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Can You Stop a Manic Episode?

Manic episodes are a core feature of bipolar disorder. A manic episode is characterized by a brief period of heightened mood elevation, increased motivation, and a burst of energy. Manic episodes are often followed by depressive episodes, and the intense emotional changes can be difficult for anyone to manage.

There is no identified cure for mania. However, with the right treatment, you can learn to manage bipolar episodes and limit the impact of manic symptoms. In addition, many people find that taking mood stabilizers eliminates manic episodes altogether.

What Triggers a Manic Episode?

People with bipolar I disorder should be aware of the specific feelings or environmental circumstances that trigger manic episodes. While each episode may look slightly different, you will usually find patterns in the sequence of symptoms.

Some common mania triggers include:

  • high levels of unchecked stress

  • irregular sleep patterns or sleep disturbances

  • substance abuse

  • medication non-adherence or medication changes

  • physical illness

  • positive life events

  • significant changes in daily routine

It's a misconception that all people with bipolar disorder experience dramatic mood swings where they routinely shift from a depressive episode to a manic episode. However, manic episodes can be serious, especially when psychotic symptoms are present. Mania symptoms can disrupt all areas of functioning and affect relationships, finances, work, and one's physical well-being.

How to Manage a Manic Episode

Experiencing manic episodes can be challenging for both you and your loved ones. However, if you can identify early warning signs, track your mood, and seek support, you may be able to mitigate some of the more intense symptoms.

Pay Attention to Early Warning Signs

If you notice any early mania symptoms, you may be able to intervene immediately. If you're working with a mental health professional, now is the time to reach out and let them know what you're experiencing. One of the most important ways to intervene early is to focus on adhering to your normal routine and taking all medication as prescribed.

Avoid Any Mood-Altering Substances

Alcohol, illicit drugs, and mood-altering substances can all affect manic symptoms, and they may prolong your emotional distress. Avoiding these substances altogether can help regulate your mental health and maintain a sense of balance.

Initiate Medication Reminders

Mood stabilizers can help prevent manic episodes. However, it's also easy to become distracted or experience mood swings (that can trigger mania). Regardless of your circumstances, prioritize staying on top of your medication. Even if you feel better, always talk to your healthcare provider before making medication changes. Consider setting daily alarms to remind you to take your dose.

Focus on Getting Sleep

One of the main symptoms of mania is getting very little sleep. This makes sense, as the racing thoughts, the surge of energy, and intense emotions can make it difficult to want or even need rest. But prioritizing sleep can help manage the inevitable comedown when a manic episode ends. Try to stick to a regular sleep schedule, and even if you can't fall asleep, use that time to rest and relax.

Try to Avoid Isolating Yourself

Social isolation may feel tempting when you're struggling, but being alone can worsen any mental illness. If you're dealing with acute mania, try to stay connected with your support system and be honest about what you're experiencing. Loved ones can also play an important role in helping you best take care of yourself. For example, if you struggle with reckless spending, your spouse can hold your credit card.

Know Your Emergency Resources

Bipolar disorder can result in devastating consequences. It may be helpful to have an emergency coping plan in place in case you're experiencing a severe form of mania. This plan should include:

  • the number for the local suicide and crisis lifeline (or calling 988)

  • your therapist and psychiatrist's contact information

  • list of quick and simple coping strategies you can implement

  • a few grounding affirmations that promote an internal sense of calmness/self-love

Aim to Practice Mindfulness

Although it may seem counterintuitive, mindfulness can help reduce the intensity of nearly every mental health condition, including bipolar disorder. The more you can instill a sense of internal quiet, the less intense your manic symptoms may feel. Try to meditate or simply focus on staying calm for a few minutes at a time. Pay attention to your body's sensations. Remind yourself to slow down and breathe.

Treatment for Bipolar Disorder in Orange County, CA

At Resurface Group, we specialize in treating a variety of mental health conditions, including bipolar disorder, cyclothymic disorder, schizoaffective disorder, depression, substance use disorders, and more. The right treatment can prevent future manic episodes and help you better cope with your mood disorder.

At Resurface Connect, we offer virtual IOP mental health services for individuals throughout California. Our treatment is accessible, individualized, and evidence-based- we are also in-network with most major health insurance plans. Contact us today to schedule an initial consultation.

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