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5 Ways to Manage Bipolar Highs and Lows

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. Learn more about your condition

Educating yourself about how bipolar disorder can manifest in your symptoms, and how your behavior can change based on the manic and depressive episodes can help you recognize and identify such behaviors in yourself. Educating yourself is the first step you can take towards helping yourself.

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

Your therapist may be able to provide you some guidance on coping skills that can work specifically for your condition, and in addition, you can experiment and add to the toolkit of activities, so that you can implement them when you need them. Creating this toolkit for yourself ensures that you have a planned way to manage your symptoms as they occur.

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. 

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.

Get help Now! Text us at 949-749-3026 or Call us at 866-415-6313

Anxiety and Addiction Go Together. 10 Tips to Help

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 Drugs

Drugs do not have to be the first thing to reach for in times of anxiety. There are many helpful holistic ways to overcome anxiety and feel calm. This is a short list of tips and techniques to try.

  1. Deep diaphragmatic breathing of 5 – 10 breaths
  2. Replace caffeinated drinks with water
  3. Add calming foods to your diet, such as whole grains, blueberries and almonds
  4. Avoid alcohol and other addictive substances
  5. Do something physical, like going for a run, or jumping jacks
  6. Write down all your anxious thoughts and put them away
  7. Monitor and track your triggers and stressors in a journal
  8. Call a friend, do something (non-substance-related) together
  9. Get plenty of sleep
  10. Seek a therapist if anxiety is excessive

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.

Get help Now! Text us at 949-749-3026 or Call us at 866-415-6313

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.

Get help Now! Text us at 949-749-3026 or Call us at 866-415-6313

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