Getting Help with Other Problems

You might feel very optimistic when you respond well to medication or when your family and friends are supportive and understanding. But having bipolar disorder can still cause problems, no matter how effective medication is, and things that have no connection to bipolar can — and will — go wrong. Surprisingly, even excessively good news can present problems. For example, parties and celebrations can set in motion mood instability or feelings of grandiosity in some people.

Dealing with Loss

A major loss, such as that of a loved one through death or divorce, or loss of a job, can increase the risk of depression or sometimes even mania. Depending on the nature of the loss, there might also be a tendency to become overly involved in other people's lives. Some might tend toward seeking comfort through inappropriate sex.

There are three main sources you can turn to when dealing with profound loss. The first is professional support. Ask for help. Would more or different counseling, therapy, or medication be appropriate?

Fact

Some doctors estimate that between 50 and 70 percent of the appointments made with primary care physicians do not have a significant physical basis. Instead, the complaints or ailments seem to be psychological in origin — people dealing with discontent, loss, or personal crises in relatively ineffective ways.

If you are seeing a therapist, request an extra session if you feel it would help. If you start engaging in behavior that is associated with a symptom of bipolar disorder — such as radically changing eating or sleeping patterns, spending lots of money, or having random and excessive sex — you need to inform your health care provider(s).

There is also personal support. If you are lucky enough to have a significant support system, it can be a valuable resource. It might consist of family, friends, a support group, or a combination of them. Talk in confidence to people you trust. If others are touched by the loss you are experiencing, listen to them discuss how it has affected them. Remember that the people in your support network have their own feelings, needs, and responsibilities. Also, avoid getting overly gossipy about whatever just happened. If you have obsessive thoughts about what other people did or should be doing, share them with your doctor.

A third resource is self-support. If you have developed some type of personal philosophy or spiritual foundation, you might be able to tap into it even before your mood spirals down. Loss is a part of life. Make an effort to use the inner reserves and strength you built up during your recovery to cope with crises as they come along.

Dealing with Gain

Many people fear change, even positive change. Often, it seems safer to keep things as they are, so people sometimes turn down major opportunities to avoid making a dramatic adjustment. For people who have found a daily routine that works for them, new opportunities can be very unsettling. Moving to a new area can mean having to find new doctors, acquaintances, and friends. It can mean finding a place to live, shop, work, and play. A job promotion or increase in finances can mean new responsibilities that complicate life. Major changes like these can increase the risk of a depressive or manic episode.

If you are succeeding professionally or if someone important has come into your life, the same basic strategies should be employed. Tell your doctor(s) how this new development is making you think and behave. Remember that loss and sadness will come your way again — that neither good news nor bad news lasts forever. Feel deserving of your good fortune, but remind yourself there are other good people who deserve good fortune, too.

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