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Clinically Reviewed by: Charee Marquez, LMFT

5 Ways to Manage Bipolar Highs and Lows

What are Bipolar Highs and Lows?

Bipolar disorder is a mental health condition characterized by extreme mood swings or episodes of mania and depression. These mood swings are often referred to as bipolar highs and lows. There are two main types of bipolar disorder: bipolar I and bipolar II. Here’s an overview of the highs (mania or hypomania) and lows (depression) associated with bipolar disorder:

  1. Bipolar Highs (Mania or Hypomania):

    • Bipolar I Mania:

      • Mania is a distinct period of abnormally and persistently elevated, expansive, or irritable mood lasting at least one week (or less if hospitalization is necessary).
      • During a manic episode, individuals may experience an increase in energy, impulsivity, and a decreased need for sleep.
      • Racing thoughts, increased goal-directed activity, and engaging in risky behaviors (such as excessive spending, reckless driving, or increased sexual activity) are common features of mania.
    • Bipolar II Hypomania:

      • Hypomania is a less severe form of mania that lasts at least four consecutive days.
      • While hypomania shares some characteristics with mania, it is not severe enough to cause significant impairment in social or occupational functioning.
      • Individuals with bipolar II disorder may experience increased energy, elevated mood, and impulsivity during hypomanic episodes.
  2. Bipolar Lows (Depression):

    • Bipolar I and Bipolar II Depression:
      • Depression in bipolar disorder is characterized by persistent feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and a lack of interest or pleasure in activities.
      • Other symptoms of depression include changes in appetite or weight, sleep disturbances, fatigue, difficulty concentrating, feelings of guilt or worthlessness, and thoughts of death or suicide.
      • Depressive episodes in bipolar disorder are similar to major depressive disorder but occur in the context of the disorder’s overall pattern of mood swings.

Bipolar disorder involves a cycling between these highs and lows. The periods of mania or hypomania are interspersed with episodes of depression, and individuals may also experience periods of relative stability.

If you are a person suffering from bipolar disorder (or what used to be called manic depression) you already know that the extreme mood swings and the emotional highs and lows can completely derail your day and your life, if not handled with self-care and compassion.

If you haven’t been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, but recognize some of the following symptoms in yourself, these tips can help, but it is important to seek help from a licensed professional for diagnosis and next steps.

Some common effects of bipolar mood swings include sleep deprivation or insomnia, anger and irritability, inability to think clearly, leading to detrimental impacts to work, relationships and health.

Here are 5 changes you can make starting today:

1. Medication Adherence

Consistently take prescribed medications as directed by your healthcare provider. Mood stabilizers, antipsychotics, and other medications are often used to manage symptoms of bipolar disorder. Regularly communicate with your healthcare team about the effectiveness and any side effects.

2. Journal your thoughts and emotions

Each person experiences their bipolar symptoms differently. Keeping a daily journal of your moods, feelings, emotions and thoughts is a great way to track your symptoms so that you can recognize patterns of behavior and the triggers that may be causing them. Doing this can help you prevent or manage your symptoms before or during an episode.

3. Create a toolkit of coping skills

Engage in psychotherapy, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) or dialectical behavior therapy (DBT). Therapy can help individuals recognize and manage triggers, develop coping strategies, and improve overall emotional regulation.

4. Build an emergency plan

Despite all your coping skills, there are times that an episode may get out of control, and in times of crisis, it is important to have an emergency plan to fall back on. Your emergency plan may include people to contact, medication information, a list of hotline numbers, or any other alternatives that you think can help you in such a situation.

5. Create a support system

Isolation and lack of social connection can often lead to depressive or manic episodes, so it is important to create a support system of family, friends, therapists and counselors who have your best interests in mind, and have the ability to help you prevent or work through the emotions and mood swings you may encounter on a daily basis. 

Seeking Treatment? We Can Help!

