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How Stress Impacts Bipolar Disorder

Most of us are aware that stress can be harmful to our mental wellbeing. While some stress is an essential incentive pushing us to do better and succeed, prolonged periods of stress can aggravate symptoms of depression, anxiety, and other preexisting mental health conditions. Individuals with bipolar disorder who are stressed in particular are at a high risk of relapsing into either a manic or depressive episode when exposed to high levels of stress.

If you or a loved one lives with bipolar disorder, read our article below to learn more about how bipolar disorder and stress tolerance are connected. Contact our team at Miami Hypnosis and Therapy today to find out what we can do to help you manage those highs and lows.

The Definition of Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder is a chronic mental health condition characterized by extreme highs and lows in mood and ways of thinking. At its peak, individuals with bipolar disorder will experience a manic episode, which can result in impulsive and sometimes destructive behavior and restlessness. At its low, individuals with bipolar disorder endure depressive episodes that can cause feelings of hopelessness, lethargy, and even suicidal contemplation.

Bipolar disorder is often diagnosed in your young adult years. The combination of bipolar disorder and the stressful conditions surrounding adolescence can often leave the person undiagnosed and untreated, which only worsens the condition.

Some symptoms of this disorder can appear similar to stress and include:

Mania

  • High energy
  • Rapid speech
  • Reckless behaviors
  • Insomnia
  • Irritability
  • Lack of focus
  • Unrealistic grandiose thoughts

Depression

  • Low energy
  • Lethargy
  • Weight gain
  • Sleeping too much or too little
  • Irritability
  • Lack of focus
  • Suicidal thoughts

Rapid mood swings can also occur, as well as episodes that blend symptoms of both mania and depression. However, with the proper treatment and the support of loved ones, people with bipolar disorder can live long and fulfilling lives.

Does Bipolar Disorder Get Worse with Stress?

People with bipolar disorder handle stress differently. Similar to other mental health conditions that one’s ability to function, bipolar disorder often results in lower stress tolerance.

Most of us have experienced situations where stress and bad news just seems to keep piling up. To top it off, individuals in our community with mental illness already have to adapt to environments that rarely cater to their needs. What may seem like an easy task for the average person comes with a new set of challenges for people with bipolar disorder. Living with a mental illness is already difficult, but when you add that additional stress that may result from illness, relationships, or financial troubles, this can leave anyone depressed or erratic. Since individuals with bipolar disorder already live with these tendencies, they are more prone to depressive and manic episodes because of it.

Bipolar disorder and stress can also affect how you interpret things around you. What may seem like no big deal to one person can be detrimental to people with bipolar disorder. This can worsen the symptoms of a depressive episode and contribute to feelings of worthlessness. Even worse, due to the stigma that people with mental illnesses face, getting help to cope with stress may be triggering on its own. Being too anxious to seek help rarely results in the person getting the assistance they need.

How Stress Can Trigger a Bipolar Episode

Bipolar disorder and stress share a very symbiotic relationship. While everyone reacts differently, most of us who are stressed have experienced things like sleep loss, self-neglect, accidental isolation, and even illness.

A person pouring coffee into a precariously perched mug.

Lack of sleep lowers your natural mental and physical defenses and leaves you more susceptible to disease and depression. When someone with bipolar disorder and a low stress tolerance doesn’t get the rest they need, this can result in a relapse. Self-care is also essential and includes proper hygiene, eating well, exercising, and being kind to yourself. If you’re stressed, you may think that you don’t have time for these things and may leave yourself running ragged and feeling poorly. People with bipolar disorder and other mental conditions may also feel like they don’t deserve good things like an hour to unwind or a relaxing bath because the stress is somehow linked to their own inability to act.

Times of turmoil can also cause people who are bipolar and stressed to self-isolate. Dealing with life’s stressors is difficult, and doing so while thinking you’re alone can be even more traumatizing.

Reaching out for support through friends and medical professionals is vital because of the fact bipolar disorder gets worse with stress. Your support network can help keep you grounded and prevent you from spiraling into a relapse. Stress also takes a physical toll on the body that can leave you prone to illness. Medical bills, time taken off of work, and a disruption in your schedule might be all that’s needed for the stress to cause a bipolar relapse.

Managing Stress and Relapses with Miami Hypnosis and Therapy

Life comes with its many highs and lows, but for people living with bipolar disorder, these ups and downs are even more disruptive. Luckily, Miami Hypnosis and Therapy is here to help.

Through the guidance of our lead mental health professional, Anna Marchenko, LMHC, M.A., Ed.M., we can help you navigate your triggers and develop new coping strategies when it comes to bipolar disorder and stress. We employ a blended approach consisting of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), hypnotherapy, and neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) that can benefit people with bipolar disorder and low stress tolerance.

Let us help you find balance in your life. Contact Miami Hypnosis and Therapy today to schedule your first consultation.

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