The more you know about
bipolar disorder, the better you will be able to cope
with this lifelong illness. There are many steps that you can take—or help a
loved one take—to recognize and better manage manic episodes.
Learn the warning signs of a manic episode and
get early treatment to avoid disruption in your life.
At the same
time each day, record your mood and any symptoms.
Take medicines as
instructed by your doctor to help reduce the number of manic
To help prevent a manic episode, avoid triggers such as
caffeine, alcohol or drug use, and stress.
Exercise, eat a
balanced diet, get a good night's sleep, and keep a consistent schedule to
reduce minor mood swings that can lead to more severe episodes of
Have an action plan in place so that if you do have a manic
episode, those who support you can follow the plan and keep you safe.
One of the most
important parts of managing a manic episode is recognizing the early warning
signs. You may have unique warning signs, although many will be common among
all people with bipolar illness. It is important to know your warning signs so
that you can start treatment early, perhaps preventing a more severe manic
episode. Charting your mood is one way you can begin to identify your patterns
A journal, where you can record how you feel each
day, will help you recognize patterns in your mood and identify early warning
signs. At about the same time every day, ask yourself, "How did I feel today?"
Use a scale from –5 (depressed) to +5 (manic), with 0 being normal, and give
yourself a daily score. If you have any new or different symptoms, write them
down. Also note anything stressful or unusual that disrupted your routine. Did
you take your medicine properly? Did you sleep well, eat regular meals,
or exercise? Did you drink alcohol? You might discover certain things that trigger a
change in your mood, which can lead to more severe symptoms, and avoid those
things in the future.
As you chart your mood, ask your friends
and family to let you know if they notice any signs of a mood change. Record
those in your mood journal as well.
Common early warning signs of
a manic episode include:
Needing less sleep.
Feeling unusually happy, irritable, or
Making unrealistic plans or focusing intensely on a
Being easily distracted and having racing
Having unrealistic feelings of
Becoming more talkative.
Test Your Knowledge
Some of the early warning signs of a manic episode
include feeling unusually energetic or irritable or needing less sleep.
people who have bipolar disorder take medicine every day, usually a medicine
called a mood stabilizer. But you can still have a manic or depressive episode
despite being on these medicines. During a manic episode, you may need another
medicine to help manage your symptoms until they pass. Be sure to see
your doctor when you first notice symptoms so that you can start treatment
right away and perhaps avoid a more serious episode.
people with bipolar disorder, the early symptoms of a manic episode feel good.
It is not uncommon to feel up and energized, confident, and creative. These
feelings may seduce you into thinking that you don't need your medicine. This
is when it is important to have a support system in place. You may need family
or friends to help you stay with your treatment plan.
early treatment allows you to manage your illness in a proactive way. And you benefit by
having fewer disruptions in your life. By avoiding impulsive and often
destructive or dangerous manic behaviors, you will have fewer long-term
repercussions. Behaviors like spending too much money, having unprotected sex,
or driving recklessly can have serious consequences for both you and your loved
ones. Learning the early signs of a manic episode may help you avoid these
Test Your Knowledge
Identifying the early warning signs of a manic episode
will help you get quick treatment and avoid unpleasant or dangerous
The best way to
manage bipolar disorder is to prevent manic episodes. Although that is not
always possible, you can identify and try to avoid the triggers that may
lead to a mood swing. One of the most important aspects of managing your
illness is to stay on a routine, particularly keeping a stable sleep pattern.
Maintain a stable sleep pattern. Go to bed
about the same time each night, and wake up around the same time each morning.
Too much or too little sleep or changes in your normal sleep patterns can alter
the chemicals in your body, which can trigger mood changes or make your
Stay on a daily routine.
Plan your day around a fairly predictable routine. For example, eat meals at
regular times, and make exercise or other physical activity a part of your daily
schedule. Also, perhaps, practice meditation or another relaxation technique each
night before bed.
Set realistic goals.
Having unrealistic goals can set you up for disappointment and frustration,
which can trigger a manic episode. Do the best you can to manage your illness. But expect and be prepared for occasional setbacks.
Do not use alcohol or illegal drugs. It may be tempting to use
alcohol or drugs to help you get through a manic episode. But this can make
symptoms worse. Even one drink can interfere with sleep, mood, or medicines
used to treat bipolar disorder.
Get help from family and friends. You may need help from your family or friends during
a manic episode, especially if you have trouble telling the difference between
what is real and what is not real (psychosis). Having a plan in place before
any mood changes occur will assist your support network in helping you to make
Reduce stress at home and at work. Try to keep regular hours at work or at school. Doing a good job
is important, but avoiding a depressive or manic mood episode is more
important. If stress at work, school, or home is a problem, counseling may help
improve the situation and decrease stress.
Learn to recognize your early warning signs. One of the most important ways to
avoid a manic episode is to identify early signs and seek treatment.
Monitor your mood every day. After you know
your early warning signs, check your mood daily to see whether you may be
heading for a mood swing. Write down your symptoms in a journal. Or record them
on a chart or a calendar. When you see a pattern or warning signs of a mood
swing, seek treatment.
It can be tempting to stop treatment during a manic episode because the
symptoms feel good. But it is important to continue treatment as
prescribed to avoid taking risks or having unpleasant consequences from a manic episode. If you have concerns about treatment or the side effects
of medicines, talk with your doctor. Do not adjust the medicines
on your own.
Test Your Knowledge
A regular sleep schedule is important to prevent mood
Learning how to manage your
bipolar disorder can help you live a healthy and productive life.
Talk with your doctor
If you have questions about this information, take it along with your
mood journal or symptom chart when you visit the doctor. You may want to use a
highlighter to mark areas or make notes in the margins of the pages where you
Be sure to let your doctor know when you notice
changes in your behavior. Talk with your doctor about what might be triggers
for you and discuss ways to avoid them.
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.