At California Prime Recovery, as an in-network provider we work with most insurance plans, such as:

If you or a loved one are struggling with mental health challenges or substance abuse, reach out to California Prime Recovery today. Our team of compassionate professionals is here to support your journey towards lasting well-being. Give us a call at 866-208-2390

Anxiety and Addiction Go Together. 10 Tips to Help

Clinically Reviewed by: Charee Marquez, LMFT

Anxiety and addiction are co-occurring conditions that many people suffer from. Anxiety, in and of itself, may not be a bad thing. It is the body’s response to real or imagined situations that could cause physical or emotional threats. That means it is normal for everyone to feel anxiety almost regularly, which can help navigate and respond to daily occurring events that may be stressful. 

However, anxiety can pose an issue if it interferes with functioning properly at work, in relationships and in your everyday life. Whereas normal anxiety may create nervousness and potential loss of sleep, anxiety disorders can be more severe, leading to panic, excessive sweating, tremors, and severe sleep problems. Chronic anxiety may even lead to persistent health conditions such as gastrointestinal problems, sleep disorders, panic disorders, and a host of other issues. 

Anxiety or Addiction - which comes first?

Many people self medicate when they suffer from anxiety, and sometimes they resort to addictive substances in order to calm themselves down. This could eventually lead to dependence on substances, and even substance use disorders. 

On the flipside, anxiety may occur as a result of an individual becoming dependent on a substance, and experience anxiety as a withdrawal symptom when they try to quit. Substances such as cocaine, methamphetamine, and other inhalants and hallucinogens may induce anxiety. Prescription medications such as corticosteroids, thyroid medications, and many antidepressants and mood stabilizers are known to induce anxiety.

Each individual responds differently to different substances, but being aware of the risk factors is helpful in recognizing and avoiding them.

Managing Anxiety Without Substances

Managing anxiety without substances involves adopting healthy lifestyle practices, coping strategies, and mindset shifts. Here are ten strong tips to help you manage anxiety without relying on substances:

  1. Regular Exercise:

    • Engage in regular physical activity, such as walking, jogging, or yoga. Exercise releases endorphins, which are natural mood lifters and stress relievers.
  2. Mindfulness and Meditation:

    • Practice mindfulness and meditation to bring awareness to the present moment. Mindful breathing and meditation techniques can help calm the mind and reduce anxiety.
  3. Healthy Sleep Habits:

    • Prioritize a consistent sleep schedule and create a relaxing bedtime routine. Quality sleep is crucial for mental health and can significantly impact anxiety levels.
  4. Balanced Nutrition:

    • Maintain a balanced and nutritious diet. Avoid excessive caffeine, sugar, and processed foods, as they can contribute to increased anxiety. Focus on whole foods that support overall well-being.
  5. Stress Management Techniques:

    • Learn and practice stress management techniques, such as deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, or guided imagery. These techniques can help relax the body and mind.
  6. Establishing Boundaries:

    • Set healthy boundaries in both personal and professional relationships. Learn to say no when necessary and prioritize self-care to prevent overwhelming stress.
  7. Positive Affirmations:

    • Incorporate positive affirmations into your daily routine. Replace negative thoughts with affirmations that promote self-confidence and a positive mindset.
  8. Journaling:

    • Keep a journal to express your thoughts and feelings. Writing can be a therapeutic outlet and a way to gain insight into patterns that may contribute to anxiety.
  9. Time Management:

    • Develop effective time management skills to reduce feelings of overwhelm. Break tasks into smaller, manageable steps and prioritize them based on importance.
  10. Seeking Support:

    • Reach out to friends, family, or a mental health professional for support. Talking about your feelings and concerns can provide validation and helpful perspectives.

Remember that managing anxiety is a personalized journey, and it’s essential to explore what works best for you. Combining several of these strategies and consistently practicing them over time can contribute to better anxiety management without relying on substances. If anxiety persists or becomes overwhelming, consider seeking professional guidance for tailored support and coping strategies.

