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Wednesday, October 4, 2023

World Bipolar Day 2023: Triggers of bipolar disorder mood swings

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On March 30th annually, people join hands and create awareness around bipolar disorder. World Bipolar Day is clearly needed, as in 2019, it was found that at least 40 million people experienced bipolar disorder, as per the World Health Organization. Mood swings are very intense and can be quite difficult for a person with bipolar disorder to control. Their mood can change quickly, and they aren’t usually able to calm down for long. Anything can trigger their mood swings, so it’s best to be aware about them and avoid them.

Health Shots connected with Gurugram-based clinical psychologist Aishwarya Raj to find out about bipolar disorder.

bipolar disorder
Bipolar disorder shouldn’t be taken lightly. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

What is bipolar disorder?

You can be happy and excited one minute and sad the next, but those are just normal mood swings. But when it comes to bipolar disorder, it is a mental health condition you shouldn’t take lightly. Raj says it is characterised by extreme mood swings. So, you can have high-energy episodes of mania or hypomania and then switch to low-energy episodes of depression. Mania is a state of elevated or irritable mood, increased energy, grandiosity, reduced need for sleep and behaviours that are risky. Hypomania is a form of mania, but less severe. As for depression, it is a state of sadness, lack of energy, loss of interest in pleasurable activities and hopelessness.

Common triggers of mood swings in people with bipolar disorder

A lot of things or situations can act as triggers that can lead to mood swings in people with bipolar disorder. Here are some:

1. Sleep disruptions

Lack of sleep or irregular sleep patterns can trigger manic episodes and oversleeping can trigger depressive episodes.

2. Stressful life events

Major life changes like getting fired, a divorce or the death of a loved one, can trigger mood swings, says Raj.

3. Substance abuse

The use of drugs or alcohol is not good for people with bipolar disorder as they can trigger manic or depressive episodes.

4. Medications

Certain medications such as antidepressants or steroids can trigger manic or depressive episodes in people with bipolar disorder.

5. Seasonal changes

Something as simple as changes in light and temperature can trigger mood swings, particularly during the autumn and winter months.

6. Hormonal changes

Hormonal fluctuations such as those that happen during pregnancy or menopause, can trigger mood swings.

7. Social isolation

Social isolation can lead to feelings of loneliness, which can trigger depressive episodes.

8. Trauma

Traumatic events like physical or sexual abuse can trigger mood swings.

9. Financial problems

Financial stress can trigger mood swings, particularly if it leads to major changes in their lifestyle or social status.

10. Interpersonal conflicts

The expert says that conflicts with family, friends or co-workers can trigger mood swings, particularly if they involve criticism or rejection.

Managing mood swing triggers

Managing them involves identifying and addressing the specific triggers that affect each person. The following strategies may help.

1. Establishing a regular sleep routine

Maintaining a consistent sleep schedule can help to regulate mood and prevent manic or depressive episodes.

bipolar disorder
You should have a consistent sleep schedule to regulate mood. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock

2. Reducing stress

Engaging in stress-reducing activities such as yoga, meditation, or deep breathing can help to prevent mood swings.

3. Avoiding drugs and alcohol

Abstaining from drugs and alcohol can help prevent mood swings and reduce the risk of relapse.

4. Communicating with a doctor

Working closely with a healthcare provider can help people with bipolar disorder in managing their symptoms and preventing mood swings.

5. Building a support network

Maintaining positive relationships with friends and family can help prevent mood swings and provide a support network during difficult times, says the expert.

6. Taking medication as prescribed

Medication can help to stabilise mood and prevent mood swings, but it is essential to take it as prescribed by a doctor.

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