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Although it's usually a long-term condition, effective treatments for bipolar disorder, combined with self-help techniques, can limit the condition's impact on your everyday life.
Eating well and keeping fit are important for everyone. Exercise can also help reduce the symptoms of bipolar disorder, particularly the depressive symptoms.
It may also give you something to focus on and provide a routine, which is important for many people.
A healthy diet, combined with exercise, may also help limit weight gain, which is a common side effect of medical treatments for bipolar disorder.
Some treatments also increase the risk of developing diabetes, or worsen the illness in people that already have it. Maintaining a healthy weight and exercising are an important way of limiting that risk.
You should have a check-up at least once a year to monitor your risk of developing cardiovascular disease or diabetes.
This will include recording your weight, checking your blood pressure and having any appropriate blood tests.
Self-care is an essential part of daily life. It involves taking responsibility for your own health and wellbeing with support from the people involved in your care.
People with long-term conditions can benefit enormously from being helped with self-care. They can live longer, have less pain, anxiety, depression and fatigue, have a better quality of life, and be more active and independent.
Read more about self-care for long-term conditions.
Self-management programmes aim to help people with bipolar disorder take an active part in their own recovery so they're not controlled by their condition.
Courses - such as those run by Self Management UK for mild to moderate mental health conditions - may be helpful to people who feel distressed and uncertain about their bipolar disorder.
Some people with bipolar disorder find it easy to talk to family and friends about their condition and its effects. Other people find it easier to turn to charities and support groups.
Many organisations run self-help groups that can put you in touch with other people with the condition. This enables people to share helpful ideas and helps them realise they're not alone in feeling the way they do. These organisations also provide online support in forums and blogs.
Some useful charities, support groups and associations include:
Talking therapies are useful for managing bipolar disorder, particularly during periods of stability.
You may be involved with many different services during treatment for bipolar disorder. Some are accessed through referral from your GP, others through your local authority.
These services may include:
Some people with bipolar disorder use alcohol or illegal drugs to try to take away their pain and distress. Both have well-known harmful physical and social effects and are not a substitute for effective treatment and good healthcare.
Some people with bipolar disorder find they can stop misusing alcohol and drugs once they're using effective treatment.
Others may have separate but related problems of alcohol and drug abuse, which may need to be treated separately.
Avoiding alcohol and illegal drugs is an important part of recovery from episodes of manic, hypomanic or depressive symptoms, and can help you gain stability.
It's important to avoid too much stress, including work-related stress. If you're employed, you may be able to work shorter hours or in a more flexible way, particularly if job pressure triggers your symptoms.
Under the Disability Discrimination Act 1995, all employers must make reasonable adjustments to make the employment of people with disabilities possible. This can include people with a diagnosis of bipolar disorder or other mental illnesses.
A range of benefits is available to people with bipolar disorder who can't work as a result of their mental illness. These may include:
People living with or caring for someone with bipolar disorder can have a tough time. During episodes of illness, the personalities of people with bipolar disorder may change, and they may become abusive or even violent.
Sometimes social workers and the police may become involved. Relationships and family life are likely to feel the strain.
If you're the nearest relative (as defined by the Mental Health Act 1983) of a person with bipolar disorder, you have certain rights that can be used to protect the person's interests.
These include requesting that the local social services authority asks an approved mental health professional to consider whether the person with bipolar disorder should be detained in hospital (also known as "sectioning").
You may feel at a loss if you're caring for someone with bipolar disorder. Finding a support group and talking to other people in a similar situation might help.
If you're having relationship or marriage difficulties, you can contact specialist relationship counsellors, who can talk things through with you and your partner.
Having suicidal thoughts is a common depressive symptom of bipolar disorder. Without treatment, these thoughts may get stronger.
Some research has shown the risk of suicide for people with bipolar disorder is 15 to 20 times greater than the general population.
Studies have also shown that as many as 25-50% of people with bipolar disorder attempt suicide at least once.
The risk of suicide seems to be higher earlier in the illness, so early recognition and help may prevent it.
If you're feeling suicidal or you're having severe depressive symptoms, contact your GP, care co-ordinator or the local mental health emergency services as soon as possible.
If you can't or don't want to contact these people, contact the Samaritans on 116 123. You can call them 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Self-harm (sometimes called self-injury) is often a symptom of mental health problems such as bipolar disorder.
For some people, self-harm is a way of gaining control over their lives or temporarily distracting themselves from mental distress. It may not be related to suicide or attempted suicide.
Online communities help you talk to people, share your experiences and learn from others.
The SANE Support Forum allows people to share their feelings and provide mutual support to anyone with mental health issues, as well as their friends and family.
Bipolar UK, a national charity, also runs an online discussion forum for people with bipolar disorder, their families and carers.