Bipolar Disorder Prevention: How to Delay the Onset of Mood Swings

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  • While there’s no definitive way to prevent bipolar disorder, there are still a number of things that you can do to prevent or at least delay its onset
  • If you have a first-degree relative who’s diagnosed with bipolar disorder, then you should be aware that you’re at a higher risk of developing this mental health problem too, since it tends to run in the family

If you have a first-degree relative who’s diagnosed with bipolar disorder, then you should be aware that you’re at a higher risk of developing this mental health problem too, since it tends to run in the family.

However, just because you have the genetic predisposition for bipolar disorder doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll automatically develop it. While there’s no definitive way to prevent bipolar disorder, there are still a number of things that you can do to prevent or at least delay its onset.

Get to Know the Possible Triggers of Mood Episodes

The onset of bipolar disorder is linked to environmental, circumstantial and lifestyle triggers. Identifying and preventing these factors ahead of time can help you reduce their impact on your mental health. Here are some of the most common ones that you may encounter:1

Inconsistent sleeping patterns: Unexpected changes in sleeping patterns and sleep deprivation may increase the risk of manic or depressive episodes.2

Major life events: Major life events, whether good or bad, may trigger the onset of bipolar disorder because of the stress that they entail. Some of the stressful life events that lead to uncontrollable mood swings include loss of a loved one, marriage, birth of a child or change in employment.3

Troublesome relationships: Relationship problems, like divorce and non-supportive family members and friends, may cause extreme levels of stress and trigger mania or depression.4

Drug and alcohol abuse: Substance abuse usually occurs together with bipolar disorder, as some patients try to self-medicate with drugs and alcohol. However, studies show that addiction to these substances may also lead to the onset of bipolar disorder symptoms.5

Medication side effects: Some of the medicines that may trigger depressive episodes include interferon-alpha, corticosteroids and digitalis.6 Meanwhile, antidepressants are strongly linked to the occurrence of mania.7

Avoiding the triggers mentioned above is easier said than done, though, as some of them are considered normal parts of life. It’s best to work with a mental health professional to improve your resilience and coping skills when faced with these stressful situations.

Studies Suggest That Psychosocial Intervention May Help Delay Bipolar Disorder

A study published in the Journal of Development and Psychopathology in 2008 focuses on the efficiency of psychosocial intervention when it comes to preventing or delaying the onset of bipolar disorder. Children who are at risk of developing this mental disorder were chosen to undergo 12 sessions of psychosocial treatment along with their families.

This form of psychosocial intervention focuses on the influence of family environment to the development of bipolar disorder, which is why it involves family-focused therapy (FFT) and psychoeducation. These methods are aimed to expand the family’s knowledge about bipolar disorder, allowing them to communicate better, reduce conflicts and improve home environment.

The result of this study suggests that preventive psychosocial intervention helps reduce the risk of early bipolar onset by promoting adaptive thinking and emotional self-regulation skills among at-risk children.8

Other Tips That May Help Thwart the Onset of Bipolar Disorder

Aside from avoiding triggers and undergoing psychosocial intervention, you may also delay the onset of bipolar disorder by eating a healthy and well-balanced diet. Keep in mind that your mood and stress levels are significantly affected by what you eat, so make sure that you consume nutritious foods like fruits and vegetables.

Increase your body’s vitamin D and omega-3 levels as well, since these nutrients may help decrease the risk of mood swings.9 Be sure to avoid mood-damaging foods, such as processed products and caffeinated drinks, among others.10 Taking up a hobby, exercising regularly and practicing relaxation techniques may also help decrease your stress levels and keep mood episodes from occurring.11

MORE ABOUT BIPOLAR DISORDER

Bipolar Disorder: An Introduction

What Is Bipolar Disorder?

Bipolar Disorder in Children

Bipolar Disorder Symptoms

Bipolar Disorder Causes

Bipolar Disorder Types

Bipolar Disorder Test

Bipolar Disorder Treatment

Bipolar Disorder Prevention

Living with Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar Disorder Diet

Bipolar Disorder FAQ

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