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How to Manage Bipolar Disorder & Seasonal Changes

So, you think you’ve finally got a firm grasp on your symptoms of bipolar disorder. You’ve likely started seeing a therapist and are undergoing treatment to deal with your symptoms. You might even have got the hang of ways to deal with extreme mood swings and have started living a regular life.

Seasonal Shifts & Bipolar Disorder

But then there’s a nip in the air, and you start to feel your energy levels dip below normal. You find it difficult to feel motivated enough to get out of bed and dress up for work. The grey and gloomy days of winter further aggravate your feelings of depression and despair.

Noticing Energy Shifts?

On the other hand, as the mercury levels begin to rise during spring, you start feeling an intense sense of euphoria. As your energy levels shoot up, you start taking more risks than usual. You even become irritable or agitated without any reason at times. 

If this situation seems too familiar, the good news is that you’re not alone. Many people with bipolar disorder experience a worsening of symptoms with seasonal shifts. Typically, this is characterized by feeling more depressed during the fall and winter months and the onset of mania or hypomania during spring and summer.

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Effects of Changing Seasons

While it’s less common, some people with bipolar disorder can experience a manic episode during winter, followed by depression in summer. Irrespective of how your symptoms vary, if you’ve got bipolar disorder, chances are it’s going to aggravate with seasonal changes.

While medical researchers are yet to find concrete reasons for this phenomenon, it can be attributed to the fact that seasonal patterns affect your body’s circadian rhythms. Also, changes in sunlight and ambient temperature influence melatonin and serotonin production, thereby affecting your mood, energy levels, and sleep cycle.

But this doesn’t mean you have to wait for your mood and energy levels to stabilize once the weather gets better. There are ways to control your symptoms and continue living your regular life despite seasonal shifts. You just have to follow the right treatment plan and coping strategies.

In this blog, we’ll discuss a few simple ways to help you deal with the seasonal pattern of bipolar disorder. Let’s take a look.

Managing Bipolar Disorder & Seasonal Changes

1. Stay Ahead of the Weather

If you’ve already detected a seasonal trend in your symptoms, you’ve already won a big part of the battle against bipolar disorder. The next thing you need to do is keep an eye on the weather forecast and plan your daily activities and coping mechanisms around it.

For instance, if you know your symptoms worsen on dull and snowy days, you could try living with a friend or your parents to avoid going on a downward spiral of depression. Likewise, if you’d like to go for a vacation, you should check the weather forecast in any place before choosing a destination.

The key is to stay one step ahead of the weather so that you can almost predict when your symptoms are going to change or worsen. This, in turn, makes it easier for you to identify and manage an oncoming depressive or manic episode.

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2. Get Proper Treatment

You can only do so much to self-manage bipolar disorder. But if you want to recover from it, you’ll need to seek treatment from a certified professional. Depending on your symptoms, your psychiatrist might suggest different medication types, including antidepressants and mood stabilizers.

It’s also a good idea to consider going for therapy. A therapist will help you develop the right skills and mindset to anticipate and deal with your symptoms

3. Build A Daily Routine

A well-defined routine adds a semblance of structure and normalcy to your life. Start by going to bed and waking up at the same time every time. Also, divide your waking hours among different activities, including work, exercise, household chores, and errands. Set aside a few hours for leisure and relaxation as well.

Moreover, it’s a good idea to set goals and create lists of things you’ve got to accomplish every day. It’ll help you stay motivated and focused even when you feel depressed on an overcast day.

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4. Stay Active

Any form of rigorous physical activity, such as running, hiking, dancing, or working out, facilitates the release of endorphins, which, in turn, uplifts your mood. That’s why it is essential to add some form of physical exercise to your daily life.

It’s okay if you don’t want to go to the gym every day. You need to find a form of exercise you’ll enjoy. It could be something more holistic, such as yoga, too. When you don’t feel like exercising, try staying active by running errands and organizing your home.

What coping techniques do you use to deal with bipolar disorder during seasonal changes? Share your suggestions in the comments section below.

This post was written as a collaborative post. Collaborative articles are written by another party who may  or may not wish to be anonymous. Further, all posts are edited and formatted by Elizabeth Ghekiere. Want to guest post for ElizabethJournals? Learn more here.

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