Dealing with Bipolar Disorder: Self Monitoring for Relapse Prevention

16th October 2023

Dealing with Bipolar Disorder: Self Monitoring for Relapse Prevention

In addition to psyhcoeducation, self-monitoring strategies are an important element of successful self help. Did you suffer from burn-out or depression that eventually led to symptoms of bipolar disorder. Then, get to the root of the problem; ask yourself, what led to burnout? What contributed to depression?

If you sense those same feelings coming on anew, emotions or loss of energy, then stop, pause and reevaluate. Why are you experiencing burnout or depression again? Can you make adjustments to lighten your load, even if that might be a temporary adjustment? What support can you get to help you through this potential crisis?

Through self-monitoring and by continually making adjustments, you can achieve your goal of recovery.

If you feel signs of mania becoming manifest, whether you yourself recognize it, or someone else brings it to your attention, again, stop, pause, contemplate, evaluate. Why are symptoms of mania reappearing? What is the cause? What can you do to make immediate adjustments to fend off a potential crisis? This method has been effective for many in staving off potential relapses, and towards recovery from and even remission of bipolar disorder and its symptoms.

Dealing with Bipolar Disorder: Mindfulness and Meta-Cognition Can Contribute to Greater Self-Insight

Often, we may be so enmeshed in his thoughts and feelings that we have a difficult time perceiving our own behavior. It may be compared to a fish that does not know what water is. With little to compare to the experience of mania alternating with depression, we can find it difficult to see ourselves as others do. It can be difficult to modify, then, our behavior and activity towards a more balanced level. Mindfulness, then, regarding shifts in moods, thoughts and behavior must be cultivated.

Thinking about thinking, or meta-cognition, is an important skill to develop with anyone with symptoms related to bipolar disorder. Support of friends and family, then, can be of much help. That takes humility on our part, as we make adjustments in response to feedback from others. Others who are close to us, might be more objective than we ourselves our, and accepting feedback can be an essential part of long-term recovery.

How to and How not to Provide Feedback to those living with Bipolar Disorder, for Relapse Prevention

Those offering feedback, need to be careful not to be hyper-critical, or look for signs that may or may not be there. If offering feedback on a loved one’s mental state, avoid using the label "bipolar" as a weapon or in name-calling. This can be hurtful and create a defensive, rather than constructive response.

Additionally, some find more success in providing feedback on the specific symptom or behavior, rather than addressing everything in terms of the label, or “your illness,” or “the illness”. That puts things out of the control of the individual, and can be demeaning. Recognize the individual as an individual with their strong and weak points, and try to provide support, constructive help and insight.

Living with Bipolar Disorder: Self-Monitoring Strategies Contribute to Lower Relapse Rate

As stated by Greg Murray, of the Faculty of Life and Social Sciences, Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne, Australia, in a paper entitled, "Self-Management Strategies Used by 'High Functioning' Individuals with Bipolar Disorder: From Research to Clinical Practice, self-management or self-monitoring strategies reflect participants' strong motivation to stay well and assume responsibility for their wellness…(and) the importance of learning to pay close attention to their moods and involvement in activities, in order to judge when to make changes. Understanding personal behaviors patterns and warning signs requires self-awareness and … (this) is a common strategy among individuals who have lived with Bipolar Disorder longer than those more recently diagnosed. Self-monitoring and being vigilant (prompts individuals)…from getting overwhelmed."

Clearly, if persons who have dealt with bipolar disorder for a longer period of time do better self-monitoring than those newly diagnosed, self-monitoring is a cultivated skill that requires guidance, experience and possibly education to obtain.

Dealing with Bipolar Disorder: Recognize Triggers and Make Continual Adjustments for Recovery

Creating a schedule with some relaxation time, changing one’s self-expectations to manageable ones, and building slowly on one’s positive skills and activities, such as eating nutritional food and exercising, is very helpful. Learning to sense changes in one’s emotions and behavior is helpful, as well, especially when in response to internal or external stimuli or triggers. Recognizing whether depression or suicidal tendencies are manifesting themselves is extremely important.

As further noted by Murray and associates, "regular self-monitoring and adjustment requires considerable effort but has its rewards. As one individual describes: To me it’s an ongoing basis where it’s like a ship righting itself, you know. Or when you’re driving, you’re sort of correcting as you’re trying to drive in a straight line. So there were things that I see, and then I make minor adjustments and hopefully I don’t have to make major adjustments because I am always making these corrections." (Murray, 2010).

Dealing with Bipolar Disorder: Recognize Signs of Mania and Strive for Balance

Self-monitoring requires being attenuated to shifts in our emotions, thoughts and behavior. Some people with bipolar disorder enjoy their mood swings simply because they feel ecstatic when they are manic. Mania can allow and individual to be productive, and the sensation can be addictive. At the same time, mania can contribute towards an individual becoming dysfunctional.

Living with Bipolar Disorder: Strive for balance in your lifestyle and decisions for successful recovery and relapse prevention.

With experience in self-monitoring regarding mood swings, you can begin to learn from this condition by expecting ensuing "lows" when one is on a "high". This can help you to "put the brakes on" when you are headed to or in mania. By catching mania in the bud, it can stave off a full-blown relapse. Mania can alternate with depression in a cyclic way. What is referred to as "increased goal oriented behavior," which may or may not be positive, can result doing things that are not in your best long-term interests. Indiscriminate sex or over-spending with credit cards fill the moment, but can result in depression as a result of unwise behavior while in a manic state.

In terms of self-monitoring and making continual adjustments, developing self-control and restraining yourself from high-risk behavior, suffering that culminates in a hospitalization can be avoided. Self-monitoring, gaining insight, and making continual adjustments towards the goal of recovery, therefore, staves off relapses and contributes towards greater stability.

Use self-monitoring continually, learning to take cues from others, and make needed adjustments as you go. Strive for balance. This can help you reduce frequency and intense of any manic episodes, with ensuing depression. A balanced approach to life through self-monitoring, can help you recover from bipolar disorder