain in contact with a licensed mental health provider:

Woman Using Laptop Doing A Video Call

Strict lockdown measures against the COVID-19 mean that your regular appointments with a licensed mental health professional will be difficult and almost impossible. Thankfully, most of these professionals now provide telehealth services that allow them to deliver online therapy or teletherapy to people with bipolar disorder. Through telehealth, your doctor can communicate with you and deliver treatment via a secure voice call or video conference. Using telehealth services, you can remain in regular contact with your mental health provider during the entire period of the coronavirus pandemic. These online remote sessions for your bipolar disorder is convenient, sustainable, and also minimizes the risk and exposure of both you and the doctor to the coronavirus (COVID-19).

2. Try to ensure that you have an adequate and constant supply of medication:

Prescriptions Sign On A Drug Store Front

Running out of your bipolar meds, can worsen your condition and set your progress back by weeks as consistent treatment with the right prescription medication is crucial for treating bipolar disorder. Quarantine and isolation can impede your ability to get your bipolar medication in a timely manner. Therefore, a smart idea will be to inquire from your healthcare provider if your prescription medications can be written for a longer supply. This way you can stock up on your prescription drugs in case a second wave of the coronavirus (COVID-19) or any other emergency situation prompts another quarantine or lockdown that keeps you home for a longer period of time. Additionally, you want to minimize the extent to which you go to the pharmacy, by exploring their delivery options for your prescription medications.

3. Maintain adequate social support:

Photo of Family Having Fun

Reaching out to family and friends to receive meaningful support if you are in a negative mood is of utmost importance. Although social interactions have taken a unique turn due to the need for social distancing, this does not mean that you are cut you off from trusted individuals who make up your support system. Fortunately, the use of social media is an incredible alternative way to still engage in active and healthy online social interactions. 

If you prefer to be physically present with anybody you are engaging with, you must learn to adjust, to communicating and connecting with others online as these are unprecedented times. By doing so, you can still receive and maintain adequate social support from friends and family at a safe distance.

4. Establish and follow good sleep habits

Unrecognizable person sleeping under blanket

Establishing a stable healthy sleep cycle in conjunction with proper prescription medications is critical for managing your bipolar disorder symptoms. 

Preferably, you should establish a good sleeping structure that enables you to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. It is also important that you engage in relaxing and calming activities such as reading or listening to soothing music before you sleep. 

Woman Meditating in the Outdoors

If practicing good sleeping hygiene is still not enough for you to get adequate rest, you can speak with a licensed physician on other effective solutions– possibly medications that can help you sleep better.

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