Treating Anxiety and Addiction

If you are suffering from severe anxiety and also addiction, seek a therapist who can provide dual diagnosis for co-occurring disorders. There are several kinds of anxiety disorders, and many types of substances that induce anxiety, so treating them together can help address the root causes for both. An experienced therapist can come up with an individualized treatment plan so that triggers can be identified, patterns can be monitored, goals can be tracked, with the end result that an individual can learn healthy coping mechanisms to deal with both anxiety and addiction.

We specialize in dual diagnosis, addiction treatment and mental health treatment, so that we can help our clients recover for the long term, and be able to live a healthy life. We offer the latest evidence based treatments such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT), Motivational Enhancement and Interviewing and several others, as necessary. We also offer alternative treatment approaches such as adventure therapy and holistic practices. This range of treatment techniques allows people to take part in their own recovery and gives them a chance to process their physical and emotional changes in ways that can help them live a self-directed, confident life.

Seeking Treatment? We Can Help!

At California Prime Recovery, as an in-network provider we work with most insurance plans, such as:

If you or a loved one are struggling with mental health challenges or substance abuse, reach out to California Prime Recovery today. Our team of compassionate professionals is here to support your journey towards lasting well-being. Give us a call at 866-208-2390

Do I need Therapy? 5 Questions to Ask Yourself

You may be feeling ok, or not. But you’re uncertain if you’re feeling well enough, or if you need help. Friends may have mentioned that therapy would help. But you think you’re fine. If you do think therapy could help, you don’t know what to ask help for. If this is the sort of talk that goes on in your head, read on.

Therapy can be enormously beneficial for those who are suffering from anxiety, depression, trauma, and other mental health issues. But what if you don’t know if you have any of those issues? Here are 5 questions you can ask yourself to check whether you could use the help of a therapist.

1. Am I sleeping enough? Or am I sleeping too much?

Irregular sleeping patterns are usually the first signs of a mental health issue. Anxiety and ADHD tend to lead to sleeplessness, insomnia or other irregular sleep patterns. Depression and related disorders could lead to too much sleep and drowsiness during the day. Approaching a therapist or a sleep doctor can help you figure out your next steps.

2. Am I feeling stressed and overwhelmed?

Stress and overwhelm, whether created by challenges at your workplace, or in your relationships may be addressed by short term therapy. However, if stress and overwhelm are leading to emotional and mental upheaval that is impairing your basic decision making and daily functioning, then it may be a symptom of a more serious mental health issue. A therapist can diagnose and come up with a treatment plan to help you.

3. Am I eating too much? Am I losing weight?

Your eating habits can help you gauge when there may be something going on with your health. Many people use food (emotional eating) to cope with other issues such as anxiety, depression, etc. Others may deny themselves food (bulimia, anorexia) due to social anxieties, or self confidence issues. A change in eating habits is usually a sign of mental health issues, and is best addressed by a therapist.

4. Am I using/abusing substances to cope?

Many people who don’t think they have a problem, or don’t want to seek a therapist, try to solve their inner issues on their own by using escape mechanisms such as substance abuse, or addictive behaviors. What may start as a simple habit may soon lead to addiction. Most addiction patients also have an underlying mental health issue. Substance use, rather than helping to cope, in fact creates an additional chronic issue to deal with. The sooner you recognize this pattern, the better it is to seek therapy.

5. Am I being consumed by my thoughts and emotions?

Mental health issues are created by disturbing negative thoughts, intense emotions, and the inability to regulate your behaviors caused by those thoughts and emotions. Sometimes they can be short term, for example, if you are grieving the loss of a relationship or a loved one. Long term issues such as mood disorders, behavioral disorders, conduct disorders, anxiety disorders, and a host of other mental health issues are also underpinned by intrusive thoughts and disruptive emotions. A therapist can help you get to the root of your issues and help overcome them.

If you recognize yourself in one or more of the above, take the first step of reaching out for help. Taking that first step can be a huge relief to unburden yourself of your issues and be able to receive help that you didn’t know you needed. Call us to see how we can help.

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