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Bipolar Disorder: Three Ways to Have a Healthy Relationship

Bipolar Disorder: Three Ways to Have a Healthy Relationship

It is said, “Some days I can conquer the world, other days it takes me three hours to convince myself to bathe.” Bipolar disorder, formerly known as “manic depression”, affects more than three million people in the US, and millions more who are close to the patient.

While forcing a person to act a certain way is not a bright idea, there are steps you can take to improve communication and maintain a healthy relationship. Trust me, I know the ins and outs of bipolar disorder. I was diagnosed with this crippling mental illness around the same time I decided to dedicate the rest of my life to the field of clinical psychology.

Below I compiled three ways that can help stabilize your relationship with someone you love who’s suffering from bipolar disorder.

1. KNOW THE SIGNS

Recognizing the symptoms of bipolar disorder can be a bit tricky. Individuals suffering from this illness have what’s called “mania”, a euphoric mood, and depression, a sad and sometimes suicidal mood.

During episodes of mania one may exhibit rapid speech, a sudden burst of high self-esteem, and uncontrollable excitement. When the anchor drops, a depressive episode may include symptoms such as loss of motivation to complete basic everyday tasks- for example taking a bath or getting dressed. Other hallmark symptoms of a depressive episode include changes in appetite, sleep, energy level, thought patterns, and concentration. It’s crucial to learn and remember these signs, as it will be easier to understand your loved one’s thinking and behavioral patterns.

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2. ENCOURAGEMENT

Is someone close to you feeling down and refusing to go out into public? If so, remember this: never force someone to do anything they are not ready for. However, do encourage them to go out for a walk with you, etc.  Again, never force them, as that is the therapist’s job.

If your loved one is taking psychopharmaceutical drugs, make sure you encourage him/her to take the medication every single day as instructed by the psychiatrist because a missed dose can drastically impact the road to recovery.

Saying the wrong thing can shake up your relationship, so below are words of encouragement with strong potential to help ease depressive symptoms.

1. “I love you!”

2. “I care about you.”

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3. “Do you want a hug?”

4. “You are not in this alone.”

5. “I’m not going to abandon you.”

6. “We’ll ride through this. We’re in this together.”

7. “When this is all over, I will still be here with you.”

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8. “All I want to do now is give you a hug and a shoulder to cry on.”

9. “Hey, you’re not crazy!”

10. “I understand what you’re going through and I’m here for you.”

11. “Don’t worry, I will take care of you.”

12. “You mean a lot to me.”

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13. “If you need someone to talk to, I’m here.”

14. “After rain comes the sunshine.”

15. “No matter how many times you fall on your face, you are still moving forward.”

3. COMPANIONSHIP

Finally, be there for them no matter what. Whether they’re feeling irritable or crying, recognize that they are suffering. Also, prevent them from isolating themselves. Include them in as many social events as possible. Even a simple walk in the park would work. Spend time with them- anything to make them feel upbeat- because at the end of the day, everyone with bipolar disorder just wants to feel accepted. When speaking to them, especially during a depressive mood swing, keep in mind that their self-esteem is usually extremely low and any rough criticism or comments can hurt them badly.

In September 2016, researchers at the University of California San Diego found that loneliness associated with depressive episodes is in our DNA, thus changing the way science perceives depression.

Featured photo credit: UMH via umh.org

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Jose Florez

Mental Health Writer

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Last Updated on November 11, 2019

How to Improve Memory and Boost Your Brainpower

How to Improve Memory and Boost Your Brainpower

Have you ever noticed that some people are able to effortlessly remember even the most mundane details and quickly comprehend new things? Well, you can too!

To unlock the full potential of your brain, you need to keep it active and acute. Wasting time on your couch watching mindless television shows or scrolling through facebook is not going to help.

Besides getting out flashcards, what can you do to help remember things better and learn new things more quickly? Check out these 10 effective ways on how to improve memory:

1. Exercise and Get Your Body Moving

Exercising doesn’t just exercise the body, it also helps to exercise your brain. Obesity and the myriad of diseases that eventually set in as a result of being overweight can cause serious harm to the brain.

Furthermore, without regular exercise, plaque starts to build up in your arteries, and your blood vessels begin to lose the ability to effectively pump blood. Plaque buildup leads to heart attacks and it also reduces the amount of oxygen and nutrients that your blood carries to your brain. When the nutrients don’t make it there, the brain’s ability to function is compromised.

To prevent this from happening, make sure you get moving every day. Even if it’s just a brisk walk, it’ll help you maintain and increase your mental acuity. Brisk walking, swimming and dancing are all excellent activities. Take a look at these 5 Ways to Find Time for Exercise.

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2. Eliminate Stressors and Seek Help If You’re Depressed

Anything that causes you major stress, like anger or anxiety, will in time begin to eat away the parts of your brain that are responsible for memory. Amongst the most brain-damaging stressors is depression, which is actually often misdiagnosed a a memory problem since one of its primary symptoms is the inability to concentrate.

If you can’t concentrate, then you might feel like you are constantly forgetting things. Depression increases the levels of cortisol in your bloodstream which elevates the cortisol levels in the brain. Doctors have found that increased cortisol diminishes certain areas of the brain, especially the hippocampus which is where short-term memories are stored.

Prolonged depression can thus destroy your brain’s ability to remember anything new. Seek professional help to combat your depression – your brain will thank you.

3. Get a Good Night’s Sleep and Take Naps

Getting a consistent 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night will increase your memory. During sleep, the brain firms up memories of recently acquired information.

Getting enough sleep will help you get through the full spectrum of nocturnal cycles that are essential to optimal brain and body functioning during the waking hours. Taking a nap throughout the day, especially after learning something new, can also help you to retain those memories as well as recharge your brain and keep it sharper longer.

4. Feed Your Brain

Fifty to sixty percent of the brain’s overall weight is pure fat, which is used to insulate its billions of nerve cells. The better insulated a cell is, the faster it can send messages and the quicker you will be thinking.

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This is precisely why parents are advised to feed their young children whole milk and to restrict dieting – their brains’ need fat to grow and work properly. Skimping on fats can be devastating even to the adult brain.

Thus, eating foods that contain a healthy mix of fats is vital for long-term memory. Some excellent food choices include fish (especially anchovies, mackerel and wild salmon) and dark leafy green vegetables. Here’re more brain food choices: 12 Foods that Can Improve Your Brain Power

Deep-fried foods obviously contain fat but their lack of nutritional value is not going to help your brain or your body, so think healthy foods and fats.

5. Eat Breakfast and Make Sure It Includes an Egg

According to Larry McCleary, M.D., author of  The Brain Trust Program, an egg is the ideal breakfast. Eggs contain B vitamins which help nerve cells to burn glucose, antioxidants that protect neurons against damage; and omega-3 fatty acids that keep nerve cells firing at optimal speed.

Other foods to add to your breakfast include fruits, veggies and lean proteins. Avoid trans fats and high fructose corn syrup. Trans fats diminish the brain cells’ ability to communicate with each other and HFCS can actually shrink the brain by damaging cells.

Having a healthy breakfast in the morning has been shown to improve performance throughout the day. If you’re too busy to have a healthy breakfast, this maybe just right for you: 33 Quick And Healthy Breakfasts For Busy Mornings

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6. Write it Down

If there’s something you want to remember, writing it down can help.

It may sound like a no-brainer, but do you really know why? Writing it down creates oxygenated blood flow to areas of your brain that a responsible for your memories and literally exercises those parts of it. Here’s How Writing Things Down Can Change Your Life.

You can start a journal, write yourself emails or even start keeping a blog – all of these activities will help to improve your capacity to remember and memorize information.

7. Listen to Music

Research shows that certain types of music are very helpful in recalling memories. Information that is learned while listening to a particular song or collection can often be recalled by thinking of the song or “playing” it mentally. Songs and music can serve as cues for pulling up particular memories.

8. Visual Concepts

In order to remember things, many people need to visualize the information they are studying.

Pay attention to photographers, charts and other graphics that might appear in your textbook; or if you’re not studying a book, try to pull up a mental image of what it is you are trying to remember. It might also help to draw your own charts or figures, or utilize colors and highlighters to group related ideas in your notes.

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Here, you can learn How to Become a Person Who Can Visualize Results.

9. Teach Someone Else

Reading material out loud has been shown to significantly improve memory of the material. Expanding further upon this idea is the fact that psychologists and educators have found that by having students teach new concepts to others, it helps to enhance understanding and recall.

Teach new concepts and information to a friend or study partner, and you’ll find you remember the information a lot better.

10. Do Crossword Puzzles, Read or Play Cards

Studies have shown that doing crossword puzzles, read or play cards on a daily basis not only keep your brain active but also help to delay memory loss, especially in those who develop dementia.

So pick up the daily newspaper and work on that crossword puzzle, read a book or enjoy a game of solitaire.

Pick one to two of these tips first and start applying them to your everyday life. Very soon you’ll find yourself having better memories and a clearer head!

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Